Clampdown coming on illegal ‘numbers’ racket

| 25/10/2018 | 53 Comments

illegal 'numbers', Cayman News Service(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government posted a flurry of legislation to its Gazettes website Wednesday, ahead of next month’s Legislative Assembly meeting, including a bill that will increase the penalties for illegal gambling, as the authorities move to clamp down on a growing problem that fuels other crimes. Although the bill provides for heavier punishments for those running illegal ‘numbers’ rackets, gamblers, many whom suffer from addiction, will also face a hefty punishment, despite government’s acknowledgement that it is a “chronic problem”. 

The Gambling (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which is now open for final public consultation before the LA debate in November, increases the penalties for engaging in acts of illegal gambling and allows government to seize assets under the Proceeds of Crime Law for those convicted.

The bill provides for an increase in fines for those convicted of running gambling rings from $400 to a whopping $10,000, and for the term of imprisonment to increase from one year to three years. Meanwhile, gamblers will also see the current $10 fine leap to $2,500 or a possible six-month jail term.

In a press release about the legislative clampdown, government said the aim was to make the penalties more of a deterrent.

“While illegal gambling has been a chronic problem in the Cayman Islands, the penalties have not undergone a revision since the first enactment of the Gambling Law in 1964. As such, in today’s climate, they do not properly reflect the gravity of this type of illegal activity,” officials said.

Government believes that, given the profit illegal ‘numbers’ can generate, the current penalties have not been “persuasive enough to serve as a deterrent to past and would-be offenders”, which is said to have caused a problem for law enforcement.

“Police intelligence reports between 2015 and 2018 show that there has been a steady increase in the number of incidents involving persons engaged in different forms of illegal gambling activities. This includes what is colloquially referred to as ‘numbers’ or lottery,” officials stated. “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.”

Given the perceived link between underground gambling and other crimes, government said it “would be prudent to generally impose higher penalties for engaging in any form of illegal gambling”.

Officials also hope the stiffer fines will deter people from allowing their premises to be used to facilitate any type of illegal gambling.

Cabinet has also approved amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Law to identify specified offences under the Gambling Law as criminal lifestyle offences, enabling the government to seize assets of the racketeers. “By so doing, government recognises that the illegal gains derived from gambling can be used to support a criminal lifestyle from which a defendant may benefit,” officials stated.

However, government has made no move to address the issue of online gambling, which is now extremely common and believed to be where most Caymanians and residents spend the bulk of their gambling money. It is not clear if anyone found gambling online could be charged under this new legislation.

The decision to focus on the illegal local numbers games, which are usually based on national lotteries in countries like Jamaica and Honduras, was made because it is at least possible to find those organising the collection and payment of cash, which is often conducted at local stores, in or around bars, or in private homes.

Over the years, the question of introducing a legal national lottery to fund good causes has been debated on and off by politicians. The PPM has consistently opposed the idea of paving the way for legal gambling while the CDP, formerly UDP, has always been less opposed, not least as a result of the leader’s enjoyment of casinos when he is overseas.

The 2009-2012 UDP administration considered the possibility of legalising some form of gambling and even suggested it would hold a referendum on the topic. Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller has on numerous occasions voiced his support for a legal national lottery.

See the Gambling (Amendment) Bill in the CNS Library

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Category: Crime, Crime Prevention, Laws, Politics

Comments (53)

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  1. Jazor says:

    Everyone in here defending this is probably involved in some way. You guys clearly don’t know much about this issue and how it affects the economy or anything especially when you see exactly they kind of people running these things.

    I hope every single person in the numbers ring is round up and jailed!

  2. De Bagman says:

    Keeping the poor poorer and dependent and addicted to their Social welfare system keeps the voters in line and their political manipulation strategy intact. Sounds like alden and his cohorts are taking lesson from Bababushka play book.

  3. Ironside says:

    New laws are being made to clamp down harder and scare and attempt to reduce this form of gambling.

    Why you ask? Because when the government moves to introduce legalised gambling/lottery they don’t want much competition or side action. So a deterrent are heavier fines and/or jail time.

