By NATARIO McKENZIE
COMMERCIAL banks should no longer refuse to accept web gaming deposits once the industry is licensed and adheres to standard ‘Know Your Customer’ (KYC) procedures, the FNM’s deputy leader believes.
Suggesting that the banking industry should not discriminate between casino and web shop deposits once that position is reached, K P Turnquest said: “I think the question that has to be asked is on what basis are the commercial banks taking the position that they have.
“If it is a global position then I don’t see what the conflict is. If they are in fact taking money from other sports betting or lottery-type industries, either here in the Bahamas or elsewhere, then once has to ask the question why would they not take this money.”
This argument lies at the heart of web shop gaming industry grievances. Operators are why the banks accept monies from local casinos and gaming operations in their home jurisdictions, but not Bahamian-owned gaming houses.
Bank of the Bahamas is the only Bahamian institution to publicly declare to-date that it will accept deposits from a legalized web shop gaming sector, having been given clearance by its US correspondent bank.
Wayne Munroe QC, while addressing a Bahamas Association of Compliance Officers (BACO gaming seminar last week, said gaming house operators may seek to sue the other commercial banks for discrimination for their refusal to accept web shop deposits.
“No private web shop has been licensed to be business in the Bahamas. Until they have a license to operate that business then the question cannot arise,” said Mr Turnquest.
“The commercial banks have a duty, a responsibility under the financial regime in place with respect to KYC, to ensure that any money that enters into the financial system is in fact from clean sources. To the extent that there are unregulated relationships with these web shops or other businesses, then they do have a reasonable right, in my view, to question the source.
“At the end of the day there has to be a balance between the requirement of these financial institutions to ensure that they personally do not facilitate the banking of any proceeds of crime or any proceeds of illegal activity to enter the banking system.”
Mr Turnquest added that once web shop gaming houses are licensed, they should receive the same treatment as hotel casino gaming operations. “Once these guys get a license, then in my view they ought to be treated as any other online or brick and mortar operation,” he said.
“As soon as the licenses are issued and they become completely subject to the regime as outlined in the legislation, and come under the subjection and supervision of the Gaming Board, then they ought to be treated like anyone and there ought to be no discrimination.”