NASSAU, BAHAMAS — While a recently released US government report has called for greater focus on online gaming to combat financial crime, Gaming Board Chairman Dr Danny Johnson said today that local operators are compliant with and follow all of the anti-money laundering (AML) international best practices.
As an international financial center, the country is vulnerable to money laundering in financial services, real estate, online gaming/casinos and money transmissions.
The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) identified online gaming/casinos and money transmission service providers as “vulnerabilities” with regards to countering money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
The report noted: “As an international financial center, the country is vulnerable to money laundering in financial services, real estate, online gaming/casinos and money transmissions.”
It added: “Greater focus on small money transfers and online gaming sector vulnerabilities is needed.”
Johnson said: “We don’t have anything to say in terms of the report.
“The report does not apply to us. We have passed all of the prerequisites.
“No comment and no application on our behalf.
“There are no red flags for us. We have passed every level of inspection.”
Johnson noted that the Central Bank has previously indicated that web shops pose no money laundering threat to the domestic banking system and economy.
The Gaming Board, in an assessment released in February 2019, said its one-month study had “debunked the myth” that web shops are vulnerable to financial crime and pose a significant risk to The Bahamas’ integrity. That report was backed by the Central Bank.
A gaming insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity today, took issue with the report’s “reckless” claims over the volume of gaming sales.
The US report noted online gaming had generated “$3.2 billion in sales and $136 million in gross revenues in a country with a population of less than 400,000”.
“The gaming industry has never seen $3.2 billion. That amount hasn’t passed through the industry in total and these type of reckless statements can be really damaging,” the insider said.
“For example, playing slots, a patron can deposit $100 and wager up to $5,000 with that deposit. When their account hits zero dollars, then they would have only lost $100.
“You can’t reference wagering on slots and call that sales. That is artificially inflating the numbers.”