Senate Passes Casino Gaming Amendment

December 14, 2017 | 15 Comments

The Casino Gaming Amendment Bill 2017 was passed in the Senate yesterday, with the Bill “intended to give the Minister responsible for the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission the ability to provide from time to time and in consultation with the Commission, written general direction to the Commission that is deemed to be in the public interest.”

The Government Senators and one Independent Senator spoke in support of the Bill, while the Opposition Senators and one Independent Senator expressed concerns about the Bill and said they did not support it. You can read some of the Senators comments made during the debate here in our live updates.

In delivering the Brief, Senator Crystal Caesar said, ”The purpose of the Bill today is to make amendments to the Casino Gaming Act 2014.

”These proposed amendments are intended to give the Minister responsible for the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission [The Commission] the ability to provide from time to time and in consultation with the Commission, written general direction to the Commission that is deemed to be in the public interest.

”This change to the existing legislation brings the Casino Gaming Act in line with the legislation that the Bill was modeled after; The Singapore Casino Control Act, by permitting the Minister to provide direction the their regulatory body.

”As an added layer of security, the amendment mirrors the Bermuda Monetary Authority Act, requiring the Minister to provide written direction.

”The purpose of the direction being provided in writing is to provide openness and full transparency to any legitimate direction provided by the Minister in consultation with the Commission Board that is deemed to be in the public interest

”The Casino Gaming Amendment 2017 will also permit the Minister responsible for the Commission to revoke the appointment of a Commission member who is unable or unwilling to perform his/her duties, for misconduct, a breach of best regulatory practices, or likely to bring the Commission or the Government into disrepute.

”Madame President, members should be aware that the original Bill tabled in Parliament was amended from its original form.

”These changes were a direct result of consultation with the newly appointed Chair of the Commission, former magistrate Cheryl Mapp – along with the remaining members of the Commission.

”To be clear, the Bill we are debating today is significantly different from the original Bill as it creates greater specificity on the conditions surrounding the revocation of board appointments and requiring directions to be provided only in writing.

”To be clear, these amendments will not permit the Minister to direct the Commission as it relates to the awarding of Casino gaming licenses, nor will it permit this Minister or any future Minister, to intervene or interfere with any investigations relating to gaming.

”Madame President, the recent media disinformation campaign against the government perhaps has obscured some of the serious issues surrounding the work of the Commission. As many are aware, in 2018 Bermuda will face a mutual evaluation of the Anti-Money Laundering Combating Financing of Terrorism or AML/CTF Regime to ensure that we are compliant with FATF’s technical requirements and that our regime is effective.

”This assessment 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.

”Specifically this involved non-participation in the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee’s National Risk Analysis, failure to provide the requested presentation for the related workshops – and whilst Commission staff were represented in many meetings and discussions at the working group level, the Commission Board did not support the provision of critical analysis and conclusions required by NAMLC.

”Furthermore, a request to move responsibility for Betting shops from the Ministry of Finance to The Commission was declined. These actions potentially jeopardized our ability to meet our obligations and were not acceptable to this government – which I am certain are acceptable to the people of Bermuda.

”These proposed amendments, in our view, preserves the intent of an independent Commission and prevents the arbitrary, unjustified removal of members of the Commission, while allowing the Minister to provide written direction after consultation with the Commission.”

This Bill was one of several that passed in the Senate yesterday, other Bills that passed include the Bermuda National Parks Amendment Act 2017, the Bermuda National Parks Amendment [No. 2] Act 2017, the Land Title Registration Amendment Act 2017, the Residential Care Homes and Nursing Homes Amendment Act 2017, the Health Insurance Amendment Act 2017, the Domestic Partnership Act 2017, The Misuse of Drugs [Decriminalisation of Cannabis] Amendment Act 2017, and the Price Commission Amendment Act 2017.

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Comments (15)

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  1. SpinCycle says:

    So we…
    1. Undermined the credibility of our gaming ambitions
    2. Allowed motorized vehicles into our Parks
    3. Took a step back on equal rights
    4. Legalized a drug that demotivates most people who use it
    One small step forward for Government, one giant leap backwards for Bermuda!
    Well done P.L.P. = Progress Lacking Practicality

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      I would assess matters a little differently.

      1. We have eliminated any chance of any reputable bank dealing with the proceeds of commercial gambling in Bermuda.

      2. We have condoned the use of motorised vehicles on what used to be public footpaths, so that those public footpaths can be a dangerous as any road.

      3. We have taken 2 steps back on human rights, first against those born outside of Bermuda and, second, against gay people no matter where there were born.

    • sage says:

      Stop stereotyping people who use ganja, you SSM campaigners are sore losers and just as hateful as the religious fanatics yet want to garner support. Ganja was not legalized, basically nothing has changed, since only those whom the police see fit will not be charged, so gross human rights violations are continuing to be committed against a minority with the blessing of the majority with no good reason.

      • PBanks says:

        Wait sage, how can you rail against generalization and in the same breath generalize those in a different movement?

        Especially considering there’s probably at least a decent amount of overlap when it comes to supporting both causes?

  2. Joe Bloggs says:

    “Speaking in the House last Friday [10 November 2017], Minister of Economic Development and Tourism Jamahl Simmons confirmed that he has “asked for the resignation of the Chairman of the Gaming Commission on three occasions; August 10, September 27 and October 20, 2017.” (http://bernews.com/2017/11/dunch-resigns-casino-commision-chairman/)

    What did Mr. Dunch do wrong between the election in July and 10 August? Or is it simply the fact that he is Alan Dunch and will not be told by anyone what to do that made him undesirable?

  3. Warwick West says:

    This is the PLP and Mr. J Simmons we are talking about remember! It is HIS way or the high way and don’t you DARE to disagree.

    The passage of this bill and the loss of the likes of Mr. Dunch is a travesty.

    Now unsuspecting Kevin Dallas is likely to be travelling the same road. Spinless Board of Directors who had to publicly rebuke him was totally unnecessary and shows just how spinless you are.

    Mr. Dallas STAY STRONG and do not budge. At the very least, you are entittled to your opinion and, unless they have rolled it back already, FREE SPEECH is STILL allowed.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      *Spineless Board of Directors who had to publicly rebuke him was totally unnecessary and shows just how spineless you are.*

      They were just protecting their jobs . That’s more important in this day and age than doing what’s morally correct it appears.

  4. Beenthere says:

    Hope no reputable bank or any other kind of bank gets involved. Gaming is bad for Bermuda. Period.

  5. Athena says:

    Will be interesting to see what reaction comes from the ‘new’ gaming commission to the first “written general direction to the Commission that is deemed to be in the pubic interest.”

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      You will never hear of any written direction being given from either the Minister or the Commission. The Commission will simply keep mum so as not to embarrass the Minister and the Minister will tell people that such directions are confidential and to disclose them could harm gaming in Bermuda.

  6. Triangle Drifter says:

    Not that gaming had much of a chance to be successful in Bermuda in the first place but now the lid has been pretty much put on it. What reputable gaming organisation, upon doing diligence on the PLP, is going to want to have any dealings with Bermuda?

  7. Spanner breath says:

    I’ve said it before so yes repeating myself, what qualifications does the minister have to hold such an important position.

  8. Warwick West says:

    Athena – nice one!

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