Talk show host fails to make referendum goal

| 18/04/2010

(CNS): Former government minister and current talk show host Gilbert McLean has only managed to collect 468 signatures on his petition for a national lottery in the Cayman Islands. McLean had originally said he wanted to collect enough names to trigger the country’s first ever people led referendum. However, the Rooster morning talk show host fell far short of that goal by several thousand names. Instead McLean has handed in the petition to government in the hopes of encouraging it to consider introducing a lottery based on the one held in Florida.

The talk show host told Cayman 27 that he had been collecting signatures for the petition for six months. McLean first spoke with CNS about the lottery when he began the petition at the beginning of October last year. He said he hoped to present a petition to government requesting a referendum for a lottery to raise revenue for government and redirect the money which is currently illegally spent on numbers here in Cayman. 
McLean said at the time that a formal survey authorized by government around ten years ago, which included the private sector, estimated that illegal “numbers” gaming produced almost one million dollars per week, and some believe it might reasonably have doubled by now.
To have forced government to create a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ ballot McLean needed  almost 3,500 signatures from registered voters which have not materialized and it will now be up to government whether it decides to hold a referendum on the subject.  
McLean said on Friday that McKeeva Bush had the opportunity to take his petition forward and see what the referendum revealed. The Premier had previously said he would be happy for the public to vote on the issue through a special referendum but with little evidence of support he is unlikely to risk alienating the churches with a ballot who have vehemently opposed the idea.
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  1. Anonymous says:

    Actually she’s not that far off at all.  Remember BT doesn’t run from one end of Bodden Town Road to the other – its a huge district – and being from that district I can tell you that we do have literally hundreds, if not a thousand or so people playing the numbers game. 

  2. Perspective says:

    Whatever the pros and cons are of a lottery this is not the type of issue that should waste time and resources with a referendum.  It is a simple legislative issue.  Let’s keep referenda for the important constitutional matters – look at the mess in California where every ballot has umpteen Propositions.

    The lottery is not that important. 

  3. Anonymous says:

    I want to sign…   get the lotto.  the govt and its people would benefit greatly fromt his!  

  4. Anonymous says:

    Legislators should make "numbers" legal or increase the penalties for those who break the laws.  I would buy numbers if it was legal, but I don’t buy it because I try to be a law abiding citizen.  Increase the penalties for anyone who is found guilty of dealing with numbers.  Seize the assets of of the big fish who have become millionaires by the numbers game and sell the assets and use the proceeds to assist the Children and Family Services.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Why is it that so many people over look the negative impacts of a national lottery, or any form of gambling for that matter. For one, this can lead to people becoming additicted to gambling, and this may also cause serious financial strains and problems for families (just think of how hard it is now a days for some people to make ends meet).

    Yes, you may want to argue that winning the lottery could help people out of financial difficulty. But look at the statistics, what are the chances of actually winning in any lottery, and how much does one have to lose before getting a single win. And even if it is already happening, making something legal is not the solution, nor will  it make it right for that matter. Is this going to be our solution to everything that goes on in our society whether it is right or wrong, to just make it all legal…….

  6. Want to be Legal Lotto Player says:

    A report was sent to Government about 8 years ago that indicated the majority of persons living in the Cayman Islands actually support the idea. That report also indicated that upwards to $1,000,000 PER WEEK went in the “Numbers” game. That did not include the folks who were playing the Florida Lottery and were betting on Sports. So those that doubt the financial viability need to have Government release that report.

    The only reason this has not become a reality is that the churches put pressure on the Premier to not go with it. As if their ‘raffles’ do not amount to a “game of chance” other words betting!

    I ask the Government to set up a New Committee immediately to recommend THE PROCESS for setting up and implementing the lottery within 6 months. To have one is logical. Mr. Premier, there is absolutely no political fall out from this one..Just do not personally buy any if you believe your Christian faith does not allow it. Freedom of Choice. More people will buy the lottery than would normally vote for UDP anyhow.

    Sports, Culture, Faith-based Organizations, Children and District services, the Arts, Education etc will all eventually thank you for your foresight!!

  7. Dr.S.K.Mohanty says:

    Let us start all over with the petition in a more accessible manner.

