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Talks with local banks over casinos

The Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission is in talks with three locals banks as it attempts to get the island's fledgeling casino industry off the ground, finance minister Curtis Dickinson said yesterday.

Mr Dickinson told Parliament the commission is trying to secure a local bank with an American correspondent bank relationship which could accept the proceeds from gaming.

He said the commission had engaged in discussions with Butterfield Bank, Clarien Bank and the Bermuda Commercial Bank as a “high priority”. The securing of a bank has long been regarded as a major stumbling block for the casino industry.

Clarien told The Royal Gazette a year ago it would make a “risk-based decision” on whether to have further discussions with its stakeholders, including its overseas correspondent banks, once it had a better understanding of the island's casino legislation and regulations.

Butterfield declined to comment when approached by the Gazette at that time.

Bermuda Commercial Bank is being sold to New York investment firm Permanent Capital, whose lead counsel in Bermuda is Mark Pettingill, the former One Bermuda Alliance MP.

Mr Pettingill told the Gazette last month that providing banking services to the gaming industry was “absolutely not a focus” and did not form part of BCB's business plan.

Mr Dickinson added further discussion will be carried out with the Bermuda Monetary Authority as banking regulator and the US correspondent banks.

In an extensive Ministerial Statement on gaming, Mr Dickinson also told the House of Assembly responsibility for betting shops would move from the betting licensing authority to the commission, and that the industry's legislative framework would be revised.

David Burt, the Premier, previously noted that the Bahamas had been faulted in 2016 over money-laundering issues with its betting shops.

Former executive director Richard Schuetz, in his resignation letter, pointed to “glaring deficiencies in the anti-money-laundering regime of this island's betting sector”.

Mr Dickinson said yesterday: “In order to ensure this sector is regulated thoroughly and to a level or standard equivalent to mature regulatory jurisdictions, the current legislative framework will need to be revised.

“The commission is poised to complete the legislative framework including AML/ATF controls for licensing and supervision of betting and other non-casino gaming activities in 2019.

“Consultation with the betting operators regarding the legislative changes and the pending compliance requirements is ongoing. This consultation has involved educating them on the introduction of a new AML/ATF regime and the subsequent impact this may have on resources and their operations.

“The commission will assist them in understanding the importance of adopting policies that create robust internal controls that will meet the new legislative requirements.

“The commission is also drafting a Licensing Conditions and Code of Practice document which will be introduced in tandem with the legislation governing the betting sector.”

Mr Dickinson also pointed to the struggles to find a new executive director to replace Mr Schuetz, who left the post in December 2017.

He said: “It has been decided to engage the services of an executive recruiter to assist with securing a suitably qualified leader for the commission's team as soon as possible.”

Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published March 02, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated March 02, 2019 at 8:04 am)

Talks with local banks over casinos

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