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Emily D. Swoboda

Kahnawake and Antigua & Barbuda Sign Pact to Share Information

30 January 2006

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) and the Antigua and Barbuda Financial Services Commission (FSRC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Jan. 23 that allows for the sharing of information in an effort to improve the regulations on existing and prospective licensees in both jurisdictions.

Murray Marshall, legal council for the KGC, said they had been looking to form a working relationship with another jurisdiction for a while, given the global reach of the remote gambling industry.

"We've been speaking to a number of jurisdictions, including Antigua, for some time about this sort of protocol to make it easier and more effective for our regulatory agencies to work together," Marshall said. "It just happens that the one on Antigua came to fruition first. But there's likely to be others that follow."

Kaye McDonald, director of gaming at the Antigua and Barbuda Financial Services Regulatory Commission, said she met Marshall at a series of conferences where they would discuss ways to standardize the industry and bridge the gap between jurisdictions and regulators. She said Marshall ultimately proposed the MOU between the two jurisdictions and she accepted.

"I said, 'certainly,' because we share a lot of the same licensees and it would be most advantageous for the administration and enforcement of our regulations and also the processing applications and conducting part of the due diligence process," McDonald said.

Under the MOU, the KGC and FSRC have agreed to a free exchange of information, but each request for information will be assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether assistance is appropriate and permissible by the laws of each jurisdiction. This is the first time two licensing jurisdictions have signed an MOU, but Marshall said it won't be the last.

"We have talked to others and there is certainly interest, but I don't think that any other two have actually signed something formally as we have with Antigua," Marshall said. "It's an administrative agreement and I think it's a good step in the right direction. It's the sort-of thing that you'll see more of in the next year, I'm sure."

In the interest of protecting the industry as well as its customers, Marshall and McDonald agree that the goal of their MOU is not so much to globalize the industry, but to create consistencies in certain aspects of regulation.

"I would really like to see the industry collect on certain matters that pertain to Internet gaming and coming together to have certain standards of how we deal with responsible gambling; how we deal with pornography and underage gambling; how we deal with anti-money laundering measures and combating the financing of terrorism and coming together on those key principles for not only Internet gaming, but gaming in general," McDonald said.

Marshall agrees.

"It's just sensible, given the nature of the industry, that regulatory bodies work together and share information to the extent they can," Marshall said. "It's the nature of the industry that it's easier and more effective to regulate when you have the assistance of other jurisdictions."

The benefits are obvious, Marshall said. In the short term it is a way to expedite the applications of prospective operators.

"If we get an application from an operator who has been licensed in another jurisdiction, if we're able to contact a jurisdiction where they have been regulated previously it just makes things go a little smoother."

And in the long term, Marshall feels that it will open up doors to a mutual reciprocity of permits between jurisdictions, allowing for operators to set up shop more easily in jurisdictions other than their home.

"We're not there yet, but I think in the future that's also a possibility--a portability of permits, which would assist operators as well," Marshall said.

And McDonald concurs.

"Certainly I would like to see us come together in that regard but we also have to be mindful of the competitive element and the jurisdictional laws of each country and work from there," McDonald said.

McDonald and Marshall both said that their respective agencies are looking to formulate other MOUs, but were not at liberty to discuss any details.

Kahnawake and Antigua & Barbuda Sign Pact to Share Information is republished from
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda