By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff
The proposed Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Virgin Control Act of 2020, which seeks to legalise gambling in the BVI and ‘provide for the regulation and control of gaming and betting and matters, has been drafted and published in the government’s official Gazette for public viewing.
The proposed billl, states that a special Gambling Control Commission will regulate the operation of gambling in the territory.
The gambling Board
The Act states that the Commission shall be managed by a Board appointed by the Minister of Finance, and this board will consist of a chairman and eight other members. One of the members will be appointed on the recommendation of the BVI Chamber of Commerce & Hotel Association and the BVI Tourist Board.
“Members of the [Gambling Commission’s] Board shall be appointed on such terms and conditions as the minister shall determine. Persons shall be qualified to be members of the Board by reason of their work and experience in the gambling industry or fields relating to law, finance, information technology, economics, management, social work or law enforcement,” the Act states.
Notably, the Chairman, a Deputy Chairman and two other members, will be appointed for a four-year term, while other members will be appointed for two and three-year terms.
Commission issues gambling licenses
The Commission would also be tasked to provide information to other regulatory and government agencies including the Inland Revenue Department, the Financial Investigation Agency, the Commissioner of Customs, and the Commissioner of Police.
It will be able to grant gaming licenses without prejudice, impose conditions in the granting of licenses, engage in consultations in accordance with prescribed regulations, conduct studies, prepare reports, and generally make recommendations relating to the gambling industry in the British Virgin Islands, the Act stated.
In addition, the Commission is responsible to verify the background, character and reputation of a person applying for a gaming license and that person’s relative or associate as the Commission deems necessary. The Commission will also be able to perform regular reviews of a licensed gaming operation and collect fees and levies.
Gambling license categories
Under this Act, there are several categories of licences that one can obtain.
They include a Gaming Operators Licence, which shall permit the licensee to operate a gaming establishment for the purpose of conducting gaming; and a Gaming Owners Licence, which shall authorise the licensee to own a gaming establishment. However, the Act states Game Owners licensees cannot operate such as establishment without first having obtained a Gaming Operators Licence.
There is also a Bookmakers Licence, which shall permit the licensee to conduct betting activities other than pool betting; a Promoters Licence which shall permit a licensee to stage live racing and conduct pool betting (pari-mutuel) activities; among other licence types.
Powers to suspend and revoke license
In the meantime, the Commission also has the power to suspend or revoke a licence if, after review, a license holder is not conforming to the law. However, before doing so, the Commission must give notice in writing detailing the reasons for the suspension and the grounds that it intends to do so.
A response from the license holder challenging the Commission must be submitted within seven days of receiving the notice.
“Where a decision is taken to revoke the licence, notice of revocation shall be sent to the address of the licensee and published in the Gazette,” the Act said.
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