Finance Minister Colm Imbert moves the motion for the second reading of the Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Control Bill, 2021, in the Senate on Friday. Debate on the bill continues today.

Cheating could cost you big – $1 million in a worst-case scenario – under the bill to regulate and control the betting and gaming sector.

The Gambling (Gaming and Betting) Control Bill, 2021 was piloted in the Senate last Friday by Finance Minister Colm Imbert. The debate continues today.

Penalties for some violations range from criminal fines of $500,00o (plus jail time) to $10 million (plus jail). Gaming table tax ranges from a low of $24,000 (slot machine) to $150,000 (Sip Sam machine).

However, under the bill, the proposed Gambling Commission to supervise the industry may, with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions, issue to culprits a notice offering the opportunity to dispense with any liability to conviction in respect of that offence, by payment of an administrative fine specified for the offence. That fine is a smaller sum than the criminal penalty.

Where a person is given a notice on this, criminal proceedings shall not be taken against them until the expiration of 21 days. Where a person fails to pay the administrative fine, or where they pay the administrative fine but continue committing the offence, they’re liable on conviction for the offence committed.

Cheaters are liable, on summary conviction, to a $1m fine and five years’ imprisonment and conviction on indictment to a $2m fine and seven years’ jail.

The clause on cheating (74) carries 16 sections. Sections cover cheating at any gambling activity and not aiding/abetting or conspiring to cheat in any gambling activity.

Other aspects include altering or misrepresenting the outcome of a game or other event on which wagers are made before it’s revealed to players; manipulating, with the intent to cheat, using fraud, trick or sleight of hand performance, marking equipment, using counterfeit gambling instruments or using tampered with equipment.

A $5m fine, plus five years’ jail, is in order for unlicenced violations – gambling on premises, operating as a bookmaker/ promoter; manufacturing, assembling, testing or programming gambling machines, importing them or providing facilities for gambling. On conviction on indictment, the fine rises to $10m and ten years’ jail.

A licensee conducting gambling contrary to the terms of their licence and who fails to place licences in a conspicuous place on the premises, is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $500,000 and five years’ jail, or conviction on indictment to a $3m fine and seven years’ jail.