Shawn Crockwell On Commission & Casinos

March 23, 2017

Independent MP Shawn Crockwell responded to comments from Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission Chairman Alan Dunch, saying the comments he made in Parliament about casino licence fees “came from individuals in the hotel development and gaming industries who reached out to me” and “there was no consultation with prospective operators before the proposed fees were tabled in the House of Assembly.”

Mr Crockwell also said, “The establishment of a successful casino gaming industry is critical to the continued revitalization of our tourism product and I am mindful that the current public dispute between the Gaming Commission and myself and others is not helpful.”

In response, Mr Dunch said he stands by the statement that he released today, adding that “there is nothing in it that I would wish to retract, having seen Mr. Crockwell’s response.”

Mr Crockwell’s Comments

Mr Crockwell said, “Let me start by stating my view of all five of the Bermuda Gaming Commissioners as being individuals of the highest integrity with an unquestionable commitment to the overall advancement of Bermuda. That is why I appointed them in the first place and I have never criticized any of them directly.

“My issue lies squarely with the Executive Director of the Gaming Commission, Mr. Richard Schuetz, who I believe has hi-jacked the clear vision for casino gaming in Bermuda from the Government and from Parliament and is taking Bermuda down the wrong path.

“I expressed this concern when I was the Minister of Tourism and made my position clear that the vision for casino gaming in Bermuda was to allow for boutique style casinos, which would provide a much needed amenity for our guests, especially in the evening, as well as provide an additional revenue stream for hotels. In particular, this initiative was to help incentivize new hotel development in Bermuda with world renown brands.

“The comments I made in Parliament, as it relates to the recently approved fees for a casino licence, came from individuals in the hotel development and gaming industries who reached out to me without my solicitation. What is a fact is that there was no consultation with prospective operators before the proposed fees were tabled in the House of Assembly.

“This was confirmed by Minister Fahy himself and reported in Monday’s edition of the Royal Gazette where he said that “the Government had consulted with several operators, discussions were about operating on the island and not fees.”

“From my perspective this is wrong as the advice I received from the professional consultants that were hired to give the Government guidance with casino gaming was that the potential operators must be consulted on the proposed fee structure and their agreement in this regard is essential. The fact this was not done is deserving of criticism.

“What is also a fact is that prior to the debate on the casino fees, an Australian casino expert, Mr. Tibor Vertes, visited the island and met with Mr. Schuetz and strongly objected to the level of the proposed fees.

“Mr. Vertes subsequently contacted myself and my law partner, Mr. Mark Pettingill, and expressed his concerns with Mr. Schutz and the level of the fees. He is not a client of ours and we have absolutely no business relationship with him. He then emailed the Premier to recount his meeting with Mr. Schuetz and the concerns that he raised.

Mr Crockwell said for “for full transparency” he will provide the email as it “corroborates the issues that both I and Mr. Pettingill have raised,” adding that it “is our responsibility as Parliamentarians and to suggest that our statements are motivated by self-interest is simply wrong.”

A small extract of the provided email, which shows as sent by Mr Vertes to the Premier, said:

I made a comment to Mr Schuetz that these fees were excessive given that in my view a “boutique” style Casino is the only enterprise that is viable in Bermuda & certainly a Wynn style Casino which already had been explored & no interest was shown by the Group.

There are many examples around the world of “Boutique” Casinos & in my view at the highest level Crown Aspinnals in London where I happen to be a long time member & others at various different lower levels.

In the Pacific region where tourism is the only industry & have a larger population than Bermuda, taxes are around 15% of Gross profit & Licence fees USD100K per annum maximum.

These fees are a “far cry” from the intended Licencing fees proposed in Bermuda. Simply, the fees proposed are prohibitive, unrealistic & either developed by lack of research or an ulterior motive.

“The establishment of a successful casino gaming industry is critical to the continued revitalization of our tourism product and I am mindful that the current public dispute between the Gaming Commission and myself and others is not helpful,” Mr Crockwell added.

“I have already had a constructive conversation with Chairman Dunch and am hopeful we can address some of these issues privately so that we can work together going forward.”

Mr Dunch Responds:

“I stand by the statement that I released today. There is nothing in it that I would wish to retract, having seen Mr. Crockwell’s response. It may be that he had persons make contact with him – but what Parliament was told was that those persons had contacted the Commission. That was not true. Parliament was also told that the designated site holders had made complaint to the Commission about the level of the approved fees. That was not true.

“It is correct, and I have never resiled from this, that there was no consultation with prospective operators on the issue of fees. There was never intended to be. The Ministers, in Parliament and in the Senate, made clear that that was the case. The fees were based upon the mandate from the Minister of Finance that the Commission had to be self-funding.