     Cant do any harm any way you look at it- so let us try it out !

    I agree -with one condition- that all proceeds are earmarked for Education and not one red cent goes into general revenue !

  8. You make me feel like a Sweepstakes winner says:

    I think a lottery is a damn good idea.  So what if you don’t become mega-rich. As long as the ticket proceeds are used for specific social projects, and absolutely not put into General Revenue.  Where it will be wasted and disappear in the blink of an eye.

  9. Anonymous says:

    It is pointless calling a referendum anyway, because only the Caymanians could actually vote in it, so the thousands of expats that would be the majority customers of any lottery would not have a say.

    That is why he has so few signatures, that and the fact nobody knew about it!

    • Anonymous says:

      I guess I was on Mars because I heard about this but never knew how to sign up.  Count me in.  Is it too late?  Better for us to have a lottery then to let the people selling numbers make all the profits for Honduras and Jamaica.  Come on people, Cayman needs the money and at least it would be made legally.  The holy rollers that don’t like it then don’t buy it!

    • Anonymous says:

      At the end of the day yes it is only the Caymanians who can and should be allowed to vote in any referendum. Since it will be the Caymanians, and their society which would be affected by any such changes.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Folks this is a no-brainer. Put the lottery in place, make sure the proceeds arent used in CIG general fund, in other words make sure they are used towards, education, social programs, roads, etc. Then you got yourself a winner.

    Gilbert, i’m a little disappointed in the way you handeled this peteition- half ass! do it again and this time with some conviction as if you were in the LA working for the people.

  11. Anonymous says:

     The lack of signatures is by know means a true representation of the public’s opinion on the implementation of a local lottery (Just like the assumption that everyone is a church supporter).

    I personally know individuals that have won over 100K and been paid it in cash the day after in the local lottery. The government is at a lost about the dollar value of this trade.

    Get in the "know", and you will really "know".


  12. Anonymous says:

    Where is this petition and how can I sign?  I wouldn’t give up – just widen your reach.

  13. Anonymous says:

    How was this petition advertised? Solely on Rooster?  If so, not a good move… I would like to sign at, as I suspect, do many others.  It should have been more widely distributed and organized and I am sure it would have gained tremendous support.  I never knew there was a petition out there lemmi sign it!  Someone should have been stood at the supermarkets and stores; bus depots; Thompson’s Building; Post Office, Caymana Bay and all prominent locations to obtain signatures.  Hundreds of missed opportunities.

    Many Caribbean countries including Barbados, Trinidad, Jamaica, and Guyana have national lotteries. The Barbados lotto was started in 1990. In its first year of operation, it made a profit of $5 million and paid out $25 million in winnings to local participants.

    • Adam Smith says:

      But Barbados has 6 times the population of Cayman.  With the fixed running costs, by your figures show the most that wecould expect to make is about $500,000.  And the monies will come from the poorest in Cayman – a lottery is an exceptionally inefficient and highly regressive form of taxation.

      • Anonymous says:

        If the lottery was restricted to Caymanians then I suspect you’d be right.  So why not open it to all and sundry – tourists, guest workers, etc. and let them pour money into the economy too?  I know plenty people in the states who buy into Caribbean lotteries because of the better odds of winning… and none of them are what I would call ‘poor’.  Income generated could be donated to educational or sports facilities or projects for the needy.  I read somewhere that by 2004 the Jamaican lottery had generated US$40 million towards educational and sports projects.  Surely a little something is better than nothing… and better putting money into Cayman’s economy than the current illegal lotteries that thrive so well here.

      • Anonymous says:

        would that be the same "poorest in Cayman" who are already spending their money on the illegal lottery? 

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree – first I’ve heard of a petition, but then again, I’m not a REAL Caymanian so probably wouldn’t count.

  14. superman says:

    way to lead by example gilbert!  aim high – should you not succeed, just give up – and expect the same result as if you had succeeded!  now that’s a valuable lesson that every caymanian child can take home!

  15. Twyla Vargas says:

    I am suprised, because we have at least one thousand people in the district of Bodden Town alone, that buys lottery thee times a day every night and on sundays.

    • Anonymous says:

      Rubbish. Yes a lot of people do lottery but that is an over estimate by a long long way.

