Editors' Forum | Pay to play - BGLC to get tough on bar and club operators whose boxes are not licensed come January 1
The Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) is again warning operators of bars, shops, clubs and other businesses with gaming machines such as poker boxes, that they need to be registered to operate legally.
A drive is now on to educate persons on the need to license every gaming machine and the properties where they are housed.
Addressing a Gleaner Editors' Forum last Thursday, officials of the BGLC warned that at the start of the new year, persons who operate gaming machines, such as Joker Poker and Lucky Line boxes, that are not registered and in properties that are not licensed, will be prosecuted.
Maurice Thompson, director of licensing and registration at the BGLC, said the agency is now on a licensing blitz and amnesty, and operators of gaming machines are being encouraged to take full advantage.
"We have identified a number of unlicensed premises that house unlicensed machines. We have engaged these persons directly and we are acting as if we don't know these persons are operating illegally, so we spend time engaging them about the benefits of legitimising their business opportunities," Thompson told the forum.
At the end of March, the BGLC had identified 2,568 premises where gaming machines are located, with just over half of these premises licensed. The others have been operating illegally.
In addition, the BGLC's team has identified 9,355 gaming machines in the non-gaming lounges. Of these, only 53 per cent were licensed.
According to Thompson, the BGLC's amnesty is intended to encourage and facilitate the operators becoming licensed by December 31.
To become licensed, operators will have to pay a $5,500 licensing fee for each machine and $3,500 to license each premises for the rest of this fiscal year. The licences will be up for renewal come April 1, 2019.
A police record is one of the documents the individuals must present to the BGLC when they seek permission for licensing and registration.
Applicants must also complete 'Form A', which is an application to license gaming machines, and 'Form C', which is the application to license the premises. They will also need to complete a form to list the machines being licensed.
"All licensed machines have a disc on the front of it, like the licence for your motor car, so you won't miss a licensed machine and it is dated. If you see disc on the machine and it does not say 2018-2019, it means the licence has expired.
"And if there is no disc, it means the machine is not licensed," Thompson explained.