Leaders support gambling referendum

Two prominent Cayman Islands lawmakers said last week that, aside from any personal views about legalised gambling, they would support calls for a referendum on the subject.  

Both Deputy Premier Rolston Anglin and Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin said during a Cayman Business Outlook panel Thursday evening that any question about casino or lottery gambling should be left up to the voters to decide.  

“It should be done in a national referendum,” Mr. Anglin said.  

Attempts to hold such a vote during 2010 under the previous United Democratic Party government administration failed amid public pressure on the issue. Although a petition circulated in support of gambling by local talk show host Gilbert McLean did receive several hundred signatures, the issue never resurfaced.  

Asked about it by Cayman Business Outlook panel moderator Ben Meade on Thursday, Mr. Anglin said it would be his inclination to support casino gambling as a way to enhance Cayman’s tourism product.  

“Look at the number of countries in the region and look at how those have completely changed and revolutionised their tourism products,” Mr. Anglin said. He noted that some countries, like the Bahamas, do not allow their own nationals to attend casinos, but he did not state whether he would support a similar situation in the Cayman Islands.  

Mr. Anglin’s former UDP colleague, George Town Member of the Legislative Assembly Ellio Solomon, said during Thursday’s panel 
discussion that he was against legalised gambling because he believed it would eventually cost Cayman more than it would earn the government in any revenues that might be collected.  

“No one ever shows you what the expenditure side of smoking is,” Mr. Solomon said, referring to the health care costs of treating people who develop cancer or bronchial diseases from long-term cigarette use. “No one’s going to tell you what you’re going to have to push out in terms of programmes for those who are addicted to gambling.”  

Deputy Premier Anglin said such a view attempts to take what he called a “convenient middle” on the issue, pretending there are no numbers games and other wager-based operations within the Cayman Islands. A consultant’s report done for the former government in 2010 found that legalised gambling would likely succeed in Cayman mostly because such “below the board” operations were rife in the islands.  

“There are more numbers and more gaming systems here now than there ever were before,” Mr. Anglin said. “If we are going to go out and eliminate the evils of just the numbers system alone, we need to beef up the [Royal Cayman Islands Police Service] … and wage a war to stamp it out. 

“The majority must have a say in their destiny,” he added. “People are going to make the decisions they want to make.”  

Opposition Leader McLaughlin said he personally does not support gambling for some of the reasons Mr. Solomon expressed and because he does not believe any national lottery system would earn government any significant tax revenue. However, he admits that other members within his People’s Progressive Movement Party are “far more liberal” on the gambling issue.  

Mr. McLaughlin said he would support a referendum on casino gambling, as long as the question about whether local Caymanians would be able to make wagers in the facilities was resolved prior to the balloting.  

“A distinction needs to be made between lottery and casinos,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “I believe that Cayman’s population simply would not sustain [the lottery] without being affiliated with a lottery somewhere else. 

“The issue with casinos is the same one that Bahamas have contended with: Should you or should you not let your local population play?” he said. 


  1. I definately support this referendum on gambling. Being very honest, the people have wanted this for a long time. I see it as a way forward for the island without bringing on any new crimes or disadvantages.
    I am also aware that it has been opposed strongly by some churches; however I would like the church to explain the truth What is gambling to them? Of course gambling becomes a sin when you use someone else money. Why should I use the money separated for my light bill, waterbill or tithes for that matter.
    What is church lotteries? What is selling tickets for dinner sale, and giver away’s on the shows. What is buying groceries at the supermarket, writing your name on the receipt and dropping it in the box? They are all a game of chance. I have seen pastors write their name on those receipt and drop them in boxes. Who says that will keep you out of heaven?
    I believe that this vote for a referendum on Lottery should be done this election May. The people want it.

  2. Putting the question before the people is a good idea. However, Do you want to legalize gaming? can only be the first part of the question. Should gaming operations be run by the CI government or by private sector entrepreneurs? is part 2, and Should locals be allowed to gamble or only non-residents? part 3 of the question.
    Given that gaming is very different in nature from, e.g., a trading, importing, building or servicing business better performed by the private sector, gaming operations should be run by the CIG. This will prevent a casino mafia from coming about in the CI. Plus: If government-run, all profits from gaming will help government out of its revenue problem.
    As for part 3, if everyone is allowed in casinos, revenues would obviously be much higher. However, this comes at a cost that may well outweigh the benefit: gambling addicts who lose all their savings, broken families, crime, prostitution, etc. It is by pupose that other places like the Bahamas restrict gaming to visitors. They know why: Tourists who stay just for a few days or weeks are much less likely to ruin themselves, given that they need to come with a return ticket in the first place.
    So the answer to question 1 is: Government-run gaming operations restricted to tourists are perfectly Cayman-style. They will create government revenue without really hurting anyone. Casino gaming will be another tourist attraction that will make the CI more competitive. It will help the tourism industry and create jobs for locals. A win-win situation for everyone.

