Editorial for 17 August: Gambling Law needs amendment

 

There are those who oppose gambling here in
the Cayman Islands and there are those that support it. There are merits to the
arguments on both sides, but today we are not interested delving into those
issues.

Instead, today we’d like to argue that, since
gambling is currently illegal here, then the laws of the land need to be
enforced and the penalties for breaking the law proportional to breaking other
laws.

Right now, the Gambling Law, even when
enforced, isn’t deterring anyone from gambling. 
Last week, a man found in possession of two lottery tickets was fined to
the full extent of the law: $10.

Also last week, a woman who was selling
numbers was fined $350, a little less than the maximum $400 prescribed by the
Gambling Law.

Not only are these meagre fines totally
inadequate as a deterrent to gambling, they also take up a disproportionate
amount of the court’s time in relation to the penalty.  With all the more serious crimes being
committed these days, we think the courts shouldn’t waste time trying crimes
that are obviously seen as frivolous in the eyes of lawmakers.

In addition, activities that would
technically fall under the definition of gambling under the law happen almost
daily here in relation to charity fundraising and private sector marketing
promotion. Raffles for cars, boats and money, casino nights, trivia contests,
sporting events with cash prizes,  and
scratch-off prize cards are all part of everyday life in Cayman, yet they
remain illegal and ignored by police.

Again, our point today isn’t whether these
things should really be against the law; only that they are against the
existing law and that the law is being ignored. This reinforces the pervasive
belief that breaking the law is acceptable in Cayman. Perhaps this is why other
laws like the Pensions Law and Insurance Law are routinely ignored here.

It’s time for the Cayman Islands to decide
whether it’s a nation of law.  If so, it
needs to enforce the Gambling Law and make its penalties significant enough to
act as a deterrent. If certain activities, like charity raffles, are considered
permissible, then the law needs to reflect that. To do otherwise just
undermines the rule of law here.

 

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