Two people were ordered this week to pay $300 each in fines and costs after pleading guilty to unlawful gaming.
Venceroy Evarton Bernard, 43, and Monique Gooden, 27, were charged after an incident in West Bay on April 13, 2018. They admitted to the offense, but denied keeping or using a place as a common gaming house.
On Tuesday, Crown counsel Scott Wainwright confirmed that no evidence was being offered on this second charge, so Magistrate Valdis Foldats proceeded to sentence.
Mr. Wainwight said police received information that illegal gambling was taking place in a certain area. Around 9 a.m., they attended the scene and saw someone run inside a house. On gaining entry, the officers saw receipt books and other items related to gambling.
Mr. Bernard had approximately $300, but said it was for legitimate use. There was other cash at the premises, but the Crown accepted the pleas to illegal gaming.
Defense attorney John Furniss advised the court that neither defendant had any previous convictions and Ms. Gooden had entered her pleas relatively early.
The magistrate noted that the maximum fine for unlawful gaming is $400. Anecdotally, it seemed the court was getting more and more of these cases, he remarked, so the court had to send a message. “But that is hard to do when the maximum is $400,” he observed.
For that reason, he added a cost order.
Taking into account the guilty pleas, he reduced each fine to $200 or 20 days in lieu of payment. He then imposed a cost order of $100 or 10 days.
The magistrate commented that the Director of Public Prosecutions might wish to suggest to the Attorney General that the maximum fine could be changed in the law and there could be amendments that would give the courts more options.
Mr. Furniss pointed out that the fine used to be 10 pounds sterling until that sum got updated some years ago.
The Gambling (Amendment) Bill was scheduled for consideration in the Legislative Assembly in 2018. Proposals included increased fines for a number of offenses to $10,000 and terms of imprisonment to three years. In late November, however, it was announced that government was postponing the matter.