The Bermuda Gaming Commission’s remit was expanded in August of last year to include the regulation of betting shops. Part of the transfer of responsibilities to the Commission included a new and more robust regulatory framework for betting shops in Bermuda. These changes are intended to ensure that gaming is conducted honestly and to reduce societal harm (e.g. provisions prohibiting minors on premises).
The process for developing this new regulatory framework and legislation was initiated over two years ago and included extensive industry consultations.
The new legislation, the Betting Act 2021, establishes very specific requirements for the operation of betting shops in Bermuda. The Commission has over the last several months reached out to existing operators (licensees) and prospective betting shop operators to ensure that they were aware of these requirements. Existing operators were also aware that all licences expire on March 31st of this year, and that they were required by law to file their renewal application at least 3 months prior to the expiry of their licence.
There were 4 betting operators licensed in Bermuda operating 5 betting shops – however, in the last several months, only 3 of these licensed operators were open for business.
The Commission extended the deadline for the submission of the renewal for all applications by 30 days to January 31, 2022. The Commission further extended the deadline for the filing of applications for two of the betting shops who requested it.
Whilst the Commission can and has exercised discretion in the handling of the applications, there are some prescribed legislative requirements where the Commission has no discretion. One such legislative requirement is that all licences expire on March 31st and the Commission has no legislative authority to extend licences beyond that date in the absence of a complete application.
Regrettably, the Commission has not received one complete application that meets all mandatory statutory requirements from existing licensees for renewal by the deadline of March 31st. As a result, all four betting licences have expired, and betting shops must cease operation as of the end of March 31st.
The Commission will continue to work with applicants once they have submitted a complete application as required by the legislation and will support all applicants in this process.
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