Chairman of the Jamaica Gaming Association and President and CEO of Supreme Ventures, Brian George, has called for all stakeholders in Jamaica's gaming industry to take action in order to prevent international financial institutions from de-banking local companies.
“My gaming colleagues may not want to hear this, but we cannot afford to stick our heads in the sand. While gaming companies are responsible for ensuring that their businesses are not used to launder the proceeds of their crimes, the BGLC has the ultimate responsibility to enforce regulations and weed out non-compliant players. This is critical for the industry's survival,” George said.
He was speaking at the recent Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission's (BGLC) Annual Gaming Industry Summit held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.
The Chairman, representing the association comprised of seven of the largest gaming lounge operators in the country, said international institutions have already begun to curtail their involvement with the industry and will cease to do business with the sector if international transparency standards are not met.
“If the banks outside the Caribbean do not see us operating in an open and transparent manner, in a manner that gives them the confidence that we have done all we can to ensure that our industry is not benefiting from money laundering, we will be de-banked. Without a bank we do not have a business,” George said.
He said more dialogue will have to take place between industry players and the BGLC to ensure that both parties understand the current realities faced by the industry – as well as the mandates the regulatory body must fulfil in order to maintain high standards of integrity and transparency.
George noted that it has become increasingly difficult for criminals to use gaming lounges to launder their ill-gotten gains since the enforcement of strict reporting rules six years ago. Gamers are now required to show ID and references before being allowed to play.
George outlined guidelines for the industry to move forward. “This goes beyond knowing your customer. You have to know your customer's customer. If you don't understand where the person walking into your establishment got his money from and how that money may be filtering into our industry, we will always be in conflict with the international compliance bodies,” he said.
He noted that compliance within the industry will then facilitate the strengthening of the government in its bid to create an environment conducive to the industry's growth.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, the Hon. Audley Shaw, who also made an address at the summit, said the government will take steps to prevent the industry from being railroaded, providing that local operators comply with anti-money laundering regulations.