Premier Fahie laid out the plan while presenting the Second Reading of the Gaming and Betting Control (Amendment) Act 2020, at the continuation of the 12th Sitting of the 3rd Session of the 4th House of Assembly (HoA) at Save the Seed Energy Centre on Thursday, September 23, 2021.
The act seeks to regulate gambling and other proposed online gaming activities.
The amendment to the original legislation, he said, will make some adjustments to accurately reflect what is intended as it relates to electronic gaming and its legality in the VI.
“The gaming industry in the Virgin Islands [once] properly regulated, presents a lot of opportunities for our people. It is a valuable opportunity to add to our offerings to tourist visitors and to significantly increase our earnings from tourism activities.”
Hon Fahie continued, “People are asking for economic opportunities, they [are] asking for jobs, they want to work and this is an opportunity to help them in that regard,” he said.
The Premier recalled that after decades of ‘talks’ about expanding the economy, his administration is taking a chance to do just that.
“This is an opportunity that contributes positively to the growth of the businesses in the Virgin Islands and to help also broadened economic base. It is an opportunity to add new economic streams so that we reduce our systemic risk from being too reliant on two economic drivers of tourism and financial services,” he said.
In his remarks on the amendments, the Premier said the people of the VI wants action now. “They deserve action! Do let us act in their interests," he underscored while advocating for the support of the bill from elected members of the House.
While the parent legislation, the Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Control Act, 2020, was the first to introduce legalised gaming and betting as a viable alternative revenue initiative and further seeks to outline a robust framework to regulate such activities, Premier Fahie said the amendment to the act will also be strong.
“Both the parent act and this proposed amendment present strong barriers to undesirable activities such as money laundering and terrorist financing. There's no need for alarm where these issues are concerned,” he said.
Hon Fahie further indicated that revenues will also likely come from the initiative to assist in the funding of necessary agencies to develop programmes that can counteract potential socio-economic ills, thereby reducing this sole financial responsibility of the central government in those matters.