Liquor licence cost reduction legislation to be debated today
Legislation to pave the way for casino gaming and a bill to halve the cost of liquor licences are expected to be debated by the House of Assembly today.
The two pieces of gaming legislation – tabled in March – were designed to lay more groundwork for the introduction of casinos and shift responsibility for all gambling to the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission – which will be renamed the Bermuda Gaming Commission.
David Burt, the Premier, said at the time the Gaming (Transfer of Functions) Act would expand the Commission’s remit to regulate casinos, betting shops, cruise ship casinos, lotteries and raffles and the traditional Crown and Anchor.
The Betting Act was designed to create a separate regulatory regime for the sector and will replace an out-of-date 1975 law which does not take account of modern compliance and anti-money laundering standards.
Mr Burt said when the legislation was tabled: “Given that Bermuda is a leading global financial centre, we must ensure that the regulation of our industries are commensurate with international best practices and standards and appropriate for our industry.”
The Government earlier said it hoped the St Regis Hotel in St George’s would get the first hotel casino licence this summer and that three vendors of gambling equipment and services had also been approved.
The Government is also expected to discuss the proposed Liquor Licence (Fee Reduction) Temporary Amendment Bill, with the bill expected to be tabled and debated today.
The legislation would half the cost of liquor licences for hotels, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, tour boats and private members’ clubs for a year.
The move came after the Chamber of Commerce launched a “Save our Restaurants” campaign to help support the sector, which has been ravaged by Covid-19 restrictions.
The cost for a liquor licence ranges from $375 for members’ clubs to $5,000 for large hotels under 1974 legislation.
Hotel Liquor Licence (30-100 guests) – $2,000
Hotel Liquor Licence (100-300 guests) – $3,000
Hotel Liquor Licence (300 plus guests) – $5,000
Restaurant Liquor Licence – $3,000
Nightclub Liquor Licence – $4,000
Members’ Club Liquor Licence – $375
Tour Boat Liquor Licence (fewer than 50 passengers) – $500
Tour Boat Liquor Licence (50 -100 passengers) – $1,000
Tour Boat Liquor Licence (100 plus passengers) – $1,500
Restaurant revenues have plunged by up to 80 per cent as a and some owners have warned that the industry was “hanging by a thread”.
Hotels and tour boat operators were also hard hit by the restrictions, along with a steep decline in the number of tourists because of the pandemic.
A series of Ministerial statements is also expected.
Lawrence Scott, the Minister of Transport, will give an update on the minimum revenue guarantee for the airport, and Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, will discuss Government guarantees and the latest Standard & Poors rating for Bermuda.
Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, will highlight the ministry’s economic stimulus projects and Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, will talk about the work of the Department of Planning.