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Hamilton Princess casino plans fold due to time delays

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Century Casinos announced it will no longer be developing a casino at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club (File photograph)

A US gaming company developing a casino at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club has pulled out of the project blaming ongoing time delays, The Royal Gazette can today reveal.

Peter Hoetzinger, president and chief executive of Century Casinos, which has been involved in the development for eight years, said that with the existing legislative framework, the company could not foresee the project being completed in a reasonable time, if at all.

The hotel has said it has also ceased searching for a new operator until the Bermuda Gaming Commission is able to provide a “viable path forward.”

Beset by delays: Century Casinos announced it will no longer be developing a casino at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Mr Hoetzinger said: “We joined the Hamilton Princess casino project eight years ago. In 2017, the project received a provisional casino license.

“Since then – for the last five years – we have tried to get this project up and running, but with the current legislative framework we do not assume this project can be realised in a reasonable time frame or at all.

“We have therefore decided not to continue our attempts to implement casino operations in Hamilton any further and to leave the casino project.”

A spokesman for the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, added: “We are disappointed that our designated casino partner no longer wishes to pursue the project.

“While we continue to believe that gaming represents an attractive amenity for Bermuda’s visitors, we have paused our search for a new operator while we await a clearer road map from the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission on a viable path forward to seeing a casino open its doors.”

In 2017, backers of the casino predicted that it could create up to 100 jobs. It was to be owned by the hotel’s owners, the Green family, and managed by Century Casinos.

Andrew Green said at the time the granting of a provisional licence could make an opening date of November 2018 “realistic”.

The original plans included a casino floor of 9,500 sq ft with 14 gaming tables, nearly 200 slot machines and one automated roulette table, to be housed in the Harbourview ballroom.

The move will be a big blow for the Government, which sees the casino gaming industry as one of its four key areas of economic stimulus. Despite being given a licence, there is also still no date for the opening a casino at the St Regis.

Progress in getting the industry up and running has been beset by delays – legislation passed in 2014 allowed for a maximum of four casinos on the island.

Both the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club and the St Regis hotel in St George’s submitted applications for licences and David Burt predicted that the island’s first casino would open by the end of 2021.

In February 2021, Jean Major, the former chief executive of the BGC, backed the prediction.

In an interview with The Royal Gazette last January, Mr Major said the operation was “progressing well” and that “June is entirely possible”.

The St Regis was granted the island’s first casino licence in October, however, no date has been set for an opening, with operational steps to complete before the dice can start rolling.

The BGC said in October: “Bermuda’s established legislative framework for the licensing and opening of a casino involves a three-stage process.

“Following an extensive and in-depth suitability review, the BGC has granted Bermuda’s first casino licence to Hotelco Bermuda Holding Ltd o/a St Regis Bermuda Resort.

“The commission has determined that the applicant has met the legislative suitability requirements for a licence under the Gaming Act and Regulations.”

The statement said that the issuance of the licence permits the applicant to address necessary steps to comply with all the legislative requirements to open the casino

The BGC added: “The opening date of the casino is entirely dependent on the casino operator meeting all legislative requirements for opening which will be subject to the commission’s review and approval.

“The commission continues to be ready to effect regulatory and supervisory responsibilities.”

Gaming has come under the remit of several ministers. Jamahl Simmons first held the brief as Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, followed by Curtis Dickinson, the former Minister of Finance, who took over responsibility in November 2018.

In 2020, Mr Burt assumed took gaming on as minister responsible for economic development in Bermuda, a portfolio now held by Jason Hayward.

Neither the Government nor the BGC responded to questions by press time.

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Published January 16, 2023 at 8:06 pm (Updated January 16, 2023 at 8:06 pm)

Hamilton Princess casino plans fold due to time delays

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