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New regulations for Jamaican gaming lounges

Jamaica Observer

New regulations for Jamaican gaming lounges

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KINGSTON – A new programme aimed at preventing money laundering activities inside gaming lounges across the island is to begin in April of this year and will require gamers to properly identify themselves before they can gamble.

Gamers will be required to provide their names, proper identification and references — the same measures used when joining a bank.

The programme, which is being implemented by the Betting, Gaming, and Lotteries Commission (BGLC), is a part of a comprehensive, responsible gaming policy that was developed last year to comply with measures under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

Executive director of the BGLC, Andral ‘Jack’ Shirley, told the Jamaica Observer that because of Jamaica’s participation in the international treaty for proceeds of crime, all gaming lounges have been designated non-financial institutions.

This, he said, means that “they are treated like a financial institution in that persons go in there to do business… play games on the machine. They have to go through some level of scrutiny to ensure that they are fit and proper to be conducting business and they are not involved in any anti-money laundering activities and this is part of the anti-terrorism programme.

“Gaming lounge operators are required to do what banks do, that is, to know their customers and by so doing questions will be asked to ensure that they know to whom they are doing business and people do not use playing games as an opportunity to launder money, “ Shirley said. “So come April we will have to implement that programme throughout all the gaming lounges and later on I suppose it will extend to the entire industry to include horse racing and lotteries.

“We have to implement all the necessary changes in the industry because internationally and in other major jurisdictions that is just normal activity for people to undergo scrutiny when then go in any of these establishments to play on the machines.” he added.

According to Shirley, money laundering can be done in various ways, as such the programme is trying to limit the possibility of that taking place in gaming lounges.

Operators who fail to comply with the new measures face revocation of their licences and if they are found in any money-laundering activities, also face severe fines and confiscation of assets.

Shirley said that the comprehensive, responsible gaming policy — which includes a responsible gaming code of conduct for gaming lounges, training and compliance with these standards — will be enforced as an additional condition for licences to take effect from April 2016-2017.

In the meantime, he said the commission has been providing training and advisory services to gaming lounge operators to assist them in conforming with the new policy and measures.

And so far, Shirley said that the operators are very cooperative.

“They are responsible persons who do not want to jeopardise their businesses because they do make good money so they don’t need to be involved. But then again staff could be involved, but the rules that we are putting in place will encompass staff owners and gamers,” he said.

The POCA legislation is aimed at strengthening the framework for combating money laundering and terrorism financing in Jamaica.

As a designated non-financial institution under the Act, game lounge operators have a responsibility to ensure that their businesses are not used by criminals to launder the proceeds of their crimes. (Jamaica Observer)