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  1. #1
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    Default Bermuda considering online gambling industry

    Bermuda is considering becoming the Carribean's next stop for online gambling companies.

    The Island is currently assessing its suitability as a centre of Internet gaming, following a path taken by rival jurisdictions including Antigua and Barbuda and Costa Rica.

    It would mean gamblers abroad, most likely from the US, having their wagers processed in Bermuda giving the betting companies tax breaks on profits and keeping them out of reach of anti-Internet gambling American authorities.

    Several years ago, Antigua turned to Internet gambling a $12 billion global business as a way to end its reliance on tourism, a problem Premier Ewart Brown is equally keen to solve in Bermuda.

    In 2000, Antigua's online gaming industry generated $37.5 million in taxes, provided 3,000 jobs and was said to be giving people a route to affluence other than drugs trafficking. However, about five years ago the US introduced laws blocking its residents from using online casinos, claiming it needed to protect children and prevent financial crimes such as money laundering.

    Antigua hit back by becoming the smallest country ever to successfully bring a case with the World Trade Organisation, arguing such a move was illegal and unfair as American operators were allowed to offer remote betting on horse- and dog-racing.

    Since then there has been much tweaking of the US online gambling laws, with commentators saying the authorities have been trying to clamp down on it, while Antigua has been pushing for compensation from the US.

    Some claim it is very difficult to enforce US law in jurisdictions which do not respect US statutes and that banning online gaming would drive it into the wrong hands.

    Meanwhile, figures from two years ago show more than 200 Internet-gambling companies have set up shop in Costa Rica, earning it the tag: 'the Internet's Las Vegas'.

    Poker is among the most popular Internet games for many players in Bermuda as well while gamblers can also have an online flutter with blackjack, craps and roulette among others.

    Internet gaming is one of a series of possibilities, including casinos and a national lottery, being looked at in the $300,000 feasibility study by the Innovation Group.

    The Premier, through his press secretary Glenn Jones, has refused to give any information about what we could expect to see in Bermuda, or to confirm exactly what he had in mind when he announced Innovation would determine Bermuda's suitability as a centre of Internet gaming.

    Dr. Brown's predecessor as Tourism Minister, Renee Webb, backed the study, telling The Royal Gazette: "I was publicly in support of legalising gambling. Firstly, because it already exists through bingo, horse-racing, football pools and Crown and Anchor.

    "So you are not legalising gambling but extending what already exists Islandwide. I supported a national lottery where the benefits go to education, the arts and other national causes similar to the British lottery.

    "With respect to casinos, I supported them in principle as sophisticated entertainment centres containing restaurants, shows, and gambling tables.

    "These forms of gambling endeavour exist worldwide in places that once outlawed gambling, such as Sri Lanka, Egypt, and Caribbean islands. In these cases it is not widespread but restricted to certain areas like hotels."
    Full story here ... http://www.royalgazette.com/siftolog...2&sectionId=60

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    Default

    This is sounding less likely ... of course so much is up in the air depending on the emphasis the new administration puts on Internet gambling.

    Shadow Finance Minister Bob Richards has warned embracing Internet gambling would be like "waving a red flag to a bull" to anti-gaming authorities in the United States.

    Consultants hired by Government and hotels are currently assessing Bermuda's credentials as a potentially money-spinning centre of online gaming, which could mean people in the US having their wagers processed on the Island.

    However, Mr. Richards said this would risk angering American officials who have tried to stamp out Internet gambling and have already clashed with Antigua and Barbuda over its position as an online gambling centre.

    And he believes any perceived link between Internet gambling and money laundering could also jeopardise Bermuda's reputation as a clean host for international business.

    "We don't want to go down the same road Antigua went down," Mr. Richards told The Royal Gazette.

    "The risk is it would be like waving a red flag in the face of a bull, and the US is not the kind of bull you want to be charging at you."

    He said online gambling could make money laundering more difficult to stop as cash is transferred online from one account to another.

    "We are trying our very best to keep our reputation pristine as far as money laundering is concerned," he said.

    "We are quite frankly inconveniencing people a great deal with this anti-money laundering stuff. The purpose is to keep Bermuda's reputation clean.

    "We have an international business sector here that Bermuda is dependent on. Doing something like this could put this in jeopardy just by putting this in the wrong place at the wrong time."
    Full story from The Royal Gazette here ... http://www.royalgazette.com/siftolog...0&sectionId=60

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