The Gaming Commission of Ghana (GCG) has announced its preparedness to sanction all operators in the gaming industry who failed to comply with the Gaming Act, 721, established in 2006 by the Government.
The move would affect the operators of Casino, sports betting, route operations (Slot machines), importation and installation of gaming equipment, promotional gaming (Games of chance), scratch cards, and bingo games.
Other areas of focus by the Commission were E-Sports, mobile gaming, and online gaming.
This was disclosed at a stakeholders’ engagement, organised by the Commission on the theme: “The New Phase of Gaming Regulation in Ghana”, on Friday in Accra.
The Commission a regulatory body for gaming institutions, also used the platform to unveil its new logo, which was made up of the ‘Roulette Wheel’ used in Casino gaming, a ‘Tag Line’ of the Commission, which alerted operators to protect vulnerable punters including underage gaming.
The logo also contained an illustration of a recreational gaming, sports betting, and route operations as well as a dice representing other games of chance.
Mr Peter Mireku, the Gaming Commissioner said the Commission sought to modernise and sanitise operations in the industry.
Hence, it would implement initiatives and programmes to improve gaming regulation and create an enabling environment for legitimate businesses to grow, he said.
Mr Mireku said among the activities, the Commission would undertake in this year are: to review the current Gaming Act, initiate a comprehensive study of the gaming environment, and release the final notice on the migration from analogue to digital gaming machines.
Others would be to work on the implementation of a Central Monitoring System, streamline the Gaming Licensing Process, and facilitate the replacement of Value Added Tax (VAT) with a tax on the Gross Gaming Revenue for casinos.
The Gaming Commissioner disclosed that, a major area of concern had been the issue of charging VAT on casino operations by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
After engaging in deliberations with the GRA, Mr Mireku said, the Commission suggested that a tax on casino’s gross gaming revenue at a rate must be agreed on to resolve the issue.
The Commission had also procured new licenses for its operations to clamp down on illegal operations and stop revenue leakage as the license had advanced security features to discourage any attempt at duplication, he said.
Mrs Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, the Chief of Staff addressing the stakeholders as the Guest of Honour, said the gaming industry had the capacity to contribute to the economic development.
She said the Government was, therefore, interested in the Commission’s initiative of reviewing the gaming industry.
She gave them the assurance that government would support the industry and urged them to adopt best practices to enhance its progress.
Mrs Osei-Opare said the Government would consider revising the taxes imposed on operators in the industry, saying, “In as much as the government wants to raise revenue for the state, it needs to provide a friendly business environment for industry players to enable them comply with it. If not, it can lead to underground illegal activities that would not help”.
Mr Ambrose Dery, the Minister of Interior in a speech delivered on his behalf said responsible gaming protects the vulnerable and prevents people from becoming addicts.
He, therefore, called on industry players to prevent minors from engaging in gaming of any form.
He asked the Commission to establish tough punitive measures for illegal operators as well as those who failed to meet the requirements of the Gaming Act and Standards of the Commission.
Mr Kobby Annan, the Deputy Commissioner of the GCG said there were 22 casinos, 30 sports betting centres, 14 route operations, and promotional gaming centres licensed in the country.
On illegal and offshore betting, he said, the Commission was collaborating with State Security Agencies to curb the menace.
He called on telecommunication companies and financial institutions to liaise with the Commission before integrating on mobile money platforms for winnings to be paid through financial institutions.
Mr Patrick Kwakye, a Compliance Manager of the Commission advised Casino Operators to appoint anti-money laundering officers to monitor the Casino’s operations, as it will safeguarded the integrity of the industry.
He asked new applicants and industry players to complete anti-money laundering forms from the Commission and advised them to request for identification cards from their clients before dealing with them.