St Regis casino licence decision to be made 'later this summer'
A decision on whether the new St Regis Hotel in St George’s will be granted Bermuda’s first hotel casino licence is expected “later this summer’, the Premier told the House of Assembly today.
David Burt said three vendors of gambling equipment and services had also been approved.
The announcements came as Mr Burt tabled the Betting Act 2021 and discussed changes to gambling and betting regulations – an area he admitted that “too little discernible progress” had been made since the decision to allow casino gambling.
Mr Burt said that the St Regis owner, Hotelco, had a provisional casino licence and that a suitability review by the Gaming Commission was now “well under way”.
He added: “The suitability review entails extensive due diligence in respect of every substantive aspect of the applicant’s honesty and integrity, associates, ownership interests, governance, operational and financial controls.
“This is to ensure that only good characters are permitted to enter the Bermuda market and to establish a healthy compliance culture.
“The results of the review will be submitted to the board of the Commission for a final decision on the issuance of a casino licence later this summer.”
Mr Burt admitted: “Since the Green Paper on gaming for Bermuda, too little discernible progress has been made to actually introduce gaming on a scale that supports tourism and adds to the product offerings for travellers to Bermuda.”
But he said today’s proposed legislation would move the process on and give responsibility for all types of gambling to the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission, which would now be known as the Bermuda Gaming Commission.
Mr Burt said the Gaming (Transfer of Functions) Act 2021 made several changes to other laws to expand the Commission’s remit to regulate casino gaming, betting, cruise ship casinos, lotteries and raffles and Crown and Anchor.
He added: “The Commission will also be permitted to collect all associated fees, levies and taxes resulting from these additional economic sectors, save for the betting duty.
“Both the amount of the duty and the procedures for submission to and collection by the Tax Commissioner will remain as they currently are.”
Mr Burt said the Betting Act 2021 provided for a separate regulatory regime for the betting sector and would replace a 1975 law which did not anticipate modern compliance and anti-money laundering standards.
He added: “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.”
Mr Burt said Jean Major, the chief executive of the Gaming Commission, had started in late 2020, had huge experience as a regulator and had added valued expertise to the operations of the Commission.
He added an approval process for gambling firms who supplied goods and services to casino operators, such as gambling machines and other gambling equipment, had been launched and three vendors had been approved.
The Commission had also set standards for gambling equipment technical specifications and standards of performance, which were expected to be approved and made public by the Commission before the end of the month.
See Related Media for Mr Burt’s Statement and the new legislation.