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Gambling, and Liquor Licensing, Bills Seek LA Approval Published October 14th, 2015, 8:10 pm

The Ministry of Financial Services, Commerce and Environment is sending two bills – one regarding gambling in the cruise ship industry, and one relating to the licensing of liquor vendors – for debate in the Legislative Assembly this month. 

The Gambling (Amendment) Bill 2015 and The Liquor Licensing (Amendment) Bill 2015 are expected to be debated during the third sitting of the 2015-2016 session for the Legislative Assembly. The third sitting starts on Wednesday, 14 October.

The Gambling (Amendment) Bill 2015 would allow gambling on cruise vessels if they are: (1) registered in the Cayman Islands under a contract of carriage from a major cruise carrier; (2) passenger ships, carrying more than 12 people; and (3) in international waters and on an international voyage between Cayman and another port of call. The bill also clarifies that gambling is not permitted on any vessel while it is in port in the Cayman Islands or in Cayman’s territorial waters.

Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton said the amendment will not affect local vessels.

‘This bill is aimed solely at the cruise ship industry’, Minister Panton said. ‘Cayman’s legislation will continue to ban all forms of gambling within the Cayman Islands, including on local commercial and recreational vessels’.

For liquor licensing, the bill would modify the current licensing procedure by seeking to remove the requirement to lift the current moratorium, in order for the Liquor Licensing Board to grant new liquor licences. The board also can establish moratoria on licensing grants for such periods as Cabinet may stipulate.

Furthermore, the bill adds an obligation under the Liquor Licensing Law (2000 Revision) whereby every liquor licence holder must also possess a valid trade and business licence.

In addition, the bill proposes to change the constitution of the Liquor Licensing Board. In Grand Cayman, the board would double from five to ten members, with representatives from the Department of Commerce and Investment, the Department of Planning and the Department of Environmental Health. For the Sister Islands, there would be an increase from five to eight members.

All Liquor Licensing Board meetings would remain open to the public; however board members would now be able to attend via teleconference or other electronic means if they cannot attend in person.

Minister Panton said addressing the procedure for granting new licences would mitigate current practices with regard to the leasing of licences.

‘We have seen where the moratorium has allowed current licence holders to “rent” their licences to others for large amounts’, he said. ‘This bill proposes the elimination of that practice, by tying licences to businesses through the Trade and Business Licensing Law. Therefore, if a business ceases its operations, its liquor licence also becomes void’.

The bill also seeks to remove the requirement that licensed premises remain open for the duration of the hours specified on individual licences; states that liquor can only be sold by the trade and business licence holder; and calls for trade officers, at the request of the liquor licensing board, to inspect licensed premises and report whether the premises are being used in accordance with their licences.

Upon the amendment’s passage and enactment, the penalty for noncompliance with the Liquor Licensing Law would be a maximum fine of up to $10,000 upon summary conviction.

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