Jamaica’s Finance Minister, Audley Shaw, announced at last month’s 7th Caribbean Gaming Show and Summit, that Jamaica was accelerating plans to regulate online gambling. This is in response to a need to keep pace with technological advances - as well as to help facilitate growth of the local gambling industry.
The Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) is in the process of drafting legislation aimed at establishing a licensing regime as well as regulatory supervision for operators of interactive gambling.
Shaw stressed that an appropriate regulatory regime would ensure that the Jamaican Government could properly regulate the growing industry and implement measures to prevent money laundering and the financing of criminal and illicit activities.
He said: ‘Even as we keep pace with developments, we are also mindful of the vulnerability of the industry to be used by criminals for money laundering. This concern is what gave rise to the de-risking initiatives of large banks that have spurred smaller firms to improve their own supervisory protocols.’
At the same time the Finance Minister announced that the islands three state gaming bodies – the BGLC and the racing and casino regulators – would be amalgamated into a new body called the Jamaica Gaming Commission (JGC).
The merger is expected to take place by the end of 2017 with the online gambling regulations - covering poker, casino games such as roulette and blackjack, sports betting, bingo and lotteries - preceding the merger.
Until the merger, the BGLC will oversee online activity.
Newly appointed BGLC Executive Director Vitus Evans, said there are no operators so far licensed to offer interactive gambling in Jamaica.
‘However, being responsive to the interest that has been shown to offer this type of product, initiatives are being made to introduce the legislation for the licensing regime for interactive gaming.’
As to potential entrants into the market, the BGLC refused to ‘disclose any information related to licensees' operations or business plans.’