MPs Pass Casino Gaming Amendment Bill

December 8, 2017 | 13 Comments

The Casino Gaming Amendment Bill 2017 passed in the House of Assembly today [Dec 8] by a vote of 17 – 12, with Minister of Tourism & Economic Development Jamahl Simmons proposing amendments to the Bill before it was passed.

The amendments to the Bill were to make clear that any direction be provided only in written form to insure that there is a clear and unambiguous record,  and to provide specific conditions upon the Ministerial ability to revoke an appointment based on the inability or unwillingness of a member to perform their duties, or in such other circumstances as may amount to misconduct, breach of best regulatory practice or are likely to bring the Commission or the government into disrepute.

In delivering the brief before the debate, Minister Simmons said, “Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the Bill before the House today is to make amendments to the Casino Gaming Act 2014.

“As I informed this Honourable House in a previous ministerial statement, the Government has been subjected to a calculated, malicious and divisive media campaign surrounding the issue of gaming. A calculated, malicious and divisive campaign designed to resurrect the deplorable stereotype held by a few of a Progressive Labour Party that is inherently corrupt, inherently dictatorial and inherently incompetent.

“Mr. Speaker, we reject those stereotypes and we reject the practitioners of dog whistle style media campaigns that may excite the fears of an ever shrinking, increasingly irrelevant few, but that are rejected by the many.

“Mr. Speaker, the government has been given a mandate. A mandate of which has never been seen since the advent of one man, one vote of equal value under the former Progressive Labour Party. It is right and proper that every entity that we have under our remit as the government has with us a relationship based on mutual respect and trust to execute that mandate.

“Mr. Speaker, AML/ATF assessment that Bermuda faces next year is critical to the protection of our economy and maintaining a foundation for growth. Every arm of the government and every entity under our remit must understand this and based on relationships of mutual trust and respect, must be prepared to execute wherever they can and whenever they can to assist with this assessment.

“Attempts to receive cooperation from the previous incarnation of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission on this critical assessment were not forthcoming, with a non-participation in the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee’s National Risk Analysis, failure to provide the requested presentation for the related workshops and failure to provide the analysis and conclusions of the working group that the Commission was chairing.

“This lack of cooperation jeopardized our ability to meet our obligations and was not acceptable to this government and I am sure would not be acceptable to the people of Bermuda.

“To that end, we propose an amendment to the Act that will enable the Minister to provide direction to the Commission after consultation with the Commission.

“With your indulgence Mr. Speaker, I would like to propose an amendment to the Bill in committee that will make it clear that such direction be provided only in written form to insure that there is a clear and unambiguous record of any directions provided by the Minister in consultation with the Commission.

“This approach is not unusual, not unique and not unheard of in this jurisdiction and in others. The Bermuda Monetary Authority is the prime example that many are aware of and whose independence remains unquestioned.

“In fact Mr. Speaker, if we were to compare the original Bermuda Casino Gaming Bill passed under the previous government with the Singapore Casino Control Act one could easily come to the conclusion that the legislation passed by the previous government was little more than a cut and paste of that document.

“With one major exception. Specifically clause 11 and Schedule 1 of the Singapore Casino Control Act which makes provisions for Ministerial direction and the revocations of appointments of Commissioners. This was left out of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Act.

“The Government has taken note of the disquiet and angst surrounding the broadness of the powers laid out in the initial bill tabled several weeks ago. Upon reflection and with careful consideration the Government, with your indulgence Mr. Speaker, would like to move amendments to this bill in committee that will provide specific conditions upon the Ministerial ability to revoke an appointment based on the inability or unwillingness of a member to perform their duties, or in such other circumstances as may amount to misconduct, breach of best regulatory practice or are likely to bring the Commission or the government into disrepute.

“These proposed amendments, in our view, preserves the intent of an independent Commission and prevents the arbitrary, unjustified removal of members of the Commission by this Minister, a future Minister or a future government. It should be noted that the Chairperson of the Gaming Commission has been consulted on the proposed amendments to the Bill and is supportive of the same.

“It is the intent of this government to move forward with Gaming focused on creating economic growth, jobs and opportunities for Bermudians. As Bermudians continue to lose jobs in hotels while non-Bermudian jobs continue to grow, it is clear that economic growth, job creation and the expansion of entrepreneurial opportunities for Bermudians was what we have been elected to do and what we will do. In clean, corruption free gaming environment and in every facet of our economy.

“What is clear is that for progress to occur in Bermuda, we must develop a renewed commitment to relationships based on trust and mutual respect. Where there is no trust and where there is no respect there will be no progress.

“As former Premier Scott once articulated, ‘Bermuda works best when we work together.”

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Comments (13)

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  1. Pork chop says:

    I am very pleased with this outcome.

  2. Bermewjan says:

    Well done Jamal. You’ve effectively killed gaming in Bermuda due to your ignorance of international AML compliance. I’ve been hoping this would be the outcome as gaming would only harm our Fianacial Sevices sector credibility. Again, well done!

    • Trufth says:

      I agree. This is the best outcome because now, there will NEVER be gaming in Bermuda. No one in their right mind would go forward knowing this lot is going to be involved.
      Thank you!

    • What?? says:

      I’m curious. Does the effectiveness of the BMA have any bearing on our financial services sector credibility? Because the Minister’s ability to appoint or remove members of the BMA Board of Directors and pass policy guidance to the BMA is pretty much exactly the same as the power given to the Minister over the Gaming Commission.

  3. Kevin says:

    They have successfully
    Ruined the chance of having an non corrupt Gaming industry
    Become the laughing stock of the world with the revoking of the Same Sex Marriage law
    legalized use of a drug without provisions in place to be sure vehicles are not operated by those under the influence

    In 1 Night

    • Athena says:

      Thank you for summing up nicely the disaster this party has shown itself to be in five short months.

  4. Stevie says:

    Simmos….clueless…just like the rest of the PLP.

  5. the real Terry says:

    Instead of passing laws to make corruption more difficult they pass laws making it easier, do you think this is deliberate you bet your a$$ I do

  6. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    Shame on them !

    CHURCH AND STATE.

    They did not talk about all those un married mothers ” Single parents” whose children have fathers gone missing, those children have rights :::::::or do they ?

    The “man and woman “Marriage act or union applies to them, as some body has to accept responsibuility.

    What about children from more that one father ?

    Who puts clothes on their backs .

    The women carry the burden of managing a house hold .

    They talk about rights now put that on the table.

    lets call that ” Protection of woman and children act”

  7. Mark says:

    And let the problems begin! Great job all you voters who voted these numpties in!

  8. Dean says:

    DICTATORSHIP at its finest all in one night. Pure incompetence and lack of the ability to realize the world is watching not as Simmons says a ” ever shrinking, irrelevant few” So some people of this island are such. I hope this comes to bite him in his a++. NO ONE IS IRRELEVANT and with a statement like that he and his party will have a hell of a job to DISSPELL that mantle of their past of a “party that is inherently corrupt,inherently dictatorial, and inherently incompetent” what i see is little more than we will do as we want how we want when we want and F+++ the population of the island and the world.

  9. What?! says:

    So is Bermuda now considered a Benevolent Dictatorahip? Comparing us to Singapore and trying to mirror. Ridiculous.

  10. Joe Bloggs says:

    No, Bermuda is now a place that has legalised gambling lawsin place but will never have any legalised gambling because no bank will accept gambling money. That is the whole point of the amendment, appear to be one thing when in fact being really the opposite.

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