Commission Coming to Regulate Casinos


A Casino Gaming Commission is to be established under the Casino Gaming Bill, which has been tabled in the House of Representatives by Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw.
The Bill states that the Commission will have regulatory functions over the conduct of casino gaming, including the power to grant gaming licences to persons to conduct casino gaming within an approved integrated resort development.
The Commission will also be able to grant personal licences to specific individuals identified as occupying management positions or carrying out operational functions in a casino, which warrant obtaining assurance that they meet certain criteria of fitness and propriety of character.
“The Commission will also be empowered to ensure that casino gaming is conducted fairly, legally and in a manner which protects children and vulnerable persons,” the Bill’s Memorandum of Objects and Reasons disclosed.
To facilitate the Commission’s functions, Mr. Shaw has also tabled a Bill amending the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act, under which the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission, a statutory body established in 1975, currently regulates and controls the operations of betting and gaming and the conduct of lotteries in Jamaica.
The Bill confirms the Government’s intention to implement legislation to provide a regulatory framework for the business of casino gaming.
“This Bill, therefore, seeks to implement this policy decision which proposed casino gaming, within the context of luxury integrated resort developments of which casino gaming will be but one component,” the Bill states.
“The integrated resort development concept will provide a mix of various tourism facilities including, but not limited to, hotels, villas, attractions, sporting facilities, service centres and shopping centres,” the Bill also adds.
It is proposed that the casino gaming component should be no more than 20 percent of the total investment, in any approved integrated resort development.
The Bill provides for penalties ranging from $50,000, for failing to deliver a licence that has lapsed or ceases to be effective, to $50 million for removing seals or devices of like nature, from the gaming machines.
Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding, told a Town Hall Meeting with residents of Western Jamaica, in Montego Bay St. James on July 25, that the tabling of the Bill had been delayed to ensure that “every sentence was right: Every ‘t’ was crossed and every ‘i’ dotted.”
Mr. Golding warned possible investors that the licences would not “come cheap in Jamaica.”
“Before you can get a licence, you have to give us a bankable guaranteed commitment that you are going to build new hotels, with not less than 2,000 rooms and an investment of not less than US$1.5 billion,” he said.
“We want hotel rooms, we want employment, we want to be sure that when you get a licence you are going to use that licence to bring in thousands more visitors to Jamaica. That is how we are going to continue growing the tourism sector,” he added.
He said that the Government was not prepared to wait on the (economic) storm to pass before starting to “clean up the place and get busy to work.”
He also noted that the Government was hoping to have the Bill debated in July and passed into law, as there were at least two investments awaiting the legislative framework. The Government has already given an undertaking to two companies that it is prepared to consider, formally, their applications for casino licences – one for Montego Bay and one for Trelawny.

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