*iStock photo
*iStock photo

The latest plans to build a hotel on the old Club Med site will not be undermined if gambling legislation is not passed.

This according to Tourism Development Minister Shawn Crockwell, although he maintained he was 100 per cent confident the bill to allow casino gambling in Bermuda will get the go-ahead.

Government is preparing to lay the primary bill before the House of Assembly at the end of this month.

But Mr Crockwell believes the real ‘meat and potatoes’ will be in the regulations that follow the Act.

These rules could prevent locals with financial difficulties from gaming as well as allow firms to ban employees from attending establishments as terms of their work contract.

But Mr Crockwell insisted that the Desarrollos Hotelco Group’s plans to build a 238-room hotel and luxury resort at the former Club Med property were not dependent on having a casino.

He said: “The agreement in St George’s will be fine, gaming is not a priority, it is an amenity they would like to have, just like a spa.

“If the gaming legislation did not pass, it would not undermine the East End development.

“But we want to support and help, and a casino would provide revenue to the hotel.”

Mr Crockwell said he was confident that the Desarrollos plan would come to fruition.

He told the Bermuda Sun: “I am not at all critical or disappointed at the pessimism of some people in St George’s.

“But we have gone through an exhaustive process.

“We were able to go to more than 20 top developers and the experience of our consultant was invaluable.

“We would not have gone wrong with either of the final two proposals that we considered — both were outstanding and it was very close.

No issues

“There are no issues of raising the capital or having a track record of building this kind of resort.

“The hotel brand will be five star.

“I am very confident this will happen and it will prove a benefit to the East End and the whole of Bermuda.”

Asked when he envisaged Bermuda’s first casino being built, Mr Crockwell said: “We are not looking at anything before 2016.

“The Club Med site might be the most feasible at the moment but there are other existing hotels that could apply for a licence.”

Mr Crockwell added: “We are not going to rush this because it is very important

“If we create casino gaming within the right framework, it will be very successful.

“The restrictions for locals have not been determined as yet but there will be a criteria for those who are granted a casino license.

“We will consider the exclusion of individuals with pecuniary issues, those on financial assistance, those with significant child support arrears or those receiving government housing.

“Self-exclusion is also an option and we will look at whether employers can have a say over whether their employees would be able to go to casinos.

“This was done in Singapore which is the model we are following.

Exclusions

“The exclusions are not designed to limit local residents but to protect the vulnerable and it will be done in a responsible way.

“The age of access has not been decided.

“The age of majority in Bermuda is 18, whereas in Singapore only those over 21 can gain access to a casino.

“Casinos are on private property so it will be a discussion for the hotel owner and the casino operator.”