  3. You almost got it, hunter.

    The only reason, pastors do not want gambling, is because it’s less money in the tithe.

    That is the REAL reason.

    Why go to a bingo or raffle, when if you like to gamble. Go to a casino.

    It’s the same for sunday shopping. Do you honestly thing, sunday shopping will ruin the island? No, it will not. It will actually promote spending and in turn increase business.

    But it cuts the churches bottom line. Because if people are out shopping. They aren’t putting money into that collection plate.

    There is a reason why there are so many churches. Alot jobs for a paster, huh. Gotta keep that money rollin in.

    They do not care for anything else. That’s the truth of the matter.

  4. First Cayman should allow opening casinos on Panamian, Bermudian and Bahamian territory. This is first crucial step. Then if somebody wants casinos on Caymanian territory – you can try doing referendum, but I am not sure that this is good idea.

    If somebody wonders how Cayman was able to forbid opening casinos in other countries – think about cruise ships, which are mostly registered in countries I listed and by marine laws are a territory of respective countries.

    It also hurts recreation industry – disallowing casinos at cruise ships. Cruise ships, where no locals can easily access it and where passengers are not usually donate to local churches much.

    Let cruiselines open casinos! And I don’t think you need referendum for this, because cruise ship is not a caymanian territory!

  5. Hey there is nothing wrong with taking money from desperate people who want to win the lottery instead of working. Maybe a few will get addicted to it and ruin their lives.

    Statisics show casinos increase crime but our police can handle that.

    If the government can make a few bucks off of the poor mans lottery, who cares right??

  6. Huh,

    You are wrong. Read on extraterritoriality principle.

    The three most common cases recognized today internationally relate to the persons and belongings of foreign heads of state, the persons and belongings of ambassadors and certain other diplomatic agents, and ships in foreign waters.

    Yes, Cayman can disallow ships from entering the waters and set the rules for ships entering the waters, but ship itself is still territory of another state. And captain of the ship is still above governor and government on the territory of the ship.

    In case with gambling – yes, you can set the rules disallowing cruise ships to do gambling, by disallowing offenders to enter your waters. BUT, gambling done on cruise ship IS NOT a gambling done on a Cayman territory. So it would not break any Cayman laws. It would only break regulations set for cruise ships. By whom? Port Authority? Department of Tourism? I don’t know.

  7. Just for the record, casinos already exist in Cayman and I hear they come complete with slick Vegas croupiers. Gambling will inflict a lot of pain in these islands.

  8. Casino’s are the biggest lies perpetrated in communities by governments and politicians eager to suck up those tax revenues, so they can redistribute what the casinos will let them have, it in the forms of crumbs back to the people they helped impoverish via those SAME casinos.

    Casino’s take huge amounts of tourist revenues, local revenues (presuming locals both expats and Caymanians are able to gamble) and takes it over seas. Casino’s does not invest in local economies except what they absolutely have to. They use the revenues to BUILD MORE CASINO’S ELSEWHERE! Don’t be freaking idiots!

    The jobs Casino’s provide are mostly all low paying jobs and expat oriented. There is only a one time economical surge when the casino is being built, after which it because a parasite on the local economy, that dwarfs the amount injected from building the casino, as compared to the mount that it sucks out over the years.

    The only local beneficiaries is the government and politicians, and the revenues PALE in comparison to what the casino’s take out of the local economy.

    SEE: Las Vegas, Atlantic City in NJ, Nassau, Grand Bahama, the surrounding neighborhoods are GHETTOS and local unemployment are some of the highest!

    Stop with the feel-good BS policies and actually THINK. There are many ways to generate new revenues without selling out the economy and creating more poverty so the government can then turn around and pretend to help people by giving them handouts afterwards.

    By the looks of who’s pushing this idea, I guess it comes as no surprise…..

    Create business opportunities! Create NEW markets which generate revenues INWARD to PEOPLE and LOCAL BUSINESSES so they can hire people. NOT dependency driven governments which continually grow suck more revenue on an overgrowing scale.

    Why is Cayman not a financial education center of the world? If it can do medical tourism, why not world class Education? Instead of spending 300 million in buildings and asphalt, why not spend a few on the best Finance professors of the world and make Cayman the place to have a master degree from? Surely 10-20 million in marketing can go a long way instead of building a parking lot of that amount. Ditto with technology and other sciences.

