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Gaming Commission salaries released under Pati request

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Pati records detail how much Bermuda Gaming Commission executives, as well as board members, are paid

Four executives at the Bermuda Gaming Commission earn six-figure salaries, while its commissioners receive more than $1,000 each per meeting, newly released records show.

Top post: Charmaine Smith, chief executive of the Bermuda Gaming Commission (File photograph)

The executives’ combined annual salaries cost the regulator — which has not released audited financial statements for the past three years — at least $600,000 a year, though it could be as much as $775,000.

Chief executive Charmaine Smith, who was appointed in December, earns between $175,000 and $225,000 a year.

Dwight Furbert, the commission’s director of finance and human resources, earns between $150,000 and $200,000, as does Olu Bademosi, the director of regulation. Legal director Marvin Hanna earns between $125,000 and $150,000.

The records show that commission chairwoman Cheryl-Ann Mapp is paid $1,833 for each monthly meeting she attends.

Deputy chairwoman Judith Hall-Bean receives $1,500 and commissioners Jonathan Smith, Daniel Reece and Renée Webb receive $1,250 per meeting.

The salary bands and meeting fees were shared with The Royal Gazette in response to a Pati request submitted in March.

‘Bermudians and residents expect transparency and public accountability about public spending’

The Bermuda Gaming Commission has shared salary bands rather than exact salary amounts for its top four executives — so The Royal Gazette will push for more detail.

The regulator provided the amounts paid to its chief executive, director of finance and human resources, and director of regulation, within $50,000 bands. It gave the amount within a $25,000 band for its director of legal.

The issue of how much detail public authorities should share on executive salaries has been raised before, with Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez ordering Bermuda Hospitals Board in 2019 to release information on the amounts paid to its executive team within $10,000 salary bands.

Ms Gutierrez wrote that naming the executives and giving exact details of their salary and compensation packages would be an “unfair invasion of their privacy”. But she added that the “public interest requires access to more narrow bands for the range of total cost for individual executive team positions”.

The board launched a lawsuit to try to keep the details secret but later dropped the civil action and gave exact salary information to The Royal Gazette for its top five executives, who earned almost $2 million annually between them.

Ms Gutierrez said then: “Bermudians and residents expect transparency and public accountability about public spending.

“The disclosure of ranges for the total cost of BHB executive team members fulfils these aims. The Pati Act’s role in accountability for public spending is increasingly important in the current financial climate.”

Previously, the Bermuda Tourism Authority gave $10,000 salary bands for its executive team.

The Gazette has asked the chairwoman of the BGC to review the Pati disclosure, with her decision due by July 18.

We reported that month that the commission — which was meant to become self-funding through casino taxes and fees but has not done so because of the lack of a gambling industry — would receive a guarantee of almost $10 million from the Government to allow it to borrow money to keep operating.

The $9.8 million figure in the 2023-24 Budget represented an almost 20-fold increase on the first guarantee it was given in 2018, which enabled it to borrow up to $500,000, and was more than triple the $2.7 million surety listed in the 2022-23 Budget.

The Gazette’s Pati request asked for any communications between the regulator, which used to be called Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission, and the Ministry or Minister of Finance about increasing the government guarantee.

A single document was released in response to that part of the request: a letter from Walter Roban, as acting Premier and the Minister of Finance, to Ms Smith on December 19, 2022.

Mr Roban wrote that he: “ … hereby approves the increase in borrowing by the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission from $8,175,000 to $9,800,000, with respect to fund general corporate purposes outlined in the work plan of the BCGC for the fiscal year 2022-2023.”

That approval was given despite taxpayers not having seen recent audited financial statements for the BGC.

The legislation which governs the gaming commission requires its accounts to be audited annually by the Auditor-General and for the finance minister to present its financial statements and auditor’s report to Parliament “as soon as practicable”.

However, only one annual report, containing financials for the 19-month period from September 1, 2015 to March 31, 2017, appears to have been presented to Parliament.

In response to the Gazette’s Pati request, the commission shared two other annual reports, containing audited accounts for financial years 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. The commission said the latter was “laid” [in Parliament] though it would not say when.

The information officer said annual reports were in draft for 2019-2020, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, with “financial statements not audited”.

Auditor-General Heather Thomas said: “We are presently auditing Bermuda Gaming Commission for the year ended March 31, 2020.”

Asked why the audits were late, Ms Thomas replied: “There was a delay in receiving all the required information.”

She said she had “no insight” into why the Minister of Finance had not tabled all the completed audits in the Legislature.

The Gazette asked the BGC for any communications between the commission and the Ministry or Minister of Finance about the lack of completed annual reports, but it said no such records were found.

Asked about the missing reports yesterday, Ms Smith said: “There is to be no comment on matters [which are] the subject of a Pati request whilst the request process is under way.”

The Gazette asked David Burt, the Premier and the Minister of Finance, for comment on the audited financials.

A ministry spokeswoman said last night that the 2020-2021 statements were with the Auditor-General’s office awaiting audit and draft statements for 2021-2022 were being compiled with delivery to the Auditor-General’s office “anticipated before the end of month”.

The spokeswoman said: “We are encouraged at the progress that's been made in addressing matters in this important area.

“We look forward to the continued work that will focus on the timely completion of these requirements in the future.”

Though the commission was launched almost eight years ago, it does not have a gaming industry to regulate as no casinos have opened and all of the island’s betting shops have shut down.

Since it began operating, the BGC has received a $3.76 million grant from the public purse, as well as interest-free, repayable loans totalling $2.1 million.

The Gazette asked for any communications it had with the ministry or the Minister of Finance about the repayment of the loans to the Government.

The commission’s information officer replied: “I have searched our records and have not located any communications between the commission and the Ministry or Minister of Finance about the repayment of loans to the Government by the commission and I am unaware of any such communications.”

The commission had five staff to begin with, which grew to 14 paid positions by January this year, according to a published list of current employees, which referenced two chief financial officers.

One of the CFOs has now left and the staff body appears to have been further trimmed, with the Pati disclosure listing only five staff in addition to the four senior executives.

They hold the posts of policy manager and director of problem and responsible gaming; business operations and communications manager; licensing inspector; tech and compliance officer; and research analyst.

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Published June 08, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated June 08, 2023 at 8:16 am)

Gaming Commission salaries released under Pati request

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