Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission Update

February 26, 2016

Minister of Tourism Development & Transport  Shawn Crockwell provided an update on the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission in the House of Assembly today [Feb 26]

Minister Crockwell said, “Over the course of the past seven months the Commission members have been steadily acclimatizing themselves with the full scope of their duties and responsibilities as Commission members, in addition to undertaking and completing the various tasks associated with the recruitment of key Commission personnel and the actual setup of the Commission offices.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to provide this Honourable House with an update on the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission [“the Commission”] and in particular to inform members of a review of the Casino Gaming Act 2014 [“the Act”] that was recently completed by the Commission.

In May of last year, I announced that I had completed the remaining two appointments of members to the Commission. Over the course of the past seven months the Commission members have been steadily acclimatizing themselves with the full scope of their duties and responsibilities as Commission members, in addition to undertaking and completing the various tasks associated with the recruitment of key Commission personnel and the actual setup of the Commission offices.

Most members will be aware of the appointment of Mr. Richard Schuetz as the Executive Director and his appointment commenced on 1st September, 2015 and I am pleased to report that Mr. Schuetz has hit the ground running and is making significant progress with the onboarding of required personnel to support the operation of the Commission.

Mr. Speaker, the Act was established to meet the challenge of enhancing investment and employment in Bermuda through the introduction of up to three Integrated Resort Casinos. In order to ensure the orderly introduction and operation of these facilities, the Commission is empowered to satisfy the following five goals in the execution of its duties:

  • The owners, vendors, managers, employees, and sources of finance should be free from any inappropriate past or present associations and behaviors, and uphold high ethical standards;
  • The casinos should possess sound operational and financial controls;
  • The games offered should be fair, honest, and operate with a high level of security and integrity;
  • All fees, taxes, and related payments, should be appropriately accounted for and paid; and
  • Controls should be in place to protect the vulnerable.

Mr. Speaker, with the creation of the Act a decision was made to use Singapore as the primary exemplary model for our gaming industry and much of what we find in the Act has been adapted from the Singaporean model.

One of the initial tasks for the Commission was to thoroughly review the Act within the context of determining what changes and amendments could and should be made to the Act to ensure the legislative framework is best suited and most appropriate for the Bermuda model. In comparison to Singapore important facts to consider are:

  • The Singaporean regulatory entity employs almost 200 people, spends $30 million annually, and receives substantial assistance from the Singaporean Police Force.
  • Their regulatory process involved hundreds of regulators, dozens of consultants, and expenditure of over $200 million during the development process which took almost 7 years.
  • The regulatory agency was spending approximately $10 million two years before the opening of the first casino.

Mr. Speaker, Singapore is a much larger jurisdiction than Bermuda with its gaming operations managing millions of patrons and generating approximately $6 billion in casino revenues. As stated above, one of the first tasks of the Executive Director and the Commission was to analyze our existing legislation to ensure that it creates the appropriate environment in which casinos can be profitable whilst maintaining the proper regulatory protections for our jurisdiction.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, it has been the approach of the Commission to suggest a streamlining of the existing process so as to be faster, smarter, and fundamentally more economical in the introduction of casinos on the Island; while working to present a system that meets the test of offering a high degree of integrity and security. In order to make this a reality, the Commission has provided recommendations to amend certain aspects of the Act.

Mr. Speaker, in order to achieve the public policy goals of the Act in ways that are smart, economical, and efficient, the suggested positioning for the Bermuda Regulatory Model is as follows:

  • To offer an approach that is appropriate to the social, cultural, and economic realities of Bermuda.
  • To offer a human resource policy of being staffed by a limited number of high performance individuals comprising the regulatory leadership team.
  • To work in a collaborative fashion with other global regulatory entities to achieve efficiencies and avoid duplicative actions.
  • To be dependent on third-parties for –
    • Forensic accounting for suitability of applicants; o Criminal & civil suitability investigations;
    • Compliance auditing assistance; and
    • Technological standards and testing
  • To be dependent on a mandated Operator Compliance Committee whereby –
    • The operator performs many tasks traditionally performed by the regulatory entity, with the Commission staff performing audits to ensure compliance where the Operator Compliance Committee is required to report all compliance failures to the Commission staff.
  • To be less reliant on prescriptive regulations by:
    • Moving to risk-based methodologies in regulatory construction.
    • Reliant on stated goals and standards.
    • Enhancing dependence on user defined internal controls
    • To utilize an evidence-based best practices approach in developing a program to provide protections to the vulnerable, working in concert with existing treatment providers

Mr. Speaker, as previously stated the two primary public policy goals of the Act are to enhance investment and employment in Bermuda. The Commission has worked hard to complete the review of the Act and in short, we believe that they have made recommendations for amendments to the Act which will result in the Act being smarter and more efficient, without sacrificing system integrity.

