Cayman Islands lawmakers move to review the nation’s gambling law more than 50 years after it was last amended
The proposed review of the Cayman Islands’ existing gambling law has been stalled as lawmakers are looking to inspect additional aspects of that law and propose further changes, local news outlet the Cayman News Service reported on Monday.
Legislators introduced in October the Gambling (Amendment) Bill 2018, a legislative piece aiming to roll out further restrictions and tougher penalties for those who provide or engage in illegal gambling activities. Under the proposed legislation, fines for the ownership or use of illegal gambling premises, the publication of lottery numbers, and handling proceeds from gambling activities would increase from $400 to a whooping $10,000. In addition, prison term for violators would increase from one to three years.
The penalty for people who are caught gambling would leap from $10 to $2,500 and they could face up to six months in jail. It is important to note that gambling is illegal under Cayman Islands law. That law was last amended in the 1960s.
The amendment bill was introduced at the end of October and was supposed to be reviewed by the General Assembly last month. However, the piece of legislation did not end up in the legislature’s order paper. Local media outlets reported that lawmakers have revealed they were looking to amend other provisions in the existing law in addition to the proposed increased penalties.
Cayman Islands Attorney General Samuel Belgin has said in a recent statement that the government was looking further into the nation’s gambling law with a view to introduce more changes. The official has not specified what these changes would involve.
Lawmaker Slams Proposed Penalties
While it is yet to be seen what other amendments the government would look to introduce, a key lawmaker voiced criticism over the proposed increased penalties. Opposition leader Ezzard Miller said last month that the proposed amendments were “draconian” and attempted to “find a solution for the wrong problem.”
Mr. Miller went on to say that the global and national gambling landscape has changed drastically since 1964 when the gambling law was last amended and that a lot of Cayman Islands residents are now gambling online or playing various US lotteries.
According to the politician, the government should adopt a different approach in dealing with illegal gambling than looking to crack down on something that is hard to police. Mr. Miller said he believes those members of society who can least afford it would turn into the main target of the crackdown.
The opposition leader instead proposed the legalization, regulation, and taxation of lotteries, stating that the activity is already quite popular around the nation, with local stores, gas stations, and even barber shops selling lottery tickets illegally. Mr. Miller said a 30% tax rate would be reasonable enough and would provide revenue for different good causes.
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