Finance Minister Colm Imbert moves the motion for the second reading of the Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Control Bill, 2021, in the Senate on Friday. Debate on the bill continues today.

If bars want more than 20 amusement machines or roulette and blackjack tables, they’ll be turning into casinos and will have to apply for a license to become a gambling establishment.

Indicating this during yesterday’s House of Representatives debate on the bill to regulate the gaming sector Finance Minister Colm Imbert said right now bars have up to 20 amusement machines with small payout, “And they’re not supposed to operate as gambling machines. But quite often they are,” he said.

If bars wanted many machines and were becoming casinos, he said it was absurd for them to say their sector shouldn’t be regulated.

He dismissed an Opposition senator’s view that bars operating like casinos shouldn’t be regulated since Government would lose $200 million in revenues.

Imbert said, “If we get $2 million out of them currently we get plenty so the idea of getting $200 million is an absurdity.”

Clauses in the bill include for all gaming/gambling devices in an establishment to be listed in a public register. Imbert said this was because people moved machines when inspectors came to inspect their places.

Upholding clauses requiring key employees to be licensed Imbert noted local casinos with Eastern Europe and Far East roots have a lot of irregularities including being leakers of foreign exchange as the owners are overseas. He said he was told profits go overseas and US dollars are obtained illegally for export,

“We’re satisfied this bill will regulate the sector,” Imbert said noting if Government got $50 million from the $16 billion sector that was plenty and should instead be getting $500 million.

Opposition MP Rudy Indarsingh said regulating gaming machines in bars would severely impact bar employees and called for clarification on that aspect.

“If I had to gamble on the effect on the economy, my Pick Two would be the Prime Minister and Finance Minister,” he said.

The House of Representatives passed the Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Control Bill, 2021 with a 21-vote simple majority.