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Tougher laws on illegal gambling

Local News 10 Nov, 2022 Follow News

Tougher laws on illegal gambling

The Government is set to update old gambling laws to stem the increase in illegal gambling and associated criminality.

The Government published the Gambling (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the Proceeds of Crime Act (Amendment of Schedule 1) Order, 2022 on Monday, 7 November. The Bills are now in the period of public consultation and are expected to be debated at the next sitting of Parliament next month.

Originally enacted on 1 January 1964, the Gambling Act has essentially remained unchanged for almost 59

years. Amendments were made to the legislation in 2015, facilitating the registering of cruise ships with

casinos on the local shipping registry, and also permitted local voluntary organisations, churches and service

clubs to hold lawful raffles.

Premier Wayne Panton stated that the legislation related to illegal gambling is proposed to be

amended in line with Government’s efforts to foster safer communities in the Cayman Islands, and to

curb the increase in illegal gambling crimes.

“Over the past few years, our community has seen a sharp increase in the rate of violent crimes linked to

illegal gambling, including armed robberies and murder,” Panton said. “The rising crime, and hidden societal implications of gambling in general, are enabled through the current legislation that provides little to no deterrence for one-off or repeat offenders. The fine for offences under section 4 of the current Act

(including keeping a common gaming house) is $400 or 12 months’ imprisonment, while an offence under

section 5 of the current Act (committing an act of illegal gambling) is a $10 fine or 2 months’ imprisonment.”

Under the new legislation, it has also been proposed to add the crime of gambling/crimes related to gambling

to Schedule 1 of the Proceeds of Crime Act (2020 Revision). Currently, Schedule 1 of the Proceeds of Crime

Act (POCA) mirrors Schedule 2 of the UK legislation, with slight changes on where gambling is regulated.

By adding gambling to Schedule 1 of the POCA, it makes all gambling offences a lifestyle offence.

This amendment to the POCA will also allow for confiscation orders to be made by the courts, in the case

where someone is found to have taken part in or facilitated illegal gambling activity.

Panton added: “While there is an obvious link between illegal gambling and the various types of serious crimes resulting from

organised gambling, less obvious are the costs to the law enforcement and the wider society, the social costs

of gambling at an individual and familial level are sometimes referred to as ‘hidden costs’ due to the fact that

they are often misunderstood or overlooked. It is therefore imperative that we enact legislative measures to

deter gambling and the long-term effects it has on the health and safety of our communities, our integrity as

people, and the jurisdiction’s reputation for good governance and upholding the rule of law.”

Samuel Bulgin said: “As Attorney General, I welcome the approval of the Bill and support the Cabinet and RCIPS’ success in improving our current legislation surrounding illegal gambling.”

Derek Byrne, the Commissioner of Police said: “The increased sanctions and fines for a range of illegal gambling offences contained in the new Bill will act

as a very strong deterrent. This relates to sellers of illegal lottery numbers and persons engaged in illegal gambling and betting,

including persons who support or purchase lottery numbers for illegal lotteries. Illegal gambling in the Cayman

Islands, in all of its forms, mainly occurs at street level and is very visible in our local communities impacting

our most vulnerable. The enhanced powers and sanctions provided will assist the police to tackle this problem.

“There is a significant amount of serious crime associated with illegal gambling in the Cayman Islands

including assaults, robberies, intimidation, and more recently there has been a related murder. Illegal

gambling in all of its forms has a very unwelcome and pervasive influence on the most vulnerable in our

communities, and this Bill sends a very strong message to all those engaged in this criminal activity.”

Under the new Bill, fines for committing offences will increase from KY$400 to $10,000, and the term of imprisonment from one year to four years or both.

Anonymous tips can be provided directly to the RCIPS via the Confidential Tip Line at 949-7777 or through

the police website: www.rcips.ky/submit-a-tip.

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