    Mark my words, legalised gambling in one form or another is coming and by the time it gets here, those gamblers that have been deterred with the above new anti-gambling laws will be doubly eager to get back in the game, so to speak.

  4. Elvis again says:

    I sometimes get confused , no gambling etc etc yet they sell raffle tickets to win cars and prizes outside Hurley’s, kirks, fosters etc etc etc , hmmmmmm m

  5. Anonymous says:

    start with politicians!????

  6. Bertie : B says:

    All the stock markets around the world including Cayman are nothing but huge casinos !

  7. Al Catraz says:

    I would like to applaud CNS for covering this issue.

    Just last week CNS reported:

    “A 54-year-old man from Bodden Town, a 35-year-old woman from George Town and four men from George Town aged 48, 55, 57, and 62 were all rounded up after the raid…”

    Those were MY numbers and I won CI$5000.

  8. Anonymous says:

    ….. instead of considering a National Lottery program and creating a new legal revenue stream! Add more laws for the already stretched RCIP and Courts to enforce!

    Morons in charge!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Just about everytime that I go to the Supermarkets there is someone by the door selling tickets. Isnt that a gamble. Then we have some in Legal positions who would dare not ruin ther name to buy a number in Cayman but travels extensively to Las Vegas and to the Bahamas to gamble. Vow teapot cursing kettle….. Could we not impose fines for those men who stand by the side of the road and pee, this is most tiring. Also I say to myself that Poor Mr Jay must be turning over in the grave to see how some people litter along the road side especially on the Spotts back road. All sort oof stuff is thrown on the lawn then some of those people get jobs to to clean the road side. What a mess!

  10. nauticalone says:

    Better try to crack down on all the litter piling up everywhere.

  11. Anonymous says:

    In today’s climate, more and more laws here in Cayman do not properly reflect reality. SMH.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Yawn, more laws never to be enforced.

  13. Anonymous says:


  14. Anonymous says:

    Online gambling is effectively an out-of-country activity. So I cannot see how to could be regulated in-country. Otherwise the law would have to restrict “Caymanian” persons from physically visiting gambling establishments and participating in the games when in another country. Pretty silly.
    Now running a gambling website in-country is another matter.
    Suggestion: legalize gambling in hotels for guests only. Then if a local resident can afford to book a room they can afford to gamble.

    • The Gambler says:

      That is similar to how Gibraltar does it: there is one casino but you have to have a membership issued by a hotel to get in.

  15. Anonymous says:

    no more pat’s on a Sunday morning 🙁

    • Anonymous says:

      Well at least one idiot patron is locked up for a bit. Until they let her out again.

      • Nofunnowhuh says:

        I sell numbers an regardless if its illegal or not. Those who try rob us is the real criminals. We dont force anyone to buy from us. Its all just a game people play. These young boys around here running around trying to rob us for what? Cause you too lazy work? U can pick up n do the same as we if u want to make decent money to support your bills

  16. CB4 says:

    Well According to our Unity govt, anything if even slightly mentioned by our MLAs when they were running for election is considered a mandate. So then the people voted for gambling when Mac and Capt E got in!!!

  17. Concerned Citizen says:

    Something has to be done. Because this same gaming seems to be linked with illegal drugs! Those who support them don’t know where the money is coming from and being used for.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Talk about backwards…still want ships in port longer? Lol. Boy I tell you, the rope we walkin on shaffing fast. God bless us all.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Guess what, there will be a national lottery.

  20. Elvis says:

    Can’t we ya e a legal lotto? Just like UK, USA?
    It would generate so much money for projects.
    All we need is someone like myself to account all the cash generated or it will no doubt end up in someone’s home extension going of past evidence

  21. Anonymous says:

    What a joke. This is a smokescreen to protect the big fish from the smaller fish who have been cutting in on their business. Everyone knows who is selling numbers. Let’s see which ones actually get caught.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well said. In the Brac we especially know who is selling numbers and who is buying. If there was no corruption and they were being arrested and charged we would have plenty vacancies in the civil service

  22. Anonymous says:

    Policing online gambling is next to impossible. Anyone can subscribe to VPN websites. So,it would be best CIG to not even attempt. Do you hear me CIG? Don’t waste the countries resources. Thank you.

