Just days after the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club in Bermuda lost its casino partner, Century Casinos, the St. Regis Bermuda Resort felt it needed to discuss its future casino plans with the government. That took place last week, although there’s no indication that real progress is being made.
Century Casinos grew impatient with waiting and recently decided that the lack of legislative clarity was reason enough to throw in the towel. It’s been more than nine years since the process to bring casinos to Bermuda began. But it seems to be in a quagmire of bureaucratic sludge.
Marriott-operated St. Regis reacted almost immediately after Century Casinos said it was leaving. The Royal Gazette confirmed that company representatives met with government officials at the end of last week. However, if they made any real advances, no one is saying.
Fluff And No Stuff
The only news that surfaced from last week’s meeting was a photo op. In it, Bermuda Premier David Burt and Minister of Tourism Vance Campbell met with representatives of St. Regis.
There’s another person in that meeting, as well. However, that individual’s image is cropped out of the photo and the media outlet didn’t provide any details on his or her identity.
The Royal Gazette explained that the individuals on the St. Regis side of the table included owners of the hotel and a “representative of their proposed casino operator.” However, it didn’t name the operator, and attempts to identify it have been futile.
The representatives also met with the Bermuda Gaming Commission (BGC) ahead of their meeting with Burt and Campbell. A government spokesperson said in a statement following the conclusion of both that the talks were “frank and extremely useful.” However, that’s the extent of the information available.
Campbell added after the meeting that his meeting with St. Regis representatives and Burt offered insight into the property’s operations and “additional thoughts on the coming season.” However, similar to the statement by the unidentified government spokesperson, there was no indication of serious progress on the casino discussion.
Burt weighed in as well in comments he shared. He said that government officials are meeting with banks and hoteliers and are trying to address the delays. Burt also reiterated previous comments that the government is working with the BGC in order to try to come up with “the necessary balance between encouraging gaming” and regulations.
St. Regis Still Optimistic
No one seemed to be willing to share specific details about what’s causing the delays or what the future holds. However, St. Regis is reportedly still 100% behind its casino plans.
Burt said that it has a “positive outlook for a casino.” He added that everyone, including the government, is behind the project, an “economic imperative for Bermuda.”
Some have said that part of the delay might be because of Burt’s involvement. They argue that the government doesn’t need to interfere with the BGC’s efforts. This was part of the reason former BGC chairman Alan Dunch resigned.
It didn’t help that the Casino Gaming Amendment Act of 2017 gave more power to the Tourism Ministry. This included the ability to control, almost at will, who was on the BGC board.
However, as a new government body and regulator, it’s illogical to expect the BGC to get started without involvement from higher-ups on the government ladder. Even today, the UK’s gambling industry, one of the oldest established industries in Europe, finds the government setting policies.
Still, Bermuda’s government spent exorbitant amounts of money and resources to launch the casino project. Supporters of the initiative want it to begin reaping benefits, and don’t believe that coming up with solutions in a country of only around 64,000 should take this long.
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