‘It is clear now that we will never see a casino in Bermuda’ – source
Fears have been raised by a well placed gaming industry insider that Bermuda will never see a casino open on the island due to “spectacularly bad” handling of the situation by the Government.
The comments come in the wake of the collapse of attempts to launch a 100-job casino at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, and top-level meetings on the future of a proposed casino at the St Regis hotel.
The insider said that the Government had “destroyed” the perception of independence for the Bermuda Gaming Commission with a sweeping overhaul of its structure in the Casino Gaming Amendment Act 2017.
As a result, according to the insider, US banks would “blackball” any money originating from casinos in Bermuda.
Such a move would mean that financial institutions on the island would not be able to secure a necessary “correspondent bank” overseas needed to handle gaming monies.
The bid to create a casino industry on the island has been beset with delays and controversy after David Burt initially stated Bermuda would have its first such gambling establishment by the end of 2021.
The source told The Royal Gazette: “It is clear now that we will never see a casino in Bermuda.
“The whole situation has been handled spectacularly badly by the Government.
“The whole concept of gaming on the island was misconceived from the outset.
“Trying to bring in three or four small casinos attached to hotels in order to enhance them was the wrong idea from the start.
“It needed to be a major casino branded to a hotel if it was going to work.
“There are major issues as to why it will not happen.
“The Government destroyed any concept of independence for the BGC with the changes it introduced in the (Casino Gaming Amendment) Act.
“And US banks will just blackball casino money out of Bermuda. No bank in the US will bank proceeds from an operation in Bermuda.
“And without a correspondent bank in the US, you just can’t get off the ground.”
The comments echo those of a number of other senior banking and hotel industry insiders who have repeatedly told The Royal Gazette that the Government is seen as having too much power and sway over the commission.
Under the 2017 changes, the BGC was made to take direction from the Government.
Ministers also had the power to hire and fire the body’s commissioners.
Jamahl Simmons, who was tourism minister when the legal changes went through, previously told The Royal Gazette: “It was a Cabinet decision and it made sense at that time.
“Whether it still makes sense is a matter for the present Cabinet using the information that they possess and have access to.”
The creation of a casino industry has been highlighted by the Premier as one of the Government’s four key drivers of economic growth in the near future.
Mr Burt and Vance Campbell, the tourism minister, met executives operating the St Regis resort in late January regarding the hotel’s plans for a casino.
Century Casinos backed out of an eight-year involvement in trying to set up the island’s first casino at the Hamilton Princess in January.
Charmaine Smith, the BGC chief executive, has repeatedly refused to answer specific questions on the casino situation in Bermuda.
The Government has been asked for comment.
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