Barbados Minister of Finance says online gaming regulation bill to be introduced at Parliament

On Friday, Ryan Straughn, Minister of Finance, declared that legislation to oversee the online gaming sector will be coming soon to Barbados. He said that the Government is putting into effect regulations to manage activities that could pose “significant risks” to the financial sector and the wider economy.

“In a risk context, we are in the final stages of addressing a couple of key matters,” Straughn said at the close of the two-day Barbados Risk and Insurance Management Conference at the Barbados Hilton Resort, as reported by Barbados Today.

According to Straughn, the government has had a “long withstanding process” with respect to upgrading its banking and insolvency regime. The minister said he hopes to bring that legislation to Parliament before the end of June to put the entire framework “on an international standing.”

Equally important and more directly related to risk is a new betting and gaming framework which we are bringing into play, also similarly within that time frame,” he added

Straughn explained that the betting and gaming regulation was critical given the proliferation of online gaming that potentially exposes Barbadians to “the similar types of risk that is taking place within the high-frequency trading space.”

We are going to be bringing a new regime with respect to being able to address the risk associated with those things. Why are these things important? Because our citizens are currently engaging in e-commerce type activities that we are not currently capable of regulating,” he said.

Straughn disclosed that the government was working closely with the telecommunications industry to put a system in place for monitoring, adding that authorities would also be working with an undisclosed entity “to build capacity and identify skill sets to provide sophisticated support for regulation.”

Straughn said at the gathering that as Barbados seeks to build its economic fortune, it is important to learn from the experiences of others around the world. He gave the assurance that local regulators will continue to remain vigilant as new and more sophisticated businesses seek to enter the market.

The Minister further acknowledged the potential for significant loss and major economic fallout from certain activities while citing the recent failure of the crypto trading firm FTX in the Bahamas.

“There will always be a risk. You can never totally eliminate risk. As Government, we want to facilitate the improvement of technology and the investment in technology in order for us to do things faster but achieving that efficiency cannot be at the expense of the financial system or the persons who actively participate in that space,” he concluded.