Kalilah Reynolds reports.

The United States Government is turning up the pressure on Jamaica’s Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission, BGLC, to properly vet the China-based technical services provider of new lottery licensee, Mahoe Gaming.

At the centre of the concerns by the US is that the licence has been issued before due diligence has been conducted on the Chinese firm, Genlot, which is Mahoe Gaming’s service provider.

Mahoe Gaming is moving to break Supreme Ventures’ hold on the lucrative, multi-billion dollar lottery sector.

A licence was issued to the company last week.

US Ambassador to Jamaica, Donald Tapia, says the United States is concerned about the decision to issue the license to Mahoe Gaming before due diligence on its service provider, Genlot.

The Ambassador is calling for the intervention of Finance Minister, Dr. Nigel Clarke, to whom the BGLC reports.

Ambassador Tapia was speaking today during an exclusive interview with Abka Fitz-Henley and Kalilah Reynolds on Nationwide This Morning.

He says the US is concerned about the process by which the license was issued to Mahoe Gaming.

The Ambassador says it’s curious that the process used by the BGLC disregarded a policy directive that was given by Audley Shaw in 2011 when Shaw was Finance Minister.

Ambassador Tapia says the gambling industry requires careful management of data.

He says the US is not objecting to Mahoe Gaming, but is insisting on due process.

Tapia Clarifies Previous Comments

Meanwhile, the US Ambassador to Jamaica is seeking to clarify comments made on Nationwide This Morning in relation to the recently granted lottery licence.

In a statement a short while ago, Mr Tapia says since the interview, he’s had a “fruitful discussion” with Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. Nigel Clarke. 

He says he’s had an opportunity to see the Independent Review of the lottery application process conducted by former-Contractor General and former-Member of the Integrity Commission, Dr. Derrick McKoy, and the Supreme Court decision in the matter of Prime Sports vs. the Betting, Gaming, and Lotteries Commission, BGLC.

He says it shows that the lottery application procedures followed were in accordance with Jamaican law.

Mr Tapia notes that the BGLC’s authorized under Jamaican Law as the sole authority to receive, review, and grant lottery licences in Jamaica.

Ambassador Tapia says he’s been apprised, that the licence issued to Mahoe Gaming constitutes only the second stage of a multi-stage process and does not represent approval to commence commercial operations. 

He says he now understands that approval for commercial operations, can only begin after thorough vetting of the technical services provider. 

However, the American diplomat is reiterating his concern that the proposed technical services provider, Genlot, must be thoroughly vetted to ensure that it does not endanger Jamaica’s National Security.

He’s also against the company having access to the personal information of the millions of Americans who visit the island each year. 

Mr Tapia says Genlot works closely with Huawei, and “as a Chinese company, would be subject to the intrusive laws, of the Chinese Communist Party”.