JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) is working closely with gaming lounge operators to ensure that their establishments are in compliance with the requirements under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).
  • The legislation aims to strengthen the framework for combating money laundering and financing of terrorism in Jamaica.
  • They are expected to put the required measures in place to be in full conformity with the law by mid-2016.

The Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) is working closely with gaming lounge operators to ensure that their establishments are in compliance with the requirements under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

The legislation aims to strengthen the framework for combating money laundering and financing of terrorism in Jamaica.

As a designated non-financial institution (DNFI) under POCA, gaming operators have a responsibility to not allow their businesses to be used by criminal elements to launder the proceeds of crime.

They are expected to put the required measures in place to be in full conformity with the law by mid-2016.

Director of Compliance and Regulatory Division at the BGLC, Laurie Wiggan, in an interview with JIS News, informed that the Commission has been providing training and advisory services to licensees, in order to assist them to meet the deadline.

She said the POCA compliance manual is also being distributed to all gaming lounges.

Ms. Wiggan noted that the process to achieve full compliance requires significant investment and resources. She noted that already, many operators have put measures in place to meet these requirements.

“Money laundering cannot be manually monitored and so we are working closely with our licensees to get their operations in order. Gambling lounge operators are required to monitor persons, who bet over a particular threshold,” she explained.

Ms. Wiggan told JIS News that it will be the responsibility of the lounge operator to thoroughly investigate the individual seeking to do business with the establishment, and the source of funding.

She noted that if an operator is concerned that a particular transaction looks suspicious, then he/she is required to make a report to the Financial Investigations Division (FID) within the Ministry of Finance and Planning.

“All of which requires training and sensitisation sessions as not everyone is familiar with what is required of operators the industry,” she said.

The issue of POCA compliance was addressed at the 2nd Annual BGLC Gaming Industry Summit held on June 18 in Kingston.

Director of Legal Services at BGLC, Karla Small-Dyer, noted that internationally the gaming industry has been put at higher risk for money laundering and terrorism financing.

“It is not a Jamaica thing; everyone has to make this transition. Internationally, (in the gaming industry) we are required to assess the persons we are doing business with and try to prevent illegality from entering the gaming industry. This only makes it more attractive when persons know that the industry is free from those activities, which forms part of the POCA requirements,” she explained.

Manager of Communications and Research at the BGLC, Jana Bent, said professionals in other sectors that have been designated as non-financial institutions, including members of real estate boards and chartered accountants, are also now required to adhere to the requirements of POCA.

As the competent authority under POCA, the BGLC has a duty to supervise gaming lounges to ensure that adequate measures are in place to prevent these establishments from being used for money laundering and terrorism financing.

BGLC is also required to equip gaming lounge operators to detect money laundering activities.