Bermuda Business Development Agency told to release more information on sports betting firm Game Theory
Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez has ordered a public authority to make “further disclosures” about a sports betting firm which scrapped plans to hire staff in Bermuda after media interest in its activities.
Ms Gutierrez told the Bermuda Business Development Agency, in a decision made public yesterday, that it was wrong to withhold the names of two politicians when it released records to The Royal Gazette about Guernsey-based Game Theory in response to a public access to information request.
She also said there was no justification for holding back information that was “not about an identifiable individual, as well as the names and positions of Government contractors … and BDA’s CEO and interim CEO”.
The commissioner gave the agency until March 10 to release the information.
Game Theory pulled out of Bermuda, according to a February 2019 speech given in the House of Assembly by David Burt, because a small story ran in The Royal Gazette's business section about a job advert it placed to recruit six “sports trading operators”.
The Premier, who did not name the company, said he was speaking “specifically of the fintech industry”.
He said: “ … Bermuda has suffered a significant loss of business and the responsibility for that lays directly at the feet of The Royal Gazette.”
The Premier added: “The disappointment felt in the voice of Mr Kevin Richards [then BDA's business development manager], that all of his hard work over the past six months … was derailed … was palpable.”
Mr Burt later complained that the company had been "subjected to unwarranted intrusion into corporate affairs“.
The BDA released more than 600 hard-copy documents it held about Game Theory, or GTL Atlantic Ltd, the name it incorporated under here, in response to the RG’s Pati request.
The disclosure revealed that the company offered to be categorised as a fintech firm “if it helps from a political point of view”.
The records released by the BDA were redacted and the newspaper asked Ms Gutierrez to review the decision.
The Information Commissioner, in her decision, praised the BDA for the “thorough and extensive efforts” it made in handling the Gazette’s Pati request.
She found that the agency was justified in denying public access to some of the records it held about Game Theory, including legal opinions shared with the BDA, because releasing them could breach a duty of confidence and the public interest was better served by withholding them.
Ms Gutierrez acknowledged that the fintech and gaming industries were of “major public interest” and agreed with the newspaper that “it is in the public interest to understand why the Premier criticised The Royal Gazette during the parliamentary session on February 15, 2019”.
But she said the records the BDA was correct to withhold would “not inform the public of the reason why Game Theory decided not to pursue its plan in Bermuda or the reasons behind the Premier’s remarks”.
The commissioner said “disclosure of the information in the records about two elected officials … is in the public interest.
“Given their public facing roles and because the information relates to their public roles as members of the then Cabinet, these individuals have or should have expected that such information would be made public.
“Disclosure of their information will also inform the public of the extent of their interactions with Game Theory.”
The Information Commissioner added: “Similarly, the CEO and interim CEO are individuals holding the most senior position at BDA.
“They, too, should have had an expectation that some of their work information will be made public. The Information Commissioner is satisfied that disclosure of the names of the CEO and interim CEO, as well as their involvement in BDA’s work in relation to Game Theory, is in the public interest.”
* To view the Information Commissioner’s decision, click on the PDF under Related Media.