It is the Ministry’s intent to proceed with the recommended amendments to the Act and we are taking the appropriate steps to obtain the required approvals to table these amendments in this Honourable House as expeditiously as possible.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased with the progress that we have made thus far and I will continue to keep this Honourable House updated as we continue with the implementation of the local gaming industry.

Thank you Mr. Speaker

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Comments (18)

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  1. Triangle Drifter says:

    In short, they have done nothing. Kicked the can down the road.

    The nuclear bomb was developed & used in less time than Bermuda can install a ready made first slot machine.

  2. asampson says:

    DO SOMETHING!!!!!!!!

  3. Singapore is a wonderful example to form a base for Bermuda’s casino model; but a more realistic outcome might come from a comparison of Paradise Island, Nassau. I was a partner, and the individual that prepared the financial and impact statements for 8th Wonder Asia’s, bid for Sentosa Island, Singapore. Earlier, In the late 1960′s, I was also the financial executive of Paradise Island Ltd., the company that moved the seasonal Bahamian Club Casino, to Paradise Island and built 2 new hotels with 600 rooms. Paradise, now renamed Atlantis has approximately 4,000 rooms, currently serving all of Nassau’s visitors, and awaiting the possible future opening of Baha Mar’s casino resort on Cable Beach. Singapore is a great model for a country able to attract high income visitors from China, India, Japan and other populous Asian countries, where the compulsion to gamble far exceeds that of Bermuda’s primary market of North Americans with a small number of Europeans.
    What shouldn’t be overlooked is the 4 million plus affluent ethnic Chinese, that comprise nearly 80% of Singapore’s resident population, one of Asia’s busiest airports, 40,000 top hotel accommodations, and as headquarters to many International companies. More recently, because of issues in China’s economy, the win has dropped about 20% from its peak of over $6 billion.
    But in Bermuda, primarily dependant on North American tourism, and with casinos now convenient to your top markets, your casinos are going to be an evening’s entertainment for your adult visitors, not a primary reason to come to Bermuda. When we opened Paradise Island in 1967, our primary casino competitors were Las Vegas and Puerto Rico, an Island now suffering from many casino closings. Puerto Rico’s mistake was letting every 200 room hotel have a casino, and not closing down thousands of illegal slots, primarily appealing to the resident population. The Bahamas was much more restrictive, allowing only 2 casinos in Freeport and 2 for Nassau-Paradise Island. An analysis I prepared 40 years ago, valued a resort hotel room in Nassau/ Paradise at $22,000 annually in casino win; but because that win included a lot of pent up demand from a lack of US gaming availability, inflation might not increase that number dramatically. So, my educated guess would be that, unless you can get Sheldon Adelson or Genting to build a destination resort, like they have done in Singapore; or get China Air to provide frequent service from Beijing or Shanghai, you are probably looking at $250 mil to $400 mil in annual casino revenues. And that also means that meaningful entertainment is also included as part of the evening programs.
    To show the difference in the North American market and Asia, I offer a comparison of two LV Sands properties, the 7,000 room Venetian-Palazzo resort in Las Vegas, and the 2,500 room Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. The Vegas property, in 2015, had a 91.8% occupancy at a $234 average room rate. The Singapore one had a 96.5% occupancy at a $404 average rate. But the extraordinary difference came in casino win. Sands Vegas won $196 per occupied room, while Sands Singapore won $2,629, 15 times more.
    Sands Vegas room revenues of $544 mil exceeded casino win of $455 mil, but Singapore win exceeded $2.6 billion. So bottom line Bermuda today, casino gaming is more likely to copy Atlantis, where gaming is an important added amenity, not the primary reason to visit, unless you develop an Asian player base and the necessary transportation.

  4. Tony Brannon says:

    BERMUDA – we are simply blowing a huge opportunity by not having at least one casino ready in time for May/June of 2017.
    Americas cup will come and go, and then what ?
    To not have a casino ready in time for AMERICAS CUP, when the eyes of the world will be upon Bermuda, is a huge mistake.
    Even a casino on the water tied up at a fabulous hotel waterfront would have at least provided some extra buzz whilst any physical on-island construction takes place. WHY was this rejected ?

