Bermuda Gaming Commission receives $10 million to launch market

The Bermuda government has given its Gaming Commission a guarantee of nearly $10 million, which will keep it afloat amid delays to the launch of Bermuda’s casino market.

The 2023-24 budget of $9.3 million is almost 20 times larger than the first amount allocated to the Bermuda Gaming Commission in 2018, which was around $500,000. The sum is also more than three times the $2.7 million given to the BGC a year earlier.

The Gaming Commission was initially intended to be self-funding through the use of casino fees and taxes; however, the delay of the gambling industry put a wrench in that plan.

The recent guarantee was made over seven years after the regulator, which has become twice its size, was launched. The commission began operations in 2015 with only five employees but currently has 11 out of the 14 available positions. No gaming venue has been opened since its launch, and the betting shop industry that existed in the British overseas territory is no longer functioning.

The recent report shows the full budget breakdown of the Bermuda government for the 2023-24 fiscal year. Hotel Bermuda Holdings Ltd (HBH) would reportedly receive a guarantee of $25 million, while the Bermuda Tourism Authority would be given $5 million.

According to government records, the HBH was among the development groups responsible for the St. George-based St. Regis Luxury Hotel, Casino, Spa, and Golf Resort. Attempts to discover the reason for the increased funding were evaded because the Ministry of Finance and BGC were too busy to issue responses to the inquiry.

When the commission was launched, the territory planned to create a gaming industry and use the funds provided to fund it. The BGC has continued to have delays, and the gaming property is yet to be launched.

In February 2019, the RG revealed that the Gaming Commission had been permitted to seek funding via a government letter of guarantee. The BGC was previously funded via grants and loans, which amounted to millions of dollars from the public purse.

The arrangement changed on February 15, 2019, when the Parliament released its annual report spanning September 2015 to March 2017. They revealed that the commission would seek commercial funding in the future. The Ministry of Finance released the first letter of guarantee on March 29, 2018, which allowed the commission to access a loan of up to $500,000.

Century Casinos was meant to be one of the two casinos to be built in Bermuda, but the persistent delays by the island’s gaming legislation led the company officials to back out of their decision. In January, the company officials revealed they were no longer interested in building a gaming venue at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club resort.

The St. Regis Bermuda Resort was the second casino planned for the territory, but after Century Casinos’ announcement, the gambling operator seemed to have doubts about its gaming project. St. Regis was given approval for the first Bermuda gaming venue in October; however, it has yet to launch the casino due to some regulatory uncertainty.

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