    As it relates to local gambling, CIG will spend a lot of resources only to fail in the end. Dominoes, cards, ludi/ludo game, bingo, raffles annnd lottery…Gambling is ingrained in Caribbean culture and it’s never going to change.

    Bahamas (in the past) took the same stance CIG has taken now. Amm…Bahamas failed miserably. CIG did you know this? However, The Bahamian Govt had a “Eureka” moment and realized that legalizing, and regulating was the answer. CIG when will your “Eureka” moment come?

    Obviously, we think we are smarter than the Bahamians, and the Americans (you could draw a parallel with the era of prohibition). If you can’t find a parallel, ask why there are so many lotteries, in so many States across the US.

    Hmm..this is becoming tiring…UK have lotteries, Europe, Asia…on,and on it goes.

    CIG, you claim to be a progressive government. Then get with the policies of the progressive world, and stop taken directives from the few people that sit on the church benches every Sunday buying their shares in Heaven. Isn’t that gambling?

    The End.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard is right! National Lottery! Why does everything in Cayman have to be like pulling teeth, while stuck in quicksand?

  24. Anonymous says:

    How hypocritical. How many of our “Christian” leaders don’t frequent the casinos of Vegas, Bahamas, Cuba and the list goes on, on a regular basis to gamble. Come on people the addiction problem is no worse that the Alcohol one we now have, but that is still legal.
    Legalize it and just maybe if Government used the brains God gave them, the proceeds from it can go to improving our schools and programs to help the addicted. You never know it may also help with Governments Debt.

    • Anonymous says:

      Brains that God gave them? They won that in a domino game. Somebody still holding the key card. Only they that have God in their heart will use that key.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mac. All the time. He was in Canada at one this year!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Just motivated me to buy more Power Ball tickets!

  26. Anonymous says:

    make sure you clamp down on all the church raffles too!

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe we should start a National Lottery and call it the National Raffle so the churches will be okay with it?

    • Anonymous says:

      All raffles.

    • Anonymous says:

      A to the men!!!! Gambling is gambling regardless who’s involved or doing it, service clubs, church, banks, gas stations and the list goes on!!!

  27. Anonymous says:

    waste of time trying to tell/control what grown adults can do with their own money.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately, most grown adults addicted to gambling lack the restraint and intelligence for knowing when to quit without losing their shirt. So many deadbeats here would rather blow their last $ on vices before taking care of their family. The Bahamas model does not allow locals to gamble yet it provides significant revenue to government. Something like the Bahamas model would be best here if it does happen.

      • Mike says:

        You 3.34 pm sound like preaching. Do you actually know how many gamble, and how many are addicted as you imply. I suggest you base your argument on actual facts, not what gets into your head when you put on that best suit and congregate with those people who are mostly hypochrites!

    • Anonymous says:

      Also, a “grown adult” cannot use his:her money to bribe a public officer, pay for a murder to be committed, pay prostitutes, buy illegal drugs, and so that on.

      Numbnut @ 1:14pm!

      • Anonymous says:

        Like the original poster said, you cannot tell anyone what to do with their own money!

        Whether, it’s buying booze, raffle tickets or buying FRONT!

        It’s your money, spend it how you like….or else you’re just extorting the people aren’t you!

  28. Anonymous says:

    This is really what the f@#% our Government is worried about?!? What a waste of time, effort and energy to “try” putting a stop to something that can’t be stopped. People will still sell numbers and people will continue to buy it. So many big fish to fry and they focus on the sprat.

  29. anon says:

    There goes half the police force lol

  30. Anonymous says:

    Meanwhile, every school pta, church assembly, charity group, and fraternal organization offers “raffle tickets for a chance to win…”. Dozens of pyramid marketing schemes also running with impunity…not much difference between those and “numbers” lottos.

  31. Numbers player says:

    So it’s time then to crack down on all the charity raffles, blind auctions then.
    Or MAYBE
    it’s time for government to look at legalising gambling, having their on lottery, casino and scratch cards in Gas statuons.

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