Opposition leader proposes alternative approach toward addressing gambling-related issues
The Cayman Islands government opposition leader has criticized the recently introduced Gambling (Amendment) Bill 2018 that calls for the implementation of higher fines and longer prison terms for individuals conducting and engaging in illegal gambling services.
Opposition leader Ezzard Miller has called the measure “draconian” and has further pointed out that it represented another attempt of the government to “find a solution for the wrong problem”, local news outlet the Cayman News Service reported.
The provision of gambling services on the territory of the Cayman Islands is prohibited under the current law. It is also important to note that the law has not been amended since it was first introduced in the early 1960s.
Mr. Miller has pointed out that the global and national gambling landscape has changed significantly since the 1960s and a lot of people are now gambling online or playing US lotteries, thus circumventing the existing ban. The lawmaker has also noted that the government should not be looking to crack down on something that is difficult to be policed fairly and should instead address gambling-related issues in a different manner.
The Gambling (Amendment) Bill is set to be debated in the Legislative Assembly later this month. Under the piece of legislation, people caught to be conducting gambling activities as well as ones caught to be gambling illegally would be subject to tougher penalties and longer prison sentences.
Those Who Can Least Afford It
According to Mr. Miller, those members of the society that can least afford it would be the main target of the proposed clampdown. The lawmaker stressed on the fact that it is usually the poorest who engage in gambling activities or provide gambling activities in hopes to win or to earn quick money. Instead of launching a “draconian measure” that targets the “wrong problem”, Mr. Miller has proposed the regulation of certain gambling services, including the highly popular lotteries so that gamblers can wager money in a regulated environment and avoid black market operations.
Recent studies argue that the current Cayman Islands gambling landscape nurtures a thriving black market industry and contributes to a growing number of gambling-related crimes. Mr. Miller has noted that gas stations, local stores, and even barber shops are selling lottery tickets, commonly known as numbers across the Cayman Islands, but instead of punishing people buying those tickets, the businesses that sell them should be penalized.
As a possible solution to the pressing issues, the lawmaker has proposed the legalization of lotteries and their taxation. Proceeds from the provision of lottery services could be contributed to education and other good causes, Mr. Miller has said. He has suggested 30% as a reasonable rate and has said that the revenue generated could be put to good use and could benefit society in different ways.
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