Casino still expected this year, says Burt
Bermuda’s first casino is still expected to open its doors this year, the House of Assembly heard last night.
David Burt, the Premier, said Hotelco – the developer behind the St Regis hotel in St George’s – had submitted a formal application for a full casino licence this summer.
He said: “I can advise that the commission held a meeting on August 24, at which the application for a casino licence was considered.
“The applicant was invited and did make submissions to the commission in support of the application.
“The next steps are now being considered and I remain confident that we will see a casino in Bermuda this year.”
Mr Burt said he could not make any promises because the commission would make the final decision.
But he added: “It’s my hope, dream and expectation that we will have a casino opening before the end of the year.”
Mr Burt was speaking as he opened debate on the Gaming Amendment Act 2021, which was approved by MPs.
He said the legislation would prohibit members of the Legislature from sitting on the commission.
Mr Burt added the legislation was designed to reduce the appearance of conflict of interests between the Government and the Bermuda Gaming Commission.
He said the pre-amendment legislation had implied that MPs could not serve on the commission, but the changes would put it “beyond doubt”.
Mr Burt added the move came after talks among the commission, the Government and island banks about the processing of gaming transactions.
He said: “The ability to do so is dependant on the willingness and support of correspondent banks to allow for the movement of funds in and out of Bermuda.
“It has been proposed by one local banking institution that in order to gain support of a correspondent bank a change of the law as proposed could assist.”
The amendments also updated the section on removal of members of the commission.
The updated legislation clarified that members can be removed if “unable or unfit” for the job.
Cole Simons, the Opposition Leader, said he was satisfied progress had been made to make casinos a reality and he was pleased with the honesty about talks with the banks.
But he questioned Mr Burt on the potential implementation of cashless gaming.
Mr Burt said that it was up to the operators, the banks and the regulators to assess if the casinos would adopt a cashless model.
Kim Swan, a PLP backbencher, said casinos could be an important asset for the tourism industry.
But he warned it was vital for the Government to “measure twice and cut once”.