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Costa Rica – Costa Rica puts new measures in place to regulate gaming

By - 20 February 2017

Costa Rica’s financial system regulator SUGEF (The General Superintendence of Financial Institutions) has proposed that it should be the new body to regulate gaming in order combat money laundering.

The move aims to protect those venues operating within current laws such as Casino Fiesta in Alajuela, pictured here.

It is one of a number of the initiatives put forward by the entity in conjunction with the Costa Rican Drug Institute (ICD), as part of new regulations aimed at combating money laundering and terrorism.
The new proposals come after recommendations which were put forward by the International Financial Action Task Force (GAFI) which completed its assessment of Costa Rica’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing in 2015.

Guillermo Araya, Director of the ICD said that the project seeks to ensure that Costa Rica meets the standards set forward by the organisation to combat money laundering and terrorist financing and a number of economic activities will be subject to clear scrutiny and regulation from now on. This will include, real estate, the sale of metals and precious stones and casinos. “We expect the process to proceed without any obstacles, so that the financial action group values and will continue to value the entire Costa Rican system,” Mr. Araya told local press.

Cost Rica has come under scrutiny for some time and the Bill is the result of a series of suggestions made to Costa Rica by the International Financial Action Task Force. In July 2016 the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America (GAFILAT) carried out an evaluation to see if the 40 recommendations which had been put forward by the organisation had been carried out. They concluded that for the Costa Rican authorities “terrorism and financing thereof do not seem to be a threat, and there are no investigations related to terrorist financing.”

The GAFI 2015 report was particularly damning of the land based and online gaming sectors stating that: “As regards physical casinos, the Ministry of Public Security cannot prevent criminals from having a significant participation in them. To operate in Costa Rica, casinos must be authorised by the Ministry of Public Security, although to get this authorisation they only have to comply with formal aspects, so the Ministry cannot prevent criminals from having a significant participation in them. The situation is even more complicated with online casinos, considered (together with casinos with a physical presence) in the National Risk Diagnosis of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing to have a high level of exposure to money laundering and terrorist financing risk, as they are not subject to regulation and they do not require any type of authorisation.”

Authorities are trying to prevent Costa Rica from falling onto a list of non cooperative counties in the fight against terrorism. GAFI identifies jurisdictions with weak measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing in two public documents that are issued three times a year. It is expected that the new measures will be passed soon.

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