JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Effective April 1, the Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) will begin issuing signs to operators of gaming lounges, which specify the age limit of gaming participants.
  • The move comes as the BGLC intensifies its campaign, aimed at preventing minors from engaging in gaming activities.
  • Speaking at a town hall meeting in Montego Bay recently, Director of Licensing and Registration, BGLC, Maurice Thompson, said all licenced premises will be required to post the signs at strategic areas.

Effective April 1, the Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) will begin issuing signs to operators of gaming lounges, which specify the age limit of gaming participants.

The move comes as the BGLC intensifies its campaign, aimed at preventing minors from engaging in gaming activities.

Speaking at a town hall meeting in Montego Bay recently, Director of Licensing and Registration, BGLC, Maurice Thompson, said all licenced premises will be required to post the signs at strategic areas.

He said a full listing of all premises would be given to the police for further enforcement. A dealer’s licence can be revoked if he or she is found selling bets to minors.

“Presently the Commission has over 2,000 premises licenced and effective April 1, this sign, which specifies the age limit of (gaming) participants, will be issued to all operators. We want to protect all minors and the vulnerable from any betting, gaming or lottery activity,” Mr. Thompson pointed out.

Director of Gambling Disorders, Treatment and Prevention Programmes at RISE Life Management Services, Richard Henry, encouraged parents, teachers, and other responsible adults in the society to join the effort to keep minors out of gaming lounges.

He said the BGLC has collaborated with RISE Life to develop a Code of Conduct for gaming lounges, which represents a commitment to customers and the public to prevent monitors from being exposed to gaming operations.

He noted, however, that responsible gaming cannot work if parents, citizens, teachers, and other leaders are not on board.

Mr. Henry said gambling is seen as gateway behaviour, leading to other problems such as alcohol and drug abuse, delinquency, and home and school problems.

“International data tells us that the rates of gambling-related disorders range between one and 10 per cent … science has informed us that for every addicted person, there are between eight and 12 family members, who are affected by that addiction … and some of the persons within the family that are affected, are children,” he said.

He informed at over the last 10 years, the BGLC has been working with RISE Life to educate Jamaicans about responsible gaming. He said the entity recognises that as advances are made in the gaming industry and more opportunities are created for persons to game and gamble, there is the likelihood of persons developing gambling-related problems.

“The BGLC has taken a proactive approach and, in keeping with international best practices,… we have established both prevention and treatment programmes for adults and adolescents alike,” Mr. Henry said.

Noting that young people “live in a most intense environment of legalised gaming,” he said it is “crucially necessary that they be furnished with more skills and knowledge in order to negotiate and understand that underage gambling comes with consequences.”

Mr. Henry said RISE Life carries out gambling prevention programmes in primary schools, starting at Grade Four. “We give them the information and tell them why they should not be involved in gambling until they are old enough to make a choice for themselves,” he pointed out.

“We also make presentations and give talks to youth and community groups with regard to responsible gaming and gambling-related disorders, as we are aware that those who begin gambling before the age of 19 years are more likely to become adults with gaming problems or disorders,” he said.