Changes to Gaming Law Will Increase Revenues for Government – BGLC Chairman

Photo: JIS Photographer Chairman of the Betting Gaming & Lotteries Commission, Gary Peart explains the importance of the amendments to the Betting Gaming and Lotteries Act at a JIS Think Tank on May 20.

Story Highlights

  • Proposed amendments to the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act is likely to result in increased revenues for the Government.
  • BGLC Chairman, Gary Peart explained that the gaming industry is a growth sector.
  • The Chairman pointed out that the Commission is now tasked with collecting an additional $1 billion in taxes this fiscal year.

Proposed amendments to the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act is likely to result in increased revenues for the Government, and economic growth for entrepreneurs in the industry, says Chairman of the Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) Gary Peart.

Noting that the amendments are now before Parliament, Mr. Peart who was addressing a recent JIS Think Tank explained that the gaming industry is a growth sector.

“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 informed.

The Chairman pointed out that the Commission is now tasked with collecting an additional $1 billion in taxes this fiscal year, and that the proposed changes to the betting gaming and lotteries act are the key source of generating those additional sums.

He said the BGLC expects that once the changes to the act are enacted, sports betting in Jamaica will expand from 20 to 40 shops, to over 400 shops across the island.

Further explaining the importance of the proposed changes to the legislation, Mr. Peart said the next phase of growth in the industry will come from enacting legislation to regulate Internet gaming. This activity he noted, is very popular in Jamaica now, although it is not legal.

“Anecdotally over $250 million in bets are originated from Jamaica right now” Mr. Peart informed.

Director of Legal Services at the BGLC, Amina Maknoon who also addressed the Think Tank said it is now important that the BGLC be in the position to regulate and monitor this industry, “so as to protect the consumers, protect minors, and address persons who have problem gaming habits as well as to address the money laundering risks that may exist in this industry.”

Mrs. 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.

Other amendments to the Betting Gaming and Lotteries Act will also strengthen the regulatory functions of the Commission, through the imposition of a fixed penalty system, which is similar to a road traffic ticket system.

“That is to enable the Commission to address either rogue operators or licencees that don’t fully comply with the terms and conditions of their licences,” Mrs. Maknoon explained.

In the meantime, Mr. Peart says he is hopeful that the amendments will be passed in time for World Cup 2014, which he says is the largest betting event in the world.

“It (the World Cup) is an incentive for our licencees to go out there and make additional revenue,” he added.

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