    Why isn’t Cayman a technological service providers? This is the internet age for crying out loud. The cheap labor doesn’t have to reside on Cayman! We can produce services leveraging India, Russia, Asia, and resell the services overseas. Technology and financial services go hand in hand.

    Expand and market CEC heavily ,create the need for more high paying jobs.

  9. In my opinion, introducing gambling will be a drop in the bucket to bettering the economy. It may very will increase crime and deadbeat fathers and mothers.

  10. I disagree Justwokeup. It’s going to create jobs for young people.

    Just the other day. Complaints that young people don’t have jobs.

    How many people complain about the government not creating jobs. I ask you, how are they to create jobs. When people don’t want construction, info structure change, and things like casino’s to be built. All of this creates jobs. Tell us how we create jobs?! Lets hear it.

    And all casino jobs start at 15 dollars an hour. And work upwards. Great way to make Caymanian jobs.

  11. Bring the gambling referendum on may with the election.With Cuba open up to american tourists in the near future this referendum will be a win-win situation for the Cayman Islands.Think ahead and thinking smart bring casinos to cayman.

  12. Stan – If you’re right wouldn’t that mean that the U.S. Coast Guard would have no authority to board a foreign-flagged ship that is in U.S. territorial waters on suspicion that it is carrying contraband? Please explain the difference.

  13. We’ll see if this referendum will require a majority of all registered voters to pass as was required for OMOV. My hunch is that it will be a bare majority of ballots cast.

    Big berd – I think you are being a bit unfair on churches and pastors to say they only care whether there will be less money for themselves. Lives are ruined through gambling. Families suffer when the rent money was gambled away. People sometimes commit suicide when they have lost everything through gambling. It is addictive. Key findings from a 1999 Australian report on that country’s gaming industry has revealed that 80 per cent of their residents who gambled the year before spent nearly 11 billion, more than 290,000 of their residents were problem gamblers and that one in 10 Australians surveyed said they have contemplated suicide due to their gambling addiction.
    Casinos are associated with organised crime. Aren’t those enough reason to reject it?

  14. Speaker,

    US is bad example in this case, because US thinks that they can through whole regions into humanitarian catastrophy just because they want to.

    But specifically to this example – there is international law governing transportation of fire arms and contraband. As a part of this law there is detailed prescribed procedure of how and when you can inspect foreign ships. And yes you can do it in your territorial. And yes, according to this law you can confiscate it and you can arrest team on the ship.

    But there is a big difference – inspection, confiscation and arrest are made under INTERNATIONAL LAW, not under US Law. International law also allows country to take the team and prosecute it in accordance with country’s laws. This is the big difference. You cannot just by default extend country’s law to the ship territory.

    If you take US – they can stop almost any ship anywhere in the world. They will get lots of diplomatic protest, but in the end – if you don’t respect international law and you do have firepower – nobody will force you to respect it.

  15. Stan – the U.S. Coast Guard does not derive any search and seizure powers from international law but from a U.S. statute and it is for the purpose of enforcing U.S. law, not international law. 14 U.S.C. 89 provides that the Coast Guard may make inquiries, examinations, inspections,searches, seizures, and arrests upon the high seas and waters over which the United States has jurisdiction, for the prevention, detection, and suppression of violations of laws of the United States.

    In other words, if you are in U.S. territorial waters you are subject to the jurisdiction of the US Coast Guard to enforce U.S. law.

  16. Speaker,

    Most likely 14 U.S.C. 89 you refer to is just an international law word-to-word copied in US legislation. This is what all countries do – negotiate international laws, then ratify it and place in local legislation. In case it is not – than it would be illustration US arrogance to other nations. But I don’t think that in this case US should be inventing something not already in International legislation.

    Coming back to our discussions – I sometimes see US Coast Guard in Cayman waters. Answer one question – if two members of team of US Coast Guard ship decide to play some poker with money bets before going to sleep – tell me how RCIPS will enter the ship, seize those poker players and how they will be prosecuted in Cayman court. I like reading fairy tales.

  17. Simple search on the internet showed many law articles claiming that US Coast Guard laws in some parts violate International laws and … surprise-surprise … US Constitution. Of course this is done as usual to protect National Security.

