Memo raises casino concerns
Philip Hamilton, Gleaner Writer
A recommendation by the Dennis Lalor committee, calling for the establishment of a casino regulatory authority separate from the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC), is being questioned by the parliamentary committee reviewing amendments to the Casino Gaming Act.
Parliamentary committee member, Dr Wykeham McNeill, said the team appointed to recommend a regu-latory framework governing the operations of casinos recently issued a memo outlining its reasons for a separate casino regulatory body.
That regulatory authority would be the proposed Casino Gaming Commission.
McNeill said the memo referred to a letter to Lalor, written by chartered accountants Wilson Dixon, in which the company said it was aware of several concerns regarding the integrity of licensee and their overall regulation by the BGLC.
"Consequently, there is a repu-tational risk, whether real or perceived, associated with having the BGLC encompass casino gaming," said McNeill, who described the allegations in the letter as serious.
However, BGLC Executive Director Derek Peart told the committee he was unaware of the letter referred to by McNeill, as there had been no interfacing between the chartered accountants and the commission.
Peart, who described the letter as inaccurate, said it could lead to decisions which were not factually based.
He said he suspected some of the issues raised by the chartered accountants might have occurred when only horse racing was being regulated.
According to Peart, the com-mission's entire records and books in respect of its activities over the past eight years were available for scrutiny.
McNeill said a dual-regulatory committee overseeing the gaming industry would only place an additional burden on taxpayers.
He suggested that attention should be given to establishing a single commission staffed with the best technical team to deal with the requirements of the various sectors throughout the industry.
Committee Chairman Daryl Vaz, as well as committee members Phillip Paulwell and Dr St Aubyn Bartlett, endorsed McNeill's call for a single, exclusive commission to oversee the industry.
Vaz also noted that the accusations levelled against the BGLC were without merit, as the commission had demonstrated significant progress in terms of its technological support and supervisory role in the gaming industry.