“It is ironic that one of the first meetings that I attended at the request of Mr. Crockwell was with the Maryland Gaming Commission in March 2015. One of the pieces of advice that that Commission gave us was that we should not allow operators to be involved in the issue of setting fees.

“Mr. Crockwell was at that meeting. With that in mind, I simply do not understand how he can say that it was wrong that we proceeded in the way that we did. Certainly we have never received any advice from professional consultants to that effect.

“As to the reference to this so-called casino expert, Mr. Tibor Vertes, until this afternoon I had never heard of him. Mr. Crockwell said we, the Commission, met with him. We did not.

“Since being given his name, I have done some limited research on him. As far as I can tell, he is not involved in the casino business at all. He is an internet gaming operator and, interestingly enough, I believe that Australia just banned internet gaming.

“Finally, I do not know why Mr. Crockwell has an issue with Mr. Schuetz. He never did when he was Minister. I deeply resent the fact that he and others feel it appropriate to defame people with unquestioned expertise who come to Bermuda at our invitation to assist us, all the more so because Mr. Schuetz was introduced to us by GLI, a consultant body appointed by Mr. Crockwell, and was engaged with his approval.

“To say that Mr. Schuetz has hijacked the clear vision for casino gaming, an assertion that is not particularized, is misguided and wrong. Mr. Schuetz works hand in hand with me and my fellow Commissioners. We have the highest regard for him, as does the industry at large.

“We have not hijacked anything. On the contrary, the Commission, Mr. Schuetz and all our hard working staff, consultants and advisors are in fact pursuing the mandate that we now have under the Casino Gaming Act, as amended. Nothing more, nothing less.

“I would finish by simply reiterating that the only clients that the Commission are interested in are the people of Bermuda.”

click here banner gambling

Read More About

Category: All, News, Politics

Comments (13)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Aware says:

    Alan Dunch has no agenda here and we should listen to him. Like other Commission members on this and other Commissions, they are motivated soely to serve Bermuda and it is not their career (unlike a Parliamentarian). Alan has an unparalleled reputation.

    • The Original Truth™ says:

      Did any of the commenters here read MP Crockwell’s statement before commenting. His concern is not with Mr. Dunch or the commission it’s with Mr. Richard Schuetz involvement.

  2. craps says:

    Mr Crockwell . Please just shut up. I am trying to figure out your and your new partners end game. We need it as additional revenue for govt SOONER rather than later. and not just boutique hotels. Hell typical Bermuda talk something to death just get it DONE or it will be to late yet again

  3. Joe Bloggs says:

    Dear Mr. Crockwell,

    As I recall, you appointed an independent Gaming Commission to be just that … independent of politics.

    Please let them do their job and stop the self-serving rhetoric. Just because the “independent Gaming Commission” isn’t doing what you want does not make them wrong.

  4. wahoo says:

    Oh please don’t throw the toys at each other.

  5. Trail User says:

    We only need a Boutique style casinos please stop going so big that we cant sustain. Look at the Hospital big and not practical as you cant find beds. Keep it Simple what makes anyone think we will have dozens of people flocking here to gamble.

    Small casino can work

  6. Acegurl says:

    Mr. Dunch, do not be distracted by Mr Crockwell’s comments. Do not waste your time responding. A blind man could see right through tMr Crockwell and Mr Petingill’s agendas. These are merely distraction and delaying techniques. If my memory serves me correctly, Mr Crockwell and Mr Petingill had junkets, I mean fact finding trips to Singapore, at the tax payers expense. Their findings consisted of a casino model that is of no use to this country. Please focus on the task at hand. Yes, it is time to move on casinos it is taking too much time and too much money.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      Thank you Acegurl. I will pitch in a few dollars for one-way tickets to Singapore for both Mr. Crockwell and Mr. Petingill for Christmas. Will you please organise it?

  7. just wondering says:

    Shawn – here is an idea; For goodness sake just stop issuing or making statements on this. Every time you do so you get another kicking!!

  8. jt says:

    The “wrong path” being something different than the model you selected – and had planned on. And we’re expecting to advise and represent on. Got it.

    And I’ve had plenty of landlords over the years. I don’t ever recall being consulted on what I felt the rent should be prior to signing a lease. If the fees were so awful and there was no money to be made I’m sure those well versed, industry experts would simply walk away.

  9. Barnacle says:

    Lol the anti government internet trolls are in full force clicking the dislike buttons here and on other recent stories…. Classic.

  10. Rasta says:

    Crockwell and Pettingill should stick to defending crooks!

  11. Up D hill says:

    Crockwell and Pettingel are past their due date in politics! They are on the road of me me me me ,