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Bermuda Online Casinos

BermudaSituated in the North Atlantic, nearly 700 miles off the coast of North Carolina, the British territory of Bermuda barely registers as a dot on most maps. But it is still well-known as a major tourism destination for Americans and other visitors from around the world. Just 65,000 people live on the island, but they enjoy one of the highest GDP per capita figures of any jurisdiction on Earth – thanks to the combination of the aforementioned tourism and a heavy presence in the insurance industry as well.

One area in which the territory is not a leader is in the gaming industry. While there are plans to bring casinos to the island, there are currently few options for legal gambling here. And while there have been no efforts to stop people from playing at foreign gambling sites, the government hasn’t shown any interest in regulating the industry locally, either.

New Bill Brings Promise of Casinos

At the moment, the gambling industry in Bermuda is rather small. Sports betting is the biggest game in town, with many venues in the city of Hamilton offering such bets. These locations act like the sportsbooks you would find at a Las Vegas resort – perhaps not quite that large, in some cases, but featuring televisions where bettors can watch games from the United States and leagues and competitions around the world.

Other types of gambling allowed here are far less formalized. The traditional dice game Crown & Anchor is quite popular here, and both bingo and tombola (a form of raffle that shares some similarities with bingo) are often offered by clubs and private organizations.

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One thing you won’t find here, at least at the moment, is a casino. However, that’s set to change, as the Casino Gaming Act of 2014 put into place rules that would allow for up to three casinos to be in operation at any one time. The move was certainly a controversial one, but the goal is to augment Bermuda’s existing tourism industry by attracting gamblers to the island as well. Supporters also argued that jobs would be created for locals through the new resorts that would be built. While there were many who expressed disappointment that the question was never put in front of the general public in the form of a referendum, overall, most lawmakers were on board with the prospect of expanding gambling.

As of March 2016, no resorts have been built here, though regulations have slowly been developed since the bill was passed. The Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission has been set up to deal with oversight and regulation of the industry, and rules on how sites for the resorts will be chosen have been put into place. Some lawmakers have suggested that the first casino could be opened in time for the America’s Cup in 2017, a major tourism draw for the island.

However, it isn’t clear whether this is a realistic goal. The head of the gaming commission recently said that despite rumors, no sites have yet to be selected for the resorts. He also noted that the process of opening one of these venues takes a long time – something that doesn’t bode well for that 2017 projection.

Hands-Off Attitude Towards Internet Gaming

Bermuda’s policy towards online gambling is hard to pin down, largely because it seems as though there is no such policy. Instead, the territory has seeming taken a laissez-faire approach, allowing the industry to exist without taking any steps towards regulating the practice.

What does this mean in practice? There are no online gambling sites in Bermuda that are government licensed, and so there aren’t any regulated locally-owned sites available. On the other hand, there is nothing to stop Bermudians from playing on foreign sites, something many do without any risk of repercussions from the government, which seems content to stay out of the business of online gaming, at least for now.

This means that most of the world’s biggest online casinos and poker rooms are available to players here. Not everyone wants to offer their games here: as in many “grey markets,” some of the bigger publically-traded firms stay away in order to maintain as clean a regulatory profile as possible. But that still leaves many reputable developers whose games can be played here. Examples include:

  • IGT
  • Microgaming
  • NetEnt
  • Play’n GO
  • Nyx Interactive
  • Betsoft
  • Realtime Gaming

Resorts are Coming, But Where?

By far, the biggest question facing Bermuda’s gaming industry is the locations of the casinos that have been approved by the government there. The request for proposal process has yet to begin, and with the gaming commission promising that this process would be transparent, we should have plenty of warning before anything is decided.

Once applications begin to be accepted, simply processing them will take months, and even when winners are selected, it’s likely that building the facility, training workers and installing equipment will delay any opening significantly. If someone wants to build a new integrated resort, the timeline could even be set back by years. In even the most optimistic case, it should be a couple years before tourists are playing slots and blackjack on the island.

Then there is the question of online casinos in Bermuda. Right now, there are still no plans to introduce legislation regulating these businesses in Bermuda, but that doesn’t mean it could never happen here. The Progressive Labour Party, currently the opposition party in the territory’s legislature, has made a point of talking about many ways in which it thinks it could improve the budgetary situation on the island. One of these proposals is the addition of an online gambling industry.

Of course, simply proposing a general idea is a far cry from enacting it into law. The current ruling party hasn’t had anything to say about Internet betting, and it is unclear whether even the PLP would make it a legislative priority. Plus, with the importance of developing the land-based casino over the next few years, we imagine that any Internet expansion will remain on the backburner, at least for the time being.

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