Parliament has given approval to a bill aimed at improving the regulation of gaming activities in the country.
The Gaming Bill (2016), which categorises gaming into three types, involving gaming machines, betting, and lottery was passed in the Upper House of Parliament last week Friday at the Trade Centre, Morne Rouge Grand Anse, St. George.
In piloting the Bill, Minister of Culture, Senator Brenda Hood said the legislation seeks to provide for the establishment of a Gaming Commission, and that persons can apply to the body for a gaming licence.
According to Senator Hood, “no person shall provide facilities for gaming without first registering the activity with the Commission and obtaining a licence granted by the Minister”.
She said the bill makes provision for “a gaming tax of 30% or EC$250 in respect of each gaming machine”, and will be applied to every person who holds a gaming machine operating licence.
“So they have an option, you either pay the 30% or you pay per machine”, she told the Upper House, adding that “all of this was discussed when we had consultations”.
Sen. Hood warned that failure to obtain a licence to engage in gaming is an offence and the maximum penalty is a fine of $100, 000.00 or imprisonment for 12-months.
The bill also prohibits the involvement of persons under the age of 18 in gaming activities.
“What we are trying to do is to protect the social fabric”, she remarked.
During the meeting of the Senate, an amendment was also made to the National Lotteries Authority Act to avoid conflict with the new Gaming Act.
According to Sen. Hood, who is also the Minister with responsibility for the National Lotteries Authority (NLA), the Authority will maintain its current monopoly on general types of lotteries on the island.
“We are aware of the contributions that the NLA are making to the development of this country whether it’s in sports, health or nation building, every year millions of dollars go back into the communities to assist persons and this is why the NLA is given the monopoly”, she said.