By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
MONTHS after licenses were issued to eight web shop operators officially sanctioning their gaming activities in this country, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe said yesterday that regulators are looking at ways to limit the proliferation of gaming houses in the country.
“It’s taking awhile because we’re going through the map of the islands, ensuring the number of houses that will be allowed per licensing,” he said.
“We’re also looking at the zones, making sure that’s correct because you know we don’t have the technological capacity in this regard but we’re looking at how to do zoning so we don’t cause the proliferation of gaming.”
Mr Wilchcombe has said number houses located outside the allowed zones will have to be shut down.
The zones, which are expected to be rigid, would help ensure web shops are not located near residential areas, school zones and churches.
The issue, he said, was among those the government promised to tackle when it regulated the sector.
Mr Wilchcombe also commented on the efforts toward forging a partnership between web shops and banks.
Canadian-owned banks have refused to accept deposits from the web shop sector over money laundering and terrorism funding concerns, prompting FML Group of Companies GEO Craig Flowers to say last year that stakeholders in the industry would consider challenging the decision in court.
Former State Minister for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez previously told The Tribune that pursuing legal action would have been an excellent thing for the industry to do.
It’s unclear if this is still being considered by the industry, but when asked about it yesterday Mr Wilchcombe said: “It’s an ongoing situation that we’re still working on. I have to speak to the attorney general about it. I know there’s been some progress because one of the banks is serving now. But unless you get your gaming at the level where it’s acceptable, where the regulations are accepted around the world and are seen as helping in the ongoing campaign to against anything related to terrorism funding and money laundering, unless that is clearly seen then you are going to have questions raised. Progress is ongoing and the work is never done.”
When The Tribune spoke to her about the matter yesterday, Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson suggested that the matter is not much of a concern for the web shop industry anymore.