A leading figure in the St Maarten government has urged companies and individuals involved in the gambling sector in the Caribbean to tackle illegal practices.
Economic Affairs Minister Stuart Johnson was speaking at the Dutch Caribbean Anti-Money Laundering and Gaming Regulation Forum which was held at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort Casino in St. Maarten last week.
The Forum, which is in its fourth year, is designed to offer an environment in which organisations and individuals associated with the gambling and financial sectors, including banks, regulatory bodies, treasury and law enforcement officials and gambling operators can discuss important issues.
And in his opening address, Johnson made it clear that proper gambling practices are vital, not just in ensuring that money spent on the islands of the region is not diverted into illegal activities, but that the reputation of the islands as a legitimate place to do business is maintained:
“This is a significant concern for the government of St. Maarten, especially considering that investment in primarily tourism-driven destinations such as ours is critical for our future economic sustainability.”
Johnson highlighted the specific case of businesses in St Maarten that were selling United States Lottery Powerball games despite the fact that these games have restrictions on who can play them which would make it nearly impossible for anyone buying a ticket in St Maarten to claim their prize if they won, and he emphasised that educating players was also important.
He went on to urge all stakeholders in the island and the region of effective gaming regulations and anti-money laundering policies, to protect the reputation of the local economy, which is vital to enable businesses to operate in a global marketplace.
Saint Marten currently has twelve licensed casinos based in three locations: Cole Bay, Philipsburg and Point Blanche, and also offers bingo and sportsbook betting.