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Mergers coming for gaming industry- Shaw

Published:Wednesday | June 14, 2017 | 2:46 PMMark Titus

Western Bureau:

The Government is to merge the oversight bodies of the local gaming industry into one oversight body as part of its effort to streamline the regulatory functions of the sector and improve the monitoring framework capabilities.

This revelation was made by Finance and Planning Minister Audley Shaw, while giving the keynote address at the 7th Caribbean Gaming Show and Summit at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on Wednesday.

"This is part of a bold strategy that Government has undertaken. We have about 200 oversight bodies outside of central government. The last time I checked, Singapore, one of the fastest-growing economies globally, they had only 60," said Shaw. "... so we have taken a critical look at that and we have identified 84 of those companies that will either be closed, merged, divested to the private sector or subsumed into central government, and no better area than the actual gaming industry."

According to Shaw, in his ministry alone, there are four such bodies, which are all costing significant sums, which he says clearly strengthens the argument for the streamlining of regulatory functions.

"In my own ministry, four agencies existed, the Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) for horse racing; the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC); the Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC), and the Casino Gaming Commission (CGC) - that cost us $60 million last year, and we have not got any casino licence yet," said Shaw.

"So we have made the decision and we have started by divesting CTL to Supreme Ventures, so Government is no longer subsidising Caymanas to the tune of between $300 million and $400 million each year," continued Shaw. "The other three are regulatory, so we are merging all of them into one Jamaica Gaming Commission, so four becomes one."

... Divestment of Caymanas Track Ltd paying dividends

Finance Minister Audley Shaw said that the divestment deal of Caymanas Track Limited to Supreme Ventures is already showing great potential, with a 30 per cent increase in revenue flowing to the commission since the takeover.

Shaw also noted that the new injection of funds would create the platform for a revolving loan fund to support aspiring entrants who cannot find the capital needed to start, and the establishment of a stud farm development fund to bolster the stock of the breeding industry.

"The Government will also be willing to provide waivers to facilitate the importation of more horses to improve the stock of the industry," noted Shaw.

The two-day 7th Caribbean Gaming Show and Summit was attended by representatives from more than 20 countries from across the region. It has attracted support from international sponsors such as Aristocrat, Spin Inc, Golden Race, and Signature Gaming.