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Dominican Republic – Government warns against unlicensed operators

By - 15 January 2024

The Ministry of Finance has issued a warning to the public over gambling via unlicensed betting sites. The warning was posted by the head of The National Casino and Gaming Board (Dirección de Casinos y Juegos de Azar) Claudia Alvarez-Troncoso on her LinkedIn account and published via the Ministry of Finance.

“From the Directorate of Casinos and Games of Chance we are warning citizens of companies, trademarks and/or websites not authorized to operate in order to avoid unnecessary risks and recommending that they choose operators that comply with the legislation, as well as to verify the authorization of the operator through official channels and avoid participating in unregulated activities. We emphasize the importance of playing and betting responsibly and legally to ensure a safe and fair experience,” she wrote.

The official warning included a list of eight sites and twelve companies/brands which the board said were operating without a license. “In order to verify the authorization of an operator or report an illegal operation, citizens can contact the authorities through the contact channels provided on the official website of the gaming board www.casinos.gob.do.”

The statement warned that the sites were banned under the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act 155-17. The act overhauled the previous Anti-Money Laundering Act 72-02 from June 2002.

The statement finished by saying that: “Remember that gaming and betting should be a responsible and a regulated entertainment activity. Avoid unnecessary risks by choosing operators that comply with current legislation.”

Online gambling comes under the supervision of the gambling board. The country has around 45 casinos, more than any other country in the Caribbean. Illegal lottery betting has been a long standing issue in the Dominican Republic and there are around 70,000 illegal lottery outlets located nationwide.  Claudia Alvarez-Troncoso was appointed head of the Directorate of Casinos and Games of Chance of the Ministry of Finance in May last year and has highlighted the issue as a major cause of concern.   

In addition she takes over after the board was caught up in a corruption investigation called Operation Squid (Operación Calamar) launched by the Office of the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office for the Prosecution of Administrative Corruption (Pepca) last year. According to prosecutors  the modus operandi consisted of monthly payments that officials of the National Casino and Gaming Board (Dirección de Casinos y Juegos de Azar), demanded, as extortion, from the owners of sports betting outlets, lotteries and slot machine operators so that they could continue to operate.

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