Trinidad and Tobago now has its own gambling regulator. After the Caribbean territory approved updated gambling laws last year, lawmakers have now successfully introduced its new Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Control Commission.
A press release by the government on Tuesday reports that the first members of the regulatory body are in place. That’s after Finance Minister Colm Imbert officially brought them on board this past Monday.
Trinidad and Tobago has faced calls to introduce a gambling regulator for years. Lawmakers signed off on the Gambling Control Bill last year. They did so expecting to add as much as $2 billion (US$294 million) to the nation’s economic benefit.
In June of last year, lawmakers in Trinidad and Tobago approved the Gambling Control Bill of 2021. A total of 24 senators voted in favor of the bill, including the nine independent senators. The six opposition senators abstained.
It took more than four years for the gambling reform to be complete. Among the updates was the creation of the Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Control Commission (GCC), which now has its founding members.
Trinidad and Tobago Adds Gambling Regulator
Stephen Tang Nian will serve as chairman of the GCC, while Stevan Thomas is the deputy chairman. Each will serve a term of four years. Joining them are seven other members, two of whom will also serve four-year terms. Three of the members will serve three-year terms, and two will only be in place for two years.
In accordance with the Gambling Control Bill’s language, all members must either have experience in the gaming sector, have anti-money-laundering experience, be an attorney, or have worked for at least five years in fields related to finance, information technology, management, social work, or law enforcement.
The new GCC chairman was previously the Manager, Institutional Sales and Trading, at RBC Merchant Bank, and Assistant Vice President at RBTT Merchant Bank. He also sits on the board of the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago.
Thomas is currently the Managing Director and Senior Software Developer at Prodigy Software in Trinidad. With more than 20 years of experience in information technology, his knowledge will prove beneficial in establishing measures for the online space.
More Government Revenue
The approval of the gambling bill last year and the introduction of the new regulator will mean more revenue for Trinidad and Tobago. There are new regulations that operators need to meet, and the GCC will enforce them.
There are new fees linked to the different types of gambling activity. For example, operators must pay $120,000 (US$17,650) for every blackjack or roulette table. The cost for a slot machine is $24,000 (US$3,530).
Any violation of the licensing conditions, or a company operating without a license, leads to a fine of $5 million (US$735,448), as well as a $1.25 million (US$183,862) fee.
The additional funds will extensively help a country saddled in debt of around $8 billion (US$1.17 billion). It will also attract a different type of traveler. A well-regulated gaming market is always a target for most gamblers, and adding this to the backdrop of Trinidad and Tobago’s Caribbean vibe is a bonus.