Michael Dunkley: Casino Bill Is A “Bad Move”

December 11, 2017

“The future for gaming looks bleak especially with the passage of the Casino Gaming Amendment Act 2017,” Michael Dunkley said, adding that “it’s a wrong move, it’s a bad move and it will backfire.”

MPs Pass Casino Gaming Amendment Bill

The Casino Gaming Amendment Bill 2017 passed in the House of Assembly on Friday, with Minister of Tourism & Economic Development Jamahl Simmons proposing amendments to the Bill before it was passed.

The Minister said the amendments to the Bill “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” and “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.”

Minister Simmons said, “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.

“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.

Michael Dunkley’s Comments

Mr Dunkley, the former Premier, said, “On September 22nd, 2017, I spoke on the Motion To Adjourn about the mounting concern that gaming might not happen in Bermuda. I stated at that time if gaming is not set up properly it will not work for the betterment of Bermuda, our people and the investors.

“There is much to do in any jurisdiction to build an effective framework for gaming; legislation and regulation are key to making it happen and allowing the operation of casino gaming, dealing with problem gaming and catching corruption and fraud.

“Bermuda has made steady progress and since the inception of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission, under the guidance of Alan Dunch, the Commissioners and the BCGC led by Richard Schuetz, we were positioned to deal with the biggest remaining hurdle, that of obtaining a correspondent banking partner.

“However, since the election little has been done and in my view the BCGC has not had the support of the Government. Instead we have witnessed the Government trying to exert undue influence and control on a body that should be as independent as possible from the political process as experience has shown that politics and gaming do not mix.

“Couple this with the fact that the PLP has said little of what their vision for gaming is in their election platform, Throne Speech or comments from the Minister or Premier.

“The future for gaming looks bleak especially with the passage of the Casino Gaming Amendment Act 2017, an amendment that is considered draconian by many, and if you don’t believe me then just listen to industry experts.

“The original Casino Gaming Act was passed in December of 2014 after a long debate. During that debate the PLP as the opposition raised no concern in anyway with the two sections of the act which were amended last Friday.

“Section 8 deals with Objects of the Commission and was amended to provide the Minister with greater control; being able to issue general directions which the commission must comply with.. Schedule 1 deals with the Constitution and Proceedings of the Commission and was amended to allow the Minister, at any time, to revoke the appointment of a member.

“One wonders why no concern was raised in 2014, but now amendments are made?

“During the 2014 debate the PLP questioned many other sections but not a single word on these two. In fact they even tabled an amendment for another section which was not agreed. So why were these two sections ok to be passed in 2014 but not acceptable now?

“Bermuda holds a hard earned reputation as an open and transparent jurisdiction where we do things right. This amendment has the potential to undermine that reputation and undermine the independence of the BCGC as it allows the Government, any Government, to provide unfettered direction.

“This amendment takes away the independence of the commission, takes away the ability for critical thought, and takes away our hard earned reputation built in commerce, business and tourism.

“My colleagues knew we had no ability to stop the legislation in the House but we also don’t want to say in 1, 2 or 10 years down the road ‘we told you so.’

“I thought that in light of the fact that Mr. Dunch has resigned the legislation would be put on hold. But no the Government has decided to barrel forward in spite of advice from experts in the industry. This is a backward step.

“It’s a wrong move, it’s a bad move and it will backfire,” Mr Dunkley said.

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Comments (12)

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  1. Mark says:

    Thanks dunkley. In other news, rain is wet!

  2. OMG go away says:

    Hmmmm were was your opinion when it came to same sex couples. You have some nerve. All you and your oba/UBP always worry about money and not the people.

    • Double S says:

      How is the PLP going to serve ‘the people’ with no money?

      And why don’t you address the issue at hand and stop deflecting.

      This amendment was made in haste and for special interests (and nothing to do with the ‘people’s’ best interests).

      Be happy and genuinely interested to hear why you think political interference is a good thing for casino gaming.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Hmmmmm, it takes money to do anything for ‘the people’. Never seen anyone do anything for free, especially if it involves Government. No, money does NOT grow on trees. It does not fall from the sky either.

  3. bdaboy says:

    ” All you and your oba/UBP always worry about money and not the people.”

    LMFAO, more revisionist history from the PLP.

  4. ImJustSayin says:

    I agree it is a bad move. Anyone with any sense can see that.

  5. Joe Bloggs says:

    Dear Mr. Dunkley, the PLP Government does NOT want gaming in Bermuda. Surely you must appreciate that by now.

    The current position allows the PLP Government to say that we still have gaming legislation to possibilities in Bermuda whilst at the same time ensuring that we do not have any commercial gaming in Bermuda

  6. OMG:
    Dunkley, your hands were tied behind your back.
    Are you now freed from that?? Unbelievable chain of events.
    Rather sad.
    The best was done by OBA to look out for AC, but Bermudians were forgotten.
    Do you remember????
    HHMM.. tied hands allow safety from mischief!!

  7. Go Fish says:

    The OBA apparently tried to run a public campaign against the PLP and then when all looked like they would not get their way Dunch and Schuetz resigned hoping that the PLP would not follow through. Let this be a message to you people who think you can throw rocks at us Bermudians and get away with it. We need to have a Bermudian company running the gaming system with Bermudians working in the regulatory and operations side of the casinos and we need the majority of the proceeds from gaming returned to the people of Bermuda especially us in the community who have suffered for so long!

  8. One Who Escaped says:

    Someone should jump on the opportunity to study Bermuda. It’s not often that scientists get to research backwards evolution.

  9. BlackJack says:

    We’ve been seriously talking Casinos/Gaming for at least six years and probably closer to ten. What is pathetic is that during all that time not a single one has opened. Pathetic! (Yet again).