(CMR) As illegal gambling continues to be a primary focus of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) citizens are contacting Cayman Marl Road to inform us that gambling continues right under their noses even after a weekend bust.
For several weeks now CMR has received numerous tips of an illegal gambling ring on Breezy Way that has allegedly been going on for over a year. Residents in the area have contacted the police on numerous occasions and made several complaints but feel that until this weekend little was done to address the issue.
The allegation is that what started out as a few friendly dominoes games has now turned into an all night gambling tournament on the side walk of 83 Breezy Way, Airport Road – the office location of H20 water company. The location is a commercial building which houses several businesses but is also close to residential apartments. One eyewitness shared that they initially started on the south west side of the building close to a set of apartments there. However, because of noise complaints they soon moved their operations to the roadside in front another set of apartments which are in full view of the public roadway.
One informant noted that they are extremely disruptive to the entire area:
“The guys play dominoes for money from as early as 5 in the evening to the latest recorded is 3:35 a.m in the morning. They keep the money in their pockets or the domino case and can be heard saying how much they have in each other’s money. So for instance you will hear one saying, I have 1 there, two there, three there and mine is free. What that means is that the other players are indebted to him and the money they have is possibly a bill for which he has no change. If they have change, at the end of each round you see the losers handing over money to the winner. These guys bang the dominoes down hard in the wooden table they have made from the loading crate which would have been discarded. They use foul language despite young children being in the area.”
Apparently the gamblers are also parking illegally and generally causing a serious issue for residents in the area who are no longer able to rest peacefully at night. Residents are complaining that the police are simply not doing enough as on most occasions they show up and take a look at driver's licenses and then leave without checking pockets or other hidden areas for the money.
However, the police have confirmed that they made a drug bust this weekend after 9:30 pm on Friday, 14 December when they executed a search warrant at the location. Eight persons were arrested the location on suspicion of unlawful gaming and using a place as a common gaming house and over CI$3,000 was confiscated. The arrested persons, a woman age 39 of George Town, along with 7 men, ages 46, 53, and 66 of Bodden Town, and 39, 42, 47, and 54 of George Town, have been granted bail as investigations continue.
However, However, CMR is reliably informed that not long after the arrest gamblers were back at the location continuing with the illegal activity.
“You can imagine that less than 24-hours after their arrest they are back at the same spot and still gambling in plain sight. The police have got to do a better job at monitoring these locals. From what has been observed most of these gamblers are Jamaicans here on work permits – perhaps they need to start deporting them for this offense.”
The RCIPS continues to struggle with gambling offenses as legislators recently delayed proposed discussions to increase the penalties for gambling offenses which was to happen last month. According to the Attorney General, Sam Bulgin, current gambling laws have not been updated in 50 years. In a press release, government asserts that:
“the current penalties are woefully inadequate and fail to reflect the present ramifications of illegal gambling.”
Despite that the Gambling (Amendments) Bill was scheduled to be heard at the most recent session of the Legislative Assembly but was pulled at the last minute by legislators.
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.