Jamaica Thinking About Licensing Online Gambling
Monday May 26,2014 : JAMAICA MULLS THE LICENSING AND REGULATION OF INTERNET GAMBLING
Legalisation could create tax revenues and help economic growth, say proposers.
If lawmakers in Jamaica approve amendments to the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act, the government will benefit from tax revenues, and the new industry would encourage more economic growth, say proposers of a measure seeking to licence and regulate online gambling.
Among those supporting the proposals is the chairman of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC), Gary Peart, who told the Jamaica Observer that the genre is a growth sector.
The amendment bill is currently before parliament.
Peart and his staff have studied online gambling possibilities and report:
"We have seen compounded growth rates over the last two to four years ranging from 15 to 30 per cent… and with the roll-out of sports, mobile, telephone and text betting the industry is expected to see another 10 to 20 per cent increase," he said, adding that regulating the genre would help raise the $1 billion in additional taxes which the government needs this fiscal year.
Peart said that online gambling was very popular in Jamaica. "Anecdotally, over 250 million in bets are originated from Jamaica right now," he said.
He was supported by director of legal services at the BGLC, Amina Maknoon, who said it is now important that the BGLC be in the position to regulate and monitor intrnet gambling in order to protect consumers, minors, and individuals with problem gaming habits, as well as to address the money-laundering restrictions required by government.
Maknoon said as such, Internet gaming will be a major topic at the commission's upcoming inaugural gaming summit, scheduled for the Jamaica Conference Centre on Thursday, May 29.
Changes to land gambling regulations are also envisaged. The BGLC chairman said the Commission expects the amendments to result in sports betting in Jamaica expanding from 20 to 40 shops, to over 400 shops across the island.
Peart is hoping for parliament’s early approval of the amendments, saying that next month’s World Cup football festival in Brazil will provide great opportunity for expanded facilities.