    Bermuda has not addressed Car Rentals – Bermuda loses business everyday because of not renting cars to visitors. Holiday makers and travelers want their own transportation and a moped is not cutting it anymore.
    Even Sir Russell Coutts was recently quoted in the UK as saying how great Bermuda is, but you can’t rent a car. How frustrating.

    Bermuda has politically shunned doing the right thing for Marriage Equality – only to have a government minister say she is NOT interested in any economic benefit that would come with marriage equality. Besides doing the obvious right thing for Human Rights & Marriage Equality, we are saying goodbye to well over $100 million annually. There are no words….

    Entertainment: Not one hotel in Bermuda properly presents nightlife. Yet every mega ship coming to Bermuda has state of the art entertainment facilities. It is shocking that entertainment in hotels has been relegated to spending as little as possible on it.
    A Tax Free Zone for the Arts proposal has fallen on the deaf ears of the former PLP Government and now the ruling OBA. Mores the pity, as that is a brilliant solution to help everyone.

    After Americas Cup comes and goes, we are all going to be wondering what next?
    If we are not firing on all cylinders by of MAY 2017 by having dynamic visitor offerings (that includes the LGBT community), entertainment, transportation and fun…… we can kiss our ass goodbye. We could blow the biggest marketing opportunity ever presented to Bermuda with the eyes of the world’s media covering this amazing race.

    Bermuda is now on the radar of the International HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN.

    We are not a diversity friendly island and worldwide global brands will soon know that we discriminate against the LGBT community in Bermuda by not recognizing their Human Rights and that includes Marriage Equality.
    These brands include all the major cruise lines sailing to Bermuda, all the airlines servicing Bermuda just for starters. Youtube, Apple, Google, Microsoft, HSBC, Facebook, eBay, Nike, GAP, Ben & Jerry’s, Banana Republic, Mastercard, AT&T, Instagram, Johnson & Johnson, Marriott, Cisco, Orbitz, UBS, Citi, Goldman Sachs, Moody’s, Expedia

    • How the F#%€ we gonna rent cars in this small Island, your judgement is warped just like your ideology.

      • asampson says:

        Yeah…pretty hard to drive here. Just look at all the `pros` we got driving around here now. Thank goodness the cars are limited to 2 litres. Tourists need some kind of safe transportation and a scooter doesn’t cut it.

      • Time saver says:

        It would be quite easy to be honest, especially as we have fewer people living here and less traffic than in the past.
        Could be set up at the airport and Dockyard.

        Or a unique selling point at Grand Atlantic. Each holiday unit comes with car rental.

        I’d rather be behind a tourist in a car than on a bike.

      • Ed Case says:

        Typical myopic view from a Bermudian who thinks we are different from everywhere else – and so ‘spashul’ that we dont need and couldn’t operate rental cars. There are islands as small as and smaller than Bermuds that rent cars and the system works very well. Too bad that narrow minded Bermudians like Union Juice can’t see this.

        • Ed Case says:

          Bermuda simply does not compete any more and it is sad. No casino, no rental cars, no night life, no new hotel, boring, boring and also boring. Pretty soon nobody will come here at all – bacause boring narrow minded Bermudians can’t get their act together and make changes. AC next year, then nothing. You’ll see. Bermuda needs to get up and do something – anything at all – just do something. Union Juice can sit and moan but it won’t do anything to help. We need a casino, rental cars, a new hotel but it won’t happen unless we do something. OBA, what is stopping you? Put some slot machines somewhere please!!!

    • Lois Frederick says:

      I think rental cars should be available to hotel guests only.

    • Your joking says:

      Agree with everything except the car rental…..the only way this works is For Bermuda to get exceptional,reliable, public transportation… a reason for Bermudian’s to ditch their cars …..need cheap $1 rides and times on every bus stop when bus will arrive( like other places in the world)……and buses coming in 15 min intervals at peak times

  5. MB says:

    @onionjuice your comment is typical of the stupidity, protectionism and narrow mindedness that exists in Bermuda. This is why tourism in the drain. Open your mind to possibilities and ways of making what tourists want work instead of beins so negative.
    @Tony, who says there won’t be a casino in time for AC?

  6. M.C. Beauchamp says:

    Renault Twizzy cars, tiny things, a scooter on four wheels are perfect for Bermuda. Yes. Hotel Guests. Absolutely. Not much different than a scooter, but inherently safer on four wheels. We need this. Badly.

  7. Ed Case says:

    Limit it to class A @ B cars but we simply must have rental cars at some point if we are interested in competing in tourism. It is no longer acceptable to say Bermuda is too small, or there are too many cars. We need to offer rentals cars to our guests or they will go somewhere else. Wake up and compete or die as a destination.