- The local gaming sector continues to be one of the highest grossing industries in the economy, recording tremendous growth in several areas.
- The industry has recorded significant increase in government taxes and revenue, from $3.8 billion for the 2012/13 fiscal year to $4.5 billion in 2013/14.
- While revenue from the sector is significant, there is still scope for growth and expansion, which would undoubtedly contribute to a stronger economy and the creation of more jobs.
The local gaming sector continues to be one of the highest grossing industries in the economy, recording tremendous growth in several areas.
Data provided by the Ministry of Finance and Planning for the last three financial years, dating back to 2011, show the industry recording significant increase in government taxes and revenue, from $3.8 billion for the 2012/13 fiscal year to $4.5 billion in 2013/14.
The Government earned $2.9 billion from the thriving industry for the period 2011/12.
Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Hon. Horace Dalley, said the Government is pleased with the performance of the sector, noting that “this is not the kind of revenue intake in the economy that any administration can ignore.”
He was speaking at the opening of the 2014 Gaming Industry Summit, held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, on May 29.
Mr. Dalley pointed out that while revenue from the sector is significant, there is still scope for growth and expansion, which would undoubtedly contribute to a stronger economy and the creation of more jobs.
He informed that the introduction of telephone betting and text betting are among plans to expand the sports betting aspect of the sector. These, he said, will be introduced in time for next month’s football World Cup.
“Stakeholders can expect to benefit from the increased sports betting outlets facilitating World Cup fever and all future eligible sporting events,” he said.
The expansion of sports betting in Jamaica is being made possible as a result of recent amendments to the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act.
Mr. Dalley said the amendments will also provide the Government with greater leverage to curb illegal gaming, while also giving increased powers to the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act.
He emphasised that the Government cannot and will not renege on its responsibility to ensure that those who wish to operate a lottery company, must pass the rigorous test of being fit and proper.
“The Government cannot sit idly by and allow the multi-billion dollar leakage through the illegal sales of lottery tickets, sports bets, and Internet gaming to continue. Thus, these critical amendments will serve to legitimise and protect investors,” he said.
It is estimated that the illegal lottery industry is worth some $10 billion, while unregulated Internet gaming generates more than $250 million in bets annually.
Legal Internet gaming is a multi-million dollar industry worldwide, with studies showing that Internet placed bets will reach $100 billion in 2017.
Mr. Dalley said the Government is making every “painstaking” effort to curtail illegal gaming, with action to regulate and bring order to Internet gaming in Jamaica over the next year.
“Internet gaming is happening right now in Jamaica. Therefore, it is time that we make that progression to this methodology of gaming, as Jamaicans are already well equipped with the devices to facilitate this,” he stated.
He noted that adequate protection for minors and other vulnerable groups will have to be in place, pointing out that the Government has no intention to compromise their safety.