Terror financing: Govt mulls over regulator for casino sector

In order to keep a check on terror financing and laundering instances in the casino sector, the government is mulling to bring in a 'Gaming regulator' for the business which operates in Goa and few other tourist locations in the country.

A proposal in this regard has been submitted by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to the Finance Ministry after it carried out an assessment of the sector recently in terms of detecting and reporting suspicious and counterfeit currency transactions.

According to sources, the panel- Casino Sector Assessment Committee (CSAC), headed by the FIU Director, has recommended that the Casino business in India should be brought under a "comprehensive legal framework" while "autonomous regulators or Gaming regulators" could be created for strengthening the anti-money laundering and combating financing of terror regulations in the sector.

The FIU, the nodal agency for receiving, analysing and disseminating data related to doubtful transactions under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), has also recommended to the government that the Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines prevalent in the sector at present should be reviewed and brought at par, as stipulated by global financial bodies like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Strengthening money laundering laws in the casino sector is one of the major recommendations of the FATF -- a global financial body set up by G-7 nations in 1989.

India became a full-member of the body last year.
However, there is no official data as to how many Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) and Counterfeit Currency Reports (CCRs) have been generated by the casino business in the country.

Sources in the Finance Ministry said the sector does report such instances in "good numbers."

"The sector remains vulnerable to money laundering, terrorist financing and usage of counterfeit currency in its channels and hence the recommendations would go a long way in protecting this business from any such financial abuse," the official said.
A number of casinos are at present operational in Goa, Daman and Diu and Sikkim among others.

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