Gaming Industry Breaking Int’l Laws
By Ianthia Smith
The Bahama Journal
As it stands now the gaming industry in the country poses many problems for the country, both nationally and in the international arena, which is why Prime Minister Perry Christie says the country must come to a decision soon as to how it will proceed with this issue.
Prime Minister Christie said the options for his government are simple: either shut down local web cafés or make them legal.
He added that that decision would soon have to be made as the current operation of the gaming industry in The Bahamas leaves much to be desired and in some ways contravenes international laws.
“The web shop operators are unable to secure bank accounts for their businesses as they do not satisfy the relevant anti-money laundering rules,” he explained. “There are concerns regarding the way in which the cash generated from the business is legitimised.”
“The web shops are used to facilitate the transmission of funds between individual resident on different Islands in direct contravention of the relevant banking and anti-money laundering rules.”
The prime minister said continued operation of the web shops in the manner outlined leaves The Bahamas exposed to international scrutiny and sanctions for failure to implement anti-money laundering rules.
He added that this position is not acceptable and needs to be addressed without further delay – an issue Mr. Christie said has been ignored for too long.
The prime minister added that this is why his administration plans to put in place what he is calling grandfathering provisions that will ensure that operators run a well regulated business which provides appropriate player protection and complies with anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism laws.
“The grandfathering provisions will, however, provide no guarantee that a licence will be awarded,” he said.
“Rather, existing operators will have to prove that they have conducted their gaming operations with integrity and fairness towards consumers, and, moreover, that they have the financial capacity and organisational structure to meet the high regulatory standards that will be demanded of them.”
He said the licences for web shop operators would be conducted in a similar manner to the licenses issued by the Gaming Board for land based casinos, this would include the appointment of an independent board, rigorous investigation of operators and their employees and input from external regulatory consultants from outside of The Bahamas who will make a recommendation to the Gaming Board on the suitability of each applicant.
The taxation regime and level of charges for licenses for the web shops, the prime minister added would be a combination of a flat rate tax licence fees and a cash bond.
The referendum will now be held on January 28 next year.
The legal framework to make that happen will be debated next week.
16 November, 2012