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Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, has said that while the introduction of casino gaming will not save the economy, it will help to boost earnings and bring more tourists to the island.
“What we have to accept is that casinos have become very much an institutionalised part of the tourism product worldwide and it has become a part of the formal system of attraction. If you don’t have the product, what you are doing is locking yourself out of a part of the market. Tourists, who would otherwise visit, are visiting other destinations because we don’t have casinos,” he stated.
Minister Shaw was contributing to the debate on the Betting Gaming and Lotteries (Amendments) Act in the House of Representatives yesterday (March 2), which was unanimously passed.
The bill seeks to improve the effectiveness of the Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) in regulating the industry and to ensure that betting, gaming and lotteries are conducted fairly and remain free from criminal elements.
It will also allow for the introduction of sports betting and the payment of a nine per cent gross profit tax on sports betting offered by licensees. The approval paves the way for the introduction of betting on overseas sports events.
Meanwhile debate on the Casino Gaming Bill, to set up a regulatory framework for casino gaming, including a Casino Gaming Commission, will continue at the next sitting of the House of Representatives.
Minister Shaw defended the need for a separate commission to oversee casino gaming. “Based on studies worldwide, the scale and nature of casino gaming, it is so vast and so complex that a separate body dedicated to the control, regulation and monitoring of the activities is considered to be necessary,” Mr. Shaw stated.