Lawmakers are set to consider major increases to penalties for running or participating in illegal gambling in the next Legislative Assembly meeting.
Under the Gambling (Amendment) Bill 2018, fines for the use and ownership of premises for gambling, the publication of lottery numbers and dealing with money resulting from gambling activities would increase from $400 to $10,000, and the maximum prison sentence would increase from one year to three years.
The legislation also stipulates that fines for taking part in a public lottery, known as numbers, or playing or being found in a gaming house would increase from $10 to $2,500 and the maximum prison term upon conviction would rise from two months to six months.
Penalties for illegal gambling have not been revised since the first enactment of the Gambling Law in 1964.
According to a press release from the Portfolio of Legal Affairs, Royal Cayman Islands Police Service statistics from 2015 to 2018 show a steady increase in the number of incidents involving people engaged in gambling.
“These statistics also suggest a strong connection between certain crimes and gambling activities. This is evidenced by the number of reported robberies, including firearm-related robberies, assaults and other violent crimes that have been proven to be gambling related,” the release stated.
The bill suggests tougher penalties to offenses involving ownership or control or properties in which illegal gambling is conducted as opposed to possession of tickets related to gambling. That disparity is meant to deter ownership, establishment or occupation of properties which would be used to facilitate the participation in illegal gambling of any kind.
A number of other penalties would also be increased under the proposed amendments. For example, penalties for being found gambling or betting in licensed premises increase from a $10 fine to $2,500, and the term of imprisonment increases from two months to six months.
The fine for using a place for gambling without permission increases from $10 to $5,000 and prison term increases from two months to one year.
Penalties for refusing to demolish a place erected or constructed for gambling include an increased fine – from $10 to $5,000, and the prison term increases from two months to one year. The proposed legislation also provides for the increase of the fine from $2 to $100 for each day there is non-compliance with the legislation.
The fine for failure by a person to prove that he or she was not in possession of a lottery ticket increases from $20 to $2,500 and the prison term increases from three months to six months.
Penalties for keeping a common gaming house increase from a $100 fine to a $20,000 fine and a term of imprisonment increases from six months to three years.
Those found guilty of conducting or taking part in a lottery will face an increased fine of $20,000 compared to the current $100 fine, and the term of imprisonment increases from two months to three years.
Another amendment to the legislation includes an increase in penalties for any gambling activity involving selling tickets, assembling for lottery results or paying for lottery tickets, from a fine of $40 to $5,000, and a term of imprisonment to increase from two months to one year.