Magistrate queries Gambling Law fines

Man on work permit admits selling numbers

A man who pleaded guilty to two charges under the Gambling Law received the maximum sentences allowed – fines of $40 and $10. 

“There seems to be a few things wrong with the Gambling Law,” Magistrate Valdis Foldats said Tuesday while dealing with defendant Delroy Anthony Briscoe. Briscoe, 42, admitted selling lottery tickets on Feb. 13 and being in possession of lottery tickets. 

Crown counsel Candia James said police received information and as a result went to an area on Eastern Avenue. An officer observed Briscoe leaning against a wall and dropping an object over it. The officer retrieved the object, which turned out to be a receipt book. 

Questioned about his activity, Briscoe replied, “I’m just doing my thing. I got kids to send to college.”  

He admitted being at that location to sell numbers. He was found to have $173 on his person but said it was not all from selling. He maintained that he had $100 when he got there. 

Ms. James said Briscoe described himself as a hustler, telling officers he would do what he had to do to get by, although he knew that numbers are illegal in Cayman. 

Briscoe told the court he had been here on a work permit for three years. He said he had five children, and he sent money home for them. 

The magistrate asked Ms. James if she were aware of any move to amend the Gambling Law. He read from the law that the penalty listed for selling lottery tickets is $40, with no ability to put anybody in custody. The only mention was two months in prison if the fine were not paid. 

He noted the cost of police work, prosecuting, and coming to court and questioned whether there was an error in drafting the law. He also pointed out that there did not seem to be any provision for forfeiting the money found on Briscoe unless he had been found in a “common gaming house.”  

“You may want to make my comments known, given the punishments that are available,” he told Ms. James. She indicated she would pass them along. 

The Gambling Law in its present form has been in effect since a 1967 amendment to the original 1963 law. It was revised in 1996, but the revision process does not allow for changes in substance. All it can do is consolidate the main law with later amendments and make an alteration to bring the law into conformity with the circumstances of these islands. In the case of the Gambling Law, the change of circumstances was the introduction of Cayman Islands currency in the 1970s. Ten dollars was considered to be the equivalent of the 1963 fine of five pounds.