Gaming Bill Will Not Be Tabled This Session

July 18, 2014

The Bill related to the establishment of legalized casino gaming will not be tabled during this session, Minister of Tourism Development & Transport Shawn Crockwell said in the House of Assembly today [July 18].

In providing an update on the progress that has been made on the Gaming legislation, the Minister said the  ”enabling legislation is the most important component in ensuring we have the best regime and administrative structure to effectively oversee the domestic casino gaming industry.”

“In December of last year the Government made the decision to proceed with the establishment of legalized casino gaming through the parliamentary process. This was a difficult decision for the Government but we are confident it was the right decision for Bermuda,” continued Minister Crockwell.

“A Gaming Legislative Drafting Committee, which I will refer to as [GLDC] has been formed with the oversight of the Permanent Secretaries of the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport, the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Ministry of Legal Affairs.

“In addition to the representatives from the previously mentioned ministries, the GLDC includes representatives from the Ministry of Finance and Management Consulting Services with its main objective to draft primary legislation with the intent for it to be tabled before the end of the current legislative session.

The Minister said  a draft Bill is completed, and they are using the Singapore Legislation as a guide which has “greatly assisted in the production of the draft Bill.”

“The Bill will not be tabled during this session and I make no apologies because the enabling legislation is the most important component in ensuring we have the best regime and administrative structure to effectively oversee the domestic casino gaming industry.

“We will continue with our work to finalize the Bill which will be augmented by the regulations necessary to comprehensively establish and regulate the gaming industry with the intent for both primary and secondary legislation to be tabled when parliament reconvenes.

“This will keep the Government on track to have the entire statutory structure, i.e. both the primary legislation and the associated regulations, presented to this Honourable House for approval before the end of 2014.”

The Minister also noted that the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport has engaged New Jersey-based Spectrum Gaming Group to “provide expert advice and services” to the Bermuda Government.

Minister Crockwell’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker,

I rise today to provide this Honourable House with an update on the progress that has been made on the Gaming legislation that the Government will be bringing before the Legislature.

Mr. Speaker,

In December of last year the Government made the decision to proceed with the establishment of legalized casino gaming through the parliamentary process. This was a difficult decision for the Government but we are confident it was the right decision for Bermuda. We are also confident that the majority of Bermudians support the introduction of casino style gaming.

This is supported by recent polling results which show that 76 percent of residents support the introduction of casino gaming in Bermuda to assist in bringing jobs, increase tourism and generate revenue on the Island. This is very similar to a poll the Government conducted in 2013 which showed that 74 percent of residents support resort casino gaming.

Mr. Speaker,

Since the Government’s decision to advance the development and establishment of a domestic gaming industry, the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport has been working collaboratively with Government legislative drafters and other civil administrators as a cross-Ministerial initiative to create the legislative and administrative framework necessary to do so.

Accordingly, a Gaming Legislative Drafting Committee, which I will refer to as (GLDC) has been formed with the oversight of the Permanent Secretaries of the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport, the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Ministry of Legal Affairs.

In addition to the representatives from the previously mentioned ministries, the GLDC includes representatives from the Ministry of Finance and Management Consulting Services with its main objective to draft primary legislation with the intent for it to be tabled before the end of the current legislative session.Mr. Speaker,

I am pleased to report that a draft Bill is completed and I would like to compliment the legislative drafters, the Attorney General Chamber’s team and all of the individuals that have worked tirelessly on producing a very comprehensive piece of legislation in a very short period of time.

I draw Honourable members’ attention to the process in Singapore which took more than two (2) years to produce their enabling Act. We are using the Singapore Legislation as a guide which has greatly assisted in the production of the draft Bill.

Mr. Speaker,

The Bill will not be tabled during this session and I make no apologies because the enabling legislation is the most important component in ensuring we have the best regime and administrative structure to effectively oversee the domestic casino gaming industry.

