Ministerial Statement by the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, The Hon. Jamahl Simmons, JP, MP:
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to update this Honourable House on the drafting progress of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Regulations.
This Honourable House should be aware that casino gaming in Bermuda cannot move forward without the enactment of a casino gaming operational framework. This framework is contained in the draft Regulations that were presented to the previous Government prior to the last general election.
Unfortunately, under the previous leadership at the Gaming Commission, the process of developing these regulations hit a stumbling block. I am pleased to report that those stumbling blocks under the new Gaming Commission have now been removed, and we are seeing progress in this area. The regulatory framework being designed for Bermuda is in line with industry standards and with industry expectations which takes into account the many complexities of gaming.
Mr Speaker, the draft Regulations, nineteen sets in total, to be made under the Casino Gaming Act 2014 that include provisions regulating important controls such as a casino’s internal control policies. These internal control policy regulations will prescribe that a casino must produce a policy document that governs its overall operations. The Regulations will also stipulate that the written policies must be approved by the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission and independently certified by a third party stating that they meet the relevant anti money laundering provisions and compliance standards.
Mr. Speaker, a casino’s internal control policy document can be thousands of pages long and it touches on every aspect of the casino’s operations. This could include policies prescribing the route for the movement of cash boxes on the casino floor…..the details relating to what side of the employee’s jacket is to be visible to how high an identification badge has to be worn. Sanctions will be imposed for breaches of any policies ranging from a warning to other penalties in the form of fines and disciplinary action. For more serious breaches, it can result in the loss of an employee license or other type of license.
Mr. Speaker, another set of the Regulations govern cooperation agreements made between the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission and other foreign gaming regulatory bodies. They relate to the exchange of information for the purposes of investigations and suitability inquiries. These Regulations seek to protect the confidentiality of any exchanged information.
Regulations are also being finalized, for example, to make provisions relating to the approval by the Commission of:
- vendors and other contracts which the casino enters into;
- the licensing of employees,
- marketing agents,
- gaming vendors and equipment,
- the provision of and monitoring of patron accounts,
- patron credit and issues such as problem and responsible gaming,
- exclusion orders,
- dispute resolution,
- disciplinary procedures; to
- the role and functions of the casino’s compliance committee as examples.
Mr Speaker, as you can appreciate the regulatory package being completed by the Attorney-General’s Chambers to govern a casino’s daily operations is quite comprehensive. Therefore the regulation package, in its entirety, must be enacted prior to any casino commencing operations. Without them, the Commission will not be able to fulfill its role as the supervisory and regulatory body and a casino cannot operate.
To that end, Mr. Speaker, under new leadership, the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission is working with the Attorney-General’s Chambers, via my Ministry as the instructing government body, to ensure that these Regulations are enacted without further delay. In fact, the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Commission have agreed that, for expediency and without sacrificing due diligence in the drafting process, that the prudent way forward would be to complete the drafting and enactment of the regulatory package, under the negative resolution procedure, in three (3) phases.
The Commission has therefore prioritized the Regulations into three tranches and has requested that phase one include those Regulations that must be completed immediately, in order for the Commission to commence the suitability stage of the licensing process. Subject to those investigations, a full casino license can be issued. There are six sets of Regulations to be enacted in that initial phase.
The second phase has been identified as comprising a further six sets of Regulations which must be enacted prior to the beginning of the construction phase of the casino. These will regulate and facilitate the construction of, and the procurement of systems for the casino premises.
The final phase will see the enactment of the remaining Regulations. They must be enacted prior to the completion of construction and the opening of a casino.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the staff of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission and the drafting section within the Attorney General’s Chambers for their sterling efforts to ensure that the casino gaming regulatory package is in place and enacted expeditiously.
Finally, Mr Speaker, I wish to reiterate that this government is committed to delivering on its promise of establishing casino gaming in Bermuda for the purposes of increasing employment, investment and tourism on the Island.
Thank you Mr Speaker!