The Bermuda House of Assembly has approved legislation that details the way in which casino sites will be designated.
The Island’s Minister of Tourism, Shawn Crockwell, presented the Casino Gaming (Designated Sites) Regulations 2015 section 4, with the legislation laying out the application process for property owners and developers interested in building a casino. The process of applying for a casino license includes a $50,000 non-refundable fee, which does not guarantee a license will be issued to operate a casino. The license itself must be sought through a separate process via the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission, which was formed earlier this year.
The Opposition believed Bermudians could benefit from casinos, however according to Jamahl Simmons, the Shadow Minister of Tourism, there have been some concerns regarding the Bermuda Government’s sometimes controversial handling of the issue. Simmons said that while the regulations presented to the House were similar to those in other jurisdictions and fairly standard, the Government needs to be proactive in its handling of gaming’s negative social effects as well as creating opportunities for Bermudians to train, according to the Royal Gazette.
A change to the legislation was made through amendments which allow not only integrated resorts eligibility, but also existing tourist sites that may want to expand into an eligible resort capable of applying to become a designated site, according to Crockwell. Smaller properties would not likely be able to take advantage of the amendments, but it may be feasible for larger ones. Crockwell noted that site designation could potentially encourage outside investment as well as increase property value. However, not every eligible property would be suitable for designation; the plan still remains to issue only three casino licenses. “We don’t expect and influx of applications,” Crockwell said.
Crockwell also made note that discussions have already begun between the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission and the Bermuda College with the intention that the Bermudians will begin training a year prior to the opening of the first casino.
The Casino Gaming Act 2014, which was tabled by Crockwell, was passed in the House of Assembly amid debate and controversy in December of last year. At the time Crockwell noted the decline of Bermuda’s tourism industry and said that while not a panacea for the tourism industry, casino gaming would serve as a catalyst for investment in the industry as well as job creation. The creation of the Gaming Act followed the Cruise Ship (Casino) Act 2013, which was passed in October last year and allows cruise ships to keep their casinos open while docked in port on the island overnight.