Flowers: Banks don’t know their customers like gaming houses do
Guardian Business Reporter
Published: Mar 17, 2017
CEO of FML Group of Companies Craig Flowers said he thinks that gaming institutions do a better job than banks and casinos at keeping track of its customers through the Know Your Customer (KYC) regime. He added that web shop deposits being accepted by international banks will be an “ongoing long-term challenge” for the gaming industry.
In an interview with Guardian Business, Flowers said it is unlikely banks will “budge” on their position to accept deposits from gaming houses. The issue continues to gain traction from the Bahamian and international public, but Flowers said that banks have “exploited” the notion of gaming house deposits being associated with illegal activities.
“One of the things that we have to keep in mind is that the regulations of local countries have little or no bearing on bank policies as it relates to handling what is perceived to be questionable funds,” he said.
“We can talk to the banks until the cows come home, the banks are not going to budge one iota, in my mind that is, about their policies, which are being vetted by most of the foreign policies that are now being governed by money laundering, drug and human trafficking.
“All of the illegal operations that U.S. funds were used for over the years, now banks are using that as a reason for being able to close and not give reason for closing accounts from anyone.
“As long as the banks have that as a tool, I think they are going to exploit that on questionable businesses like gaming.”
In addition, Flowers said the U.S. policy is “still not transparent” on online gaming.
“We are going to have this question raised from time to time, on whether or not banks are going to accept gaming monies in their institutions,” he said.
“I think this conversation will go on for quite some time until such time the U.S. is comfortable with online gaming.”
Amid a challenged economy, banks around the world have tightened risk measures on all levels to ensure accountability, profitability and liquidity.
Online gaming, no doubt, has been pinned to the perception of drug smuggling and other illegal activities.
But, Flowers argued that he thinks gaming houses have a better control of their customers in comparison to banks.
“I believe we have better compliance, as far as KYC is concerned, than the banks do or any other fixed-base casino.
“There is no way in the world that they can try and make me believe that we don’t have better control over our customers in gaming than the casinos do or even some of the banks.
“We have better control, but yet it hasn’t been proven nor has it been tested.”
“Now, I do know that the Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) 19 regulations in Europe, they are now testing electronic digital controls that must now be proven globally in Europe for banking purposes through the institutions. But, it has still not been accepted in the U.S,” said Flowers.
“The US and Canada are still having major challenges with accepting currencies in their banks that they have put this tag on as far as it is a possibility of it being involved in drugs or being used as a channel for cleaning up money.”
He admitted that there is “a great deal” of illegal activity that occurs, but it is important for the industry as a regulated environment to get together and “prove” themselves as parties that should be permitted to do certain banking activities.
Flowers noted that the problem faced by the gaming industry in terms of banking extends to banks in The Bahamas and across the globe.