We will continue with our work to finalize the Bill which will be augmented by the regulations necessary to comprehensively establish and regulate the gaming industry with the intent for both primary and secondary legislation to be tabled when parliament reconvenes.

This will keep the Government on track to have the entire statutory structure, i.e. both the primary legislation and the associated regulations, presented to this Honourable House for approval before the end of 2014.

Mr. Speaker,

As it relates to hotel resorts that will have an amenity casino in Bermuda, it is the policy of the Government to establish a Casino Gaming Commission and a Responsible Gaming Council, and to implement casino gaming on a limited basis. The overriding policy objectives of the pending legislation include, inter alia, the following:

• Promote and enhance development of the hotel industry through new construction and redevelopment of existing facilities;
• Increase tourism visitation to Bermuda;
• Attract investment in the casino and hotel industries;
• Strict and comprehensive regulatory oversight over all aspects of casino gaming;
• Gaming licensees shall be held to the highest standards of licensing;
• Ensuring that the ownership, management and operation of a casino are carried out by persons who are suitable;
• Ensuring that casino gaming is conducted honestly;
• The awarding of a license is a revocable privilege and licensees have a continuing duty to maintain their integrity and financial stability;
• Ensuring public confidence and trust in the integrity of casino regulation and casino operations;
• Prevention of corrupt influences from participating in the casino industry;
• Proper attention to the matter of problem gambling;
• Prohibiting underage gambling; and
• Detection and prevention of money laundering.

Mr. Speaker,

The Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport has engaged Spectrum Gaming Group (Spectrum) to provide expert advice and services to the Bermuda Government. Spectrum is a business based in New Jersey, USA with a professional team that specializes in developing and improving gaming regulatory agencies around the world.

Some of the jurisdictions where Spectrum have provided these services are New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, the Bahamas and Singapore. The latter is coincidentally the jurisdiction which the Government has decided to use as the primary exemplary model for Bermuda’s gaming industry.

Thus far Spectrum have contributed towards the drafting of the primary legislation and it is the intent to be further assisted by Spectrum with the supporting regulations to provide for the legal framework required to establish a casino gaming industry within Bermuda and to assist with the implementation of a corresponding regulatory regime and administrative structure to effectively oversee the domestic casino gaming industry.

Mr. Speaker,

The implementation of Casino Gaming legislation in Bermuda is a major statement and a jurisdictional decision that will be closely observed by our competitors and potential investors in the tourism industry.

In most jurisdictions where gaming is legal it is extensively regulated. There is probably no other business that has so many aspects of its operations so heavily regulated.It is vital to Bermuda’s reputation that we get our gaming statutory structure right and this Government is committed to doing so.

Mr. Speaker,

I conclude by stating that one of the benefits of getting into this industry at this stage is that we can learn from the mistakes of other jurisdictions. Therefore we welcome comments and input by all members on this very important legislation and I consider it an excellent opportunity to work together to implement a casino gaming model that positively sets us apart from the rest of this world.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (26)

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  1. Build a Better Bermuda says:

    Finally, a government that is interested in taking the time to make sure their legislation is correct. I look forward to this legislation, and would request that if the OBA make it public for all to review and familiarize themselves with prior to it going to the house.

    • Starting point says:

      agreed.

    • Allspice says:

      … but still a government that does what it wants without going to the people with a referendum as they promised they would. Why you may wonder? For the same reason the PLP wouldn’t go to a referendum over independence: because they knew they would lose.

      • Build a Better Bermuda says:

        Glad they cancelled the referendum, while you may have wanted to have a vote on it, they listened to the people and heard that the vast majority of Bermuda just wanted them to get on with it. They saved Bermuda a huge unnecessary expense.

        • sage says:

          Let’s do the same to legalize herb.

        • Allspice says:

          Where is the evidence of this listening of which you speak?
          Where is this listening in the public record?

          There is no referendum because there is no certainty of a win, plain and simple, and that means that your vast majority does not exist.

