Gambling Law changes will allow cruise ship registration

Proposed changes to the Gambling Law, which go before the Legislative Assembly this week, are designed to allow cruise ships to be registered in the Cayman Islands.

The amendments permit gambling on board Cayman Islands-registered ships, as long as they are on an international voyage.

Gambling is still not allowed in Cayman waters, even for cruise ships, which typically have casinos on board.

“The sole purpose is to enhance the Shipping Registry’s ability to register cruise ships. What we are doing is defining a passenger ship in the Gambling Law so we can register a cruise ship which has gambling on board,” said Minister for Commerce Wayne Panton.

A Cayman Islands-registered ship is subject to Cayman Islands law anywhere in the world, so the Gambling Law would apply.

Mr. Panton said the changes would not facilitate any kind of ocean-going gambling businesses operating from Cayman.

“The law allows gambling if they are 12 miles out to sea and on an international voyage. They have to be going to an overseas port. That would exclude that type of scenario. The aim is solely to facilitate the shipping registry in marketing its services to cruise lines.”

He added that “Cayman’s legislation will continue to ban all forms of gambling within the Cayman Islands, including on local commercial and recreational vessels.”

Sian Pairaudeau, head of business development and corporate communications at the Cayman Islands Shipping Registry, said she could not comment on the specific advantage to Cayman of having cruise ships registered here.

She said the territory ias ranked in the top 13 jurisdictions in the world in the International Chamber of Shipping’s annual Flag State Performance Table and continues to promote itself to the maritime industry generally.

The bulk of U.S. cruise ships and commercial vessels are registered in foreign ports under what is known as “flags of convenience,” meaning they are subject to the licensing regulations and associated fees of that country.


  1. How many times have you looked out over the water at about 5 pm and seen cruise ships churning the waters on their route away from Grand Cayman to their next international port-of-call? There are hours of sunlight left during which those cruise ship passengers could be enjoying Cayman hospitality. Many had to leave their on-shore destinations hours before their ship raised anchor so they, and Cayman businesses, were deprived of their time, and money, spent ashore. Why would the ships cut short their stay and leave so early? Simply put, local laws do not allow the ships to open their casinos while in Cayman waters, even though only cruise ship passengers could gamble there. So away they go. What local interest is being protected by this restriction? No Cayman resident could spend their time and money gambling on the ship. How do Caymanians benefit from sending these ships away prematurely? They don’t. How long before this archaic law is changed?

  2. Why do Government think that changing the gambling law for only the cruise ships would be incentive to register ship in the Cayman Islands and make them want to continue to keep coming to the Cayman Islands. I think that gambling in the Cayman Islands would be making the Islands more of a undesirable vacation/cruise ship destination. We all know that crime comes with gambling. What we don’t have enough crime on a small island yet? Why not do something like a national lottery that could benefit scholarships, schools, and the people, and government.

  3. @ Mr Newton, are you suggesting that if Cayman had gambling laws, that would make the ships stay longer. Have you ever heard of a ship to have a schedule? Or their own interest, and don”t need you or the gambling laws of the Port they are visiting. The cruise ship just have to have ports to stop at to sell their cruise. Who would want to stay on a ship for 6 or 7 day and only see the water that is around the ship, and do only what to do on the ship.

  4. Mr. Ebanks, since you asked–yes, the cruise ships would stay longer in port if they did not have to leave to open their casinos. The casinos are profit centers that make no money for the cruise ship companies when they are closed. The ship’s schedule takes into account the need to get the casino open and has additional time at sea built in to maximize the profit center. They do not leave because they have just enough time to get to the next port. If the ship could stay in port another three hours, for example, while a ship has its casino open, the profit center would be performing while sitting in port, non-gambling passengers could get their extra time ashore and the ship would still have plenty of time built into the cruise schedule to get to the next port on time. A win all around for the cruise company, the gambling passengers, the non-gambling passengers and Cayman businesses.