Last updated: 07:00 AM ET, Thu November 12 2015

Bermuda Officials: Resort Casinos Still On The Table For 2017

Destination & Tourism | Brian Major | November 12, 2015

Bermuda Officials: Resort Casinos Still On The Table For 2017

PHOTO: Bermuda is hoping to establish resort casinos by 2017. (Photo courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority)

Shawn Crockwell, Bermuda’s tourism minister, has long sought to revitalize the country’s lagging tourist arrivals in part through establishing resort-based casinos. Now that Bermuda has been selected to host the 35th America’s Cup sailing competition, Crockwell says he’s hoping a resort casino is in place by the start of the event.

In a Bermuda Royal Gazette report, Crockwell said the process to establish casinos has “taken longer than expected,” but said it is “still very possible” a resort-based casino would be open and operating in Bermuda “by the summer of 2017, later in the year or early 2018.”

The next steps include formulating regulations to supplement the casino legislation originally passed in 2014 and amended in 2015. Crockwell said his priority is to establish legislative power for his office to “select sites as designated sites for casinos,” in partnership with the country’s gaming commission.

Crockwell said site approval is one of “a plethora” of regulations Bermuda’s parliament must ultimately approve for the project to proceed. He added that “discussions” are underway regarding to creating casino industry training programs for Bermuda residents.

Bermuda’s acquisition of the America’s Cup, considered the world’s premiere sailing race, has placed new emphasis on Crockwell’s previously conceived plan to establish casino gaming in Bermuda as a means of revitalizing the country’s weak tourist arrivals in recent years.  

At the least, the America’s Cup will likely increase global media focus on the archipelago. The Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA)’s partnership agreement with race organizers the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) includes branding for Bermuda tourism and travel at America’s Cup venues in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The package also provides commercial airtime promoting Bermuda on U.S. broadcasts, including NBC Sports’ America’s Cup coverage in 2017. The America's Cup is considered the oldest trophy in international sport and dates back to 1851, when the yacht America, for which the trophy is named, beat British contenders in a race around the U.K.’s Isle of Wight. The Cup is currently held by Oracle Team USA of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club.

BTA officials are hoping the event jump-starts travel to the destination. While Bermuda retains a strong brand identity, particularly on the U.S. East Coast, the country’s tourist arrivals have declined consistently during the last decade.

The country hosted 72,731 overnight, land-based visitors between January and May, a 4.1 percent decline compared with the same period in 2014, according to Caribbean Tourism Organization data. Last year Bermuda hosted 224,246 overnight visitors, a 5.1 percent decline from 2013. Bermuda’s cruise sector did exhibit growth in 2014, with 356,093 arrivals, a 4.6 percent increase over 2013.

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