Insiders believe Bermuda might never see a casino due to Gov. mismanagement, says local media

Optimism over casino gaming arriving in Bermuda seems to be fading away, according to local media reports. While officials have announced a shakeup of legislative reforms amid the lack of progress in launching a casino, industry insiders believe that the British Overseas Territory (BOT) might never see gambling because of the government’s mismanagement of the project.

Bermuda’s The Royal Gazette says fears have been raised by an unnamed gaming industry insider that the jurisdiction will never see a casino open on the island due to “spectacularly bad” handling of the situation. The comments come in the wake of failed attempts to launch a casino at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, and recent top-level meetings on the future of a proposed casino at the St Regis hotel.

The insider said that the Government has “destroyed” the perception of independence for the Bermuda Gaming Commission with a sweeping overhaul of its structure in the Casino Gaming Amendment Act 2017, reports the cited source. As a result, according to the insider, US banks would “blackball” any money originating from casinos in Bermuda; a move that would mean that financial institutions on the island would not be able to secure a necessary “correspondent bank” overseas needed to handle gaming monies.

The bid to create a casino industry on the island has been beset with delays and controversy. Century Casinos announced last month that it was giving up on its plans to build a casino at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, a decision that followed over nine years of waiting for Bermuda to finalize its plans for land-based casinos. Bermuda Premier David Burt had initially stated the island would have its first casino by the end of 2021.

Hamilton Princess & Beach Club

The St. Regis Bermuda Resort, which should have already been able to launch its casino after receiving a license last year, is still working through the process, which remains cloudy. Burt, who also serves as Bermuda’s Finance Minister, is seemingly wanting to bring clarity to the issue and announced new reforms that he says will get the casino industry moving. Among them is a plan to move away from the integrated resort model, instead letting casino operators be able to determine the model that will best serve their purposes.

Thus, the government now needs to update the Bermuda Gaming Commission’s charter in order to allow it to respond to those determinations. While Burt told legislators this month that the changes he is preparing will overcome obstacles to bringing casino gaming to the island and allow for the gaming industry to finally move forward, some have already lost their hope.

The source told The Royal Gazette “it is clear now that we will never see a casino” in Bermuda. “The whole situation has been handled spectacularly badly by the Government. The whole concept of gaming on the island was misconceived from the outset,” the person said. “Trying to bring in three or four small casinos attached to hotels in order to enhance them was the wrong idea from the start. It needed to be a major casino branded to a hotel if it was going to work.”

The comments echo those “of a number of other senior banking and hotel industry insiders” who have repeatedly told The Royal Gazette that the Government is seen as having too much power and sway over the commission.