    I just want to say that it’s bad example for discussing casinos at cruise ships in cayman waters…

    My final word on casinos
    – don’t ever allow casinos on Cayman soil.
    – change cruise ship rules to allow them run casinos while in Cayman port
    – consider government run national lottery (for both locals and tourists)

  18. Stan – You’ve ended up proving my point which is that it is a principle of international law that vessels within the territorial waters of any country or territory will be subject to the jurisdiction and laws of that country or territory. It is not peculiar to the U.S. as you first claimed.

    Whether the CI police would take on the U.S. Guard is is a practical and diplomatic matter and not relevant to the legal issue.

  19. Speaker,

    Exactly opposite – subject to international laws as long as the country is not US. Because countries who respect international laws will not require anything additional to international laws in their legislation.

    And somehow simple enforcement of Cayman laws on Cayman territory (as you claim) becomes what you called diplomatic matter. Hm.

  20. Stan – you are clearly out of your depth on this and do not understand the relationship between international law and domestic laws, and you keep contradicting yourself so this will be my last post.

    First you say Most likely 14 U.S.C. 89 you refer to is just an international law word-to-word copied in US legislation. This is what all countries do – negotiate international laws, then ratify it and place in local legislation, then you say Because countries who respect international laws will not require anything additional to international laws in their legislation. Do you understand that you have flatly contradicted yourself?

    Obviously it would be a major diplomatic incident for the CI police to take on the U.S. Coast Guard for officers playing poker while the vessel is in port. I really should not have to explain this to you.

  21. I am curious, has this Gambling proposal sprung up because election is four months away. People do not let these politicians fool you any more. They will promise that it will be looked into and passed after May election. Do not buy into it. I do not trust this to jump up now unless they see to it that we vote on it in May and then deal with it after May.
    Considering the word Gambling, I bring these few thoughts to the table.
    Insurance on your house and Car. Is that paying a game of chance if y6ou get into an accident or your home catch fire or is destroyed by hurricane. So why do we pay those things. They both are a game of chance.
    Does Gambling fall under the Law of God? If it does then why is it that some churches are preaching that we are no longer under the Law but under Grace. Which is correct.

  22. Last time there was talk of a referendum for a Lottery I clearly remember that it was stated that all residents would have a vote.

    Then the churches campaigned to stop a referendum, This I think was a hypocritical and selfish move given that regularly I am asked to spend 25 on a church, rotary or a similar organisations raffle to win a big prize. these raffles are a lottery under another name

  23. Speaker on 12:18 I believe you are being one sided. Have you give any thought as to how Alcohol ruin Families lives. Are you aware how many husbands have left their wives by being drunk chatting to a pretty face in the Bar. The men sometimes give the Pretty a 50.00 fifty dollar note for a beer and tell her to keep the change. You think a man buying lottery will do that. Don,t care how pretty your face is he is only planning to win. More money is gambled away on Alcohol, we all know that is a fact.
    The other fact is that Buying illegal lottery will not sop in Cayman. You might as well say people will stop drinking beer or smoking weed. It is called fighting a loosing battle. Jamaican lottery is played here 4 times a day. We got the eliexe Lottery every night, Honduras Lottery every sunday, we got the Phillpino Lottery playing every day, the Indian Lottery Playing ebery day the Canadian and Us Lottery playing among the select few. Only Cayman Government not getting anything out the pie. Hippocrites about christian country.Not true.

  24. As a young Caymanian I am increasingly annoyed by the legislators of this country. You know, they’re the same people who have been playing politics since before I was born (true story, I’ve been up in the archives) and it’s amazing to me how easily they can switch sides on an issue and get legislation passed when it suits them.

    You know what? I’d like to see them talking about legislation that will ACTUALLY MATTER to my grandchildren. How can we possibly be discussing this when we don’t even have a CONSERVATION LAW?

    Please, for the sake of my generation and my kids and grandkids, get your heads out of your own wallets and focused on the future.

  25. Hunter – so what are you saying – because we have some social problems with alcoholism we should add to them by legalising gambling? Why do you think that Las Vegas has the highest rate of suicide in
    America, for both residents and visitors? It also has the highest rates of prostitution. People sell their possessions and commit illegal acts to pay gambling debts. Why make a social evil more accessible by legalising it?

    You are dead wrong that more money is spent on alchohol than on gambling (and here I am thinking of casino gambling). It is physically impossible to drink that much.

    You are also dead wrong if you think that patrons of casinos don’t give overly-generous tips to servers because they find them attractive but a 50 tip is not really the issue.

    Here is an article from the Jamaica Gleaner by Prof. Ian Boxill that should give you some food for thought. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20090902/cleisure/cleisure2.html

    Gambling is a tax on the poor and the mathematically challenged.

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