Letters to the Editor

I would like to hear the Premier’s take on gaming amendment

  • David Burt (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Dear Sir,

I write with regard to the controversial, proposed legislation to amend the Casino Gaming Act of 2014. This amendment will give tourism minister Jamahl Simmons the power to fire, without cause, fixed-term commissioners and force the independent Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission to follow government policy directions.

Various overseas gaming industry experts have voiced their concerns about the ramifications of this proposed legislation. Gaming consultant Gene Johnson, of Victor Strategies, said: “It looks, quite frankly, like an attempt to exert political control over what should be an independent organisation. It is obviously an attempt by a minister to bring the gaming commission under his direct control.”

Fredric Gushin, managing director of Spectrum Gaming Group, which worked for the Bermuda Government to help to draft the island’s Casino Gaming Act 2014 and has also worked for the Singapore Government, said gaming commissions had to be accountable, but the minister’s amendment was not the way to ensure that.

Mr Gushin, whose company has worked in 33 American states and 45 countries, said Mr Simmons’s amendment flies in the face of not compromising the integrity of the gaming commission and furthermore, he said, mixing politics and gaming usually results in an implosion or an explosion.

He also warned that the proposed change could put off investors and “certainly have a chilling effect” on efforts to get the industry up and running.

Richard Schuetz, an American casino industry veteran, and executive director of Bermuda’s own Casino Gaming Commission, recently resigned his position because he has lost confidence that the Government of Bermuda and its legal system can provide the necessary protections to offer well-regulated casino gaming on the island. This was followed recently, by the forced resignation of gaming commission chairman Alan Dunch.

I wonder whether the Premier is really in agreement with this controversial legislation; and if he is, I would like to hear his reasons why:

1, These foreign gaming industry experts are wrong

2, Why Simmons’s proposed legislation is sound policy

3, How it will positively affect Bermuda’s reputation as a potential gaming industry locale

If something smells bad, it is usually past its sell-by date.