Cayman Islands lawmakers look to clamp down on illegal gambling with heftier fines
Cayman Islands lawmakers have indicated their intentions to ramp up efforts to crack down on illegal gambling with the recent introduction of a piece of legislation that, if adopted, would increase the penalties imposed on violators of existing laws in the British Overseas Territory.
The new Gambling (Amendment) Bill 2018 aims to revise provisions in the Cayman Islands’ existing Gambling Law that were never amended since the original enactment of that law in 1964. The piece of legislation will be discussed in the next meeting of the Legislative Assembly, which is scheduled to take place in November. The bill is currently a subject of public consultation that will remain open until the upcoming Legislative Assembly debate.
The piece concerns every individual involved in any way in gambling activities, from people who conduct such activities to gamblers. Under the bill, penalties for the ownership and use of premises for the provision of gambling services, the publication of lottery numbers, and handling proceeds from gambling activities would increase from $400 to $10,000. In addition, the maximum prison time for individuals caught to have been involved in any of the above violations would increase from one to three years.
Penalties for participation in public lottery, that is playing or being found in an illegal lottery establishment, would increase from $10 to $2,500, while the maximum prison sentence would increase from two to six months.
Other provisions in the bill include a rise in the penalty for those found to have taken part in or conducting a lottery game from $100 to $20,000 and in the prison term from two months to three years.
No Online Gambling Provisions
While the Gambling (Amendment) Bill 2018 contains extensive provisions regarding the conduction and participation of lottery (number) games in land-based establishments across the Cayman Islands, it does not specify whether those same provisions apply to online gambling.
According to analysts, lottery games are extremely popular with Cayman Island residents, but online gambling on offshore websites could actually be where the greater portion of gambling money is spent. The Gambling (Amendment) Bill in its current form does not specify whether and how gambling online or the provision of unauthorized online gambling services would be charged.
The focus on lottery games has been justified with the fact that it is much easier to identify and locate people who provide or gamble on this type of activities as they are usually conducted at local stores, bars, or private residences.
Lawmakers have over the years proposed the introduction of a national lottery that would contribute funds to good causes, but such proposals have failed to gain enough traction in the Cayman Islands’ Legislative Assembly.
Growing crime rates have been among the main reasons why lawmakers and local authorities have maintained the current status of gambling on the Cayman Islands. According to local police, there has been a steady rise in the number of gambling-related incidents. In addition, “a strong connection between certain crimes and gambling activities” has been identified by authorities.
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