No casino this year dashes Burt’s ‘dream and expectation’
The Premier’s repeated predictions that Bermuda’s first casino would open before the end of the year are to fall flat.
David Burt, with just one month to the deadline, will not achieve his “dream and expectation” and see gambling at the St Regis Hotel, St George’s up and running.
The turn of events came despite Mr Burt saying on three separate occasions that he expected the casino to open this year.
A spokeswoman for the St Regis Hotel confirmed yesterday the casino would not begin operations in 2021, but that the situation was “moving forward”.
The spokeswoman was unable to give a timeline for when the casino might open.
But she added: “The casino, Gaming Commission, banks and Government are aligned.”
Mr Burt told The Royal Gazettein January: “I am expecting certainly that we’ll have a casino, at least one casino, operating in Bermuda this year.”
He told MPs In May that he expected a casino to open during the summer.
Mr Burt informed Parliament in September that Hotelco – the developer behind the St Regis resort – had submitted an application for a full casino licence.
He said: “It’s my hope, dream and expectation that we will have a casino opening before the end of the year.”
Mr Burt added: “I remain confident that we will see a casino in Bermuda this year.”
But he emphasised that he could not make any promises because the Bermuda Gaming Commission would make the final decision.
Mr Burt was last night more cautious in his assessment of progress on casino gambling despite his earlier optimism and side-stepped questions from The Royal Gazette.
Mr Burt said: “The consideration of an application for and the issuance of a casino license is solely a matter for the Bermuda Gaming Commission, and it would be inappropriate for the minister responsible for gaming to comment in any way on any aspect of this matter.”
Jump-starting the casino industry was a plank of the PLP’s 2020 election platform.
Jason Hayward, the labour minister, highlighted in June that the St Regis was looking to take on more staff.
Mr Hayward said at the time: “The hotel is actively recruiting for 32 additional positions. Additionally, some 50 gaming academy positions were recently advertised by the resort.
“The ministry is pleased to report that 47 Bermudians have signed agreements to participate in this training to date and there is currently capacity to include more Bermudians.”
The Premier’s September comments were made as MPs approved the Gaming Amendment Act 2021.
Mr Burt said the legislation would prohibit members of the Legislature from sitting on the commission.
He added the legislation was designed to reduce the appearance of conflict of interest 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 gambling cash.
He said: “The ability to do so is dependent 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 legislation clarified that members could be removed if “unable or unfit” for the job.