          Gambling is a magic bullet that is supposed to miraculously solve all our problems. Emphasis here in the word MAGIC.

          • Build a Better Bermuda says:

            Nobody has called it a magic bullet,or at least nobody with common sense. The OBA certainly hasn’t, in fact they previously stated that it wouldn’t be a magic bullet, what they have said is that they are putting it ahead for hotels as additional enhancement to for their tourist product.
            It is being done this way in the hopes of encouraging new hotel development, cause lets face it, Bermuda is an expensive place to do business, especially to build something like a hotel. The cost to build per room means the ROI is small, but if you attach a casino to the project, it’s ROI is greater.
            I for one in favor of something similar to the Bahamas model, whereby the casino is only available to guests at the hotel, this could include locals if they get a room

  2. frank says:

    this minister is a joke he needs to be kicked out

    • Sandgrownan says:

      Why? Explain?

    • Mr Stevens says:

      Funny, I have the same feeling about the PLP. Glad they kicked themselves out.

  3. Triangle Drifter says:

    Another year lost. With a little effort gaming could have been in hotels this season.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      No they couldn’t have had gambling in the hotels this year, in reality, it takes a lot to build out the legislative structure to regulate and operate a gaming industry. We have absolutely no previous ground work to build from, so it will take time, because if you don’t then the possibility of it opening up for criminal organizations to exploit for endeavours like money laundering and fraud increases. I would rather we miss this season, than end up with a legislation that will do more damage than good, it is good to know that we finally have a government that does this.

      • Triangle Drifter says:

        Did they not find a suitable model to virtually copy in Singapore?

        Come on OBA, get the lead out. Not that gaming is going to be any magical saviour. Not that gaming is going to make Bermuda unique in any way. One state after another, Canadian provinces too, either have or are going to permit gaming.

        We missed the boat 20 years ago.

  4. Unbelievable says:

    Disappointing

    • Sandgrownan says:

      It is, but it should be done right first time around. How much botched legislation did we get from the window ickers?

  5. PBanks says:

    When did the OBA start developing this casino gambling bill, independent on their decision to scrap the referendum process? So the people can have a realistic idea on when this whole thing can be settled and sorted?

    • Terry says:

      Atlantic City New Jersey comes to mind.

      2 (two) multi billion dollar Casino’s closing soon.

      Think you fools before you open your mouths.

      If they are closing there, do you think Americans will spend $600+ for airline tickets and stay ?.

      Shalom.

  6. ya right says:

    These politicians stall everything!! Nothing ends up getting done, just a whole bunch of talk.

  7. Conservative says:

    in other words they need more time to line up how all their mates will get first dibs on the concessions and get businesses organised to immediately fit into the legislative framework profitably

    not dissimilar to the amendments to the motor vehicles act recently where even before it was passed one of their mates has a business to impound you lots cars

    UBP, all over again

    • Starting point says:

      You reference an event that occurred during the PLP by a PLP minister yet you say UBP all over again. If you are going to try and fool people at least give your post some though.

      • ….Surely you jest. says:

        Because we know that never happened under the UBP.

        • Build a Better Bermuda says:

          And so did the PLP, however, the PLP campaigned against cronyism, but once in took it to levels the UBP would have never gone to.

  8. JH says:

    It is indeed comforting to know that this Government is taking the time to try and get it right. When legislation is rushed through it can cause all sorts of unintended consequences. Things like 1,000s of people being elligible for Status. That’s what you call a faux pas.

    The responsibility lies with the Government to get it right first time.

    PLP did not and now wants to blames anyone but themselves.

    • Evie says:

      When the dust settles and we look back on all the wonderful things the OBA has done under the guise of the betterment for Bermuda and Bermudians I hope and pray they are right because this decision the OBA has made will affect us all for many years to come good or bad The Struggle Continues

  9. Dread says:

    I hope the PLP MPs are not getting paid.No work no pay,seems logical to me.

  10. just saying says:

    Hmmm…Paradise

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