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Gaming expert praises commission

A gaming expert has come to the defence of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission after the body was criticised in Parliament as ineffectual in advancing the new industry in Bermuda.

The commission came under fire yesterday from Independent MP Mark Pettingill, who joined fellow Independent Shawn Crockwell in attacking the fees proposed for casinos.

Kevin Mullally, of Gaming Laboratories International, issued a statement responding that a “world-class” gaming model could be up and running soon — and said he had “great respect” for the commission’s members and leadership.

Its executive director, Richard Schuetz, brings “an unparalleled skill set to Bermuda”, Mr Mullally said.

The vice-president of government relations and general counsel at GLI, Mr Mullally has served as a consultant for the Bermuda commission since he was hired in early 2015 when Mr Crockwell was Minister of Tourism and Transport.

Mr Crockwell has repeatedly accused the Government of misinforming the House of Assembly over consulting prospective casino operators over the gaming fees, while Mr Pettingill suggested members of the commission ought to resign over the matter.

Mr Mullally defended Bermuda as possessing “all the attractive tourism components that one would look for in a place to build a gaming resort”, and praised the island’s business community and reputation for safety as potentially attractive to “a lot of developers”.

Conceding that progress on starting local casinos had been slower than first anticipated, Mr Mullally pointed to delays in passing the Casino Gaming Act 2014 — which had been modelled on Singapore’s regulations.

“Singapore and Bermuda are two very different jurisdictions. There is no correlation in population size, inhabitants of the jurisdiction or the tourist model.

“The airports don’t share any similarities, the visitation rates aren’t the same, the size of the Government is different and the resources are unique as well, so it wasn’t really a great model to use.”

Mr Mullally, who is expected to return to the island next month, attributed the delayed start in casino vetting and selection to the lengthy legislative revisions required, but said the commission had made “very substantial progress”, using the wait to reckon with “what types of projects would best fit Bermuda”.

“If the commission’s recommendations for rules can be adopted quickly, the more visible work of the commission can begin.”

GLI was said to have worked extensively with stakeholders in Bermuda gaming.

“Bermuda is in a position to do some great and much needed work in the area of responsible gaming,” Mr Mullally said. “Just because Bermuda does not yet have a casino does not mean there is no gambling occurring on the island or people who have problems associated with it.”