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Antigua Tightens Regulatory Mechanism

By: Joan Peppin, Tuesday April 21st 2009
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Antigua and Barbuda created the world’s first online gambling jurisdiction in 1994. Since then it has been one of the leading online gambling jurisdictions. It not only imposes a rigorous inspection procedure before issuing licenses but also enforces a strict monitoring regime on its licensees. Now the regulatory compliance monitoring will become more stringent as per an announcement from the Directorate of Offshore Gaming.

The Directorate operates under the Financial Services Regulatory Commission and therefore its licensees are made to follow the same compliance requirements that are applicable to financial institutions. These include strict anti money laundering measures, counters to suspected terrorist funding moves, "Know Your Client" protocols and verification of compliance through external audits.

Now the Financial Services Regulatory Commission is implementing a new monitoring program that will ensure stricter compliance through more efficient information tracking. The commission will use computer assisted auditing techniques (CAATs) to actively monitor the complex businesses of licensees and to ascertain if compliance requirements are being met. Since the gambling jurisdiction of Antigua and Barbuda is now on the United Kingdom "white list", the compliance requirements include the criteria imposed by the U.K. Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Antigua’s confirmation that these requirements are being met by the licensees will allow the licensees to advertise in the United Kingdom.

In fact it is widely believed that the stricter regulatory mechanism is being imposed at the behest of the U.K. gaming officials, who began to have second thoughts on the inclusion of Antigua in the white list after the Stanford bank scandal. Earlier this year the US Department of Justice uncovered an alleged multi-billion dollar scam planned by Allen Stanford, whose Stanford International Bank has major operations in Antigua. Since Antigua's gaming jurisdiction comes under its financial wing, UK officials were apprehensive about the regulatory ability of the Directorate of Offshore Gaming. In fact Antigua had not been initially put on the white list, but was later added when it made out a case before the UK officials.

It is in order to counter these concerns that McDonald has announced these changes in regulatory protocol and compliance. The focus will be on money laundering prevention, licensee accountability and transparency and safeguarding vulnerable players. Since the imposition of the UIGEA in the United States many of the licensees from Antigua have lost a lot of business. Being knocked out from the United Kingdom white list is something they cannot afford. Some of the more popular online casinos licensed from Antigua are Casino Del Rio, Casino Tropez, Millionaire Casino and VIP Slots Casino.

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