      If we started a lottery, even if everyone on the island did it and paid 5 dollars a week that would only earn 250,000 gross. Jackpot is about 10% of gross, because of the smaller prizes, so so maybe $25,000 assuming every single person on the island did it. Realistically maybe a third would do it, so that would mean a jackpot of maybe $7,000. That’s not exactly life changing and I think people will stick to the florida lottery where a win can change your life not just pay their CUC bill for a week.

      • Anonymous says:

         What you have illustrated is a "play on numbers" in your closed theory.

        The reality is that every day people are winning lots more than this in any of the 3 lotteries played in Cayman. Bold and fortunate individuals have won very large sums in many instances.

        If you won 250K they would deliver this to you the day after. The reliability of winners being paid is what keeps the illegal local lottery thriving.

        I suggest you do some research then rebuild your theory.


  16. Waste of time says:

    What a stupid idea a lottery is in Cayman.  As a matter of behavioural economics a lottery needs to trigger jackpot attraction ie a a jackpot of such magnitude that its life changing effects would overcome the fact that the odds against winning make buying a ticket a terrible economic decision (the odds have to be bad if the state is going to take out any revenue from the process).  And jackpots need large numbers of buyers to make the leveraging work.  So Cayman can never compete with the available international lotteries and the plan would never raise significant sums for government.  NEVER.

    Forget this stupid idea.


    • Anonymous says:

      If it is such a stupid idea why do you explain why so many thousands of individuals participate in the "black market" local lottery?

      A jackpot does not have to be millions of dollars to encourage participants. If this was the case millions of individuals would not buy the “scratch n’ Win” tickets that are available at almost every retail outlet in the USA. These tickets promise much smaller payouts ranging from $500 to $10,000 (not sure what is a “life changing” amount of money by your definition). Still putting forward your behavioral economic theory?

      Please allow me to provide you with some facts (not theories) about the “branded” local lotteries being played on the Island.

      Jamaican Cash Pot (played 3 times a day Mon-Sat): Payout 1 -26 (1$ wins you $26)

      Belize Lotto (played 1 time per night Mon-Fri): Payout 1-50

      Honduran Lotto (played Sunday only): Payout 1- 66

      The “Dons” of the local lottery trade are millionaires. Ask the guy next to you, he probably knows one by name. 



    • Anonymous says:

      You obviously do not have any idea of the amount of monies that are currently being poured into Central American and US lotteries from the Cayman Islands, simply because there is nothing similar here.

      A Cayman lottery (if designed with the proper safe guards in place) would do wonders for say education or other similar areas.  Government should have seen this a long time ago, but partly because of the fear of rejection and worries they may upset a few church going members have refused to do so.

      What many do not realise is that lotteries go on here every day (then again there are those of you that do, but don’t want to say anything for fear you get a knock on your door and everyone finds out you are doing it as well).  When a car raffles or a ticket receipt is placed in a box for a chance to win something, THAT IS  A LOTTERY!!  Why not use this to benefit the country in areas that is needed instead of continuing to drive the cost of living through the roof, forcing the average "Joe" to a life of crime to survive!

      Wake up and smell the filth of the dump, we can no longer live with our heads under a rock hoping things will change, we are the ones that need to make those changes!  It’s time to take the gloves off.

      The main issue and cause for lack of signatures is that as mentioned above Gilbert did not advertise this properly.  Had he done so and made it very accessible there may not have been a need for a referandom as this would have been a land slide of signatures!  Run it again Gilly, but this time go PUBLIC!



      • Roger says:

        "Why not use this to benefit the country in areas that is needed instead of continuing to drive the cost of living through the roof, forcing the average "Joe" to a life of crime to survive!"  As a regressive tax, the introduction of a lottery is likely to do more harm than good to the "average Joe".  And the money flows to foreign lotteries will continue, simply because the jackpots are not going to be high enough in Cayman.  It won’t produce any meangingful return.  It might indirectly increase crime by harming the poorest worst. 

        • Anonymous says:

          What is your definition of a meaningful return??  Buying a ticket for a car for $100???  I would think buying a ticket for a $1 and winning several thousand makes more sense.  Besides the monies from the car is going exactly where??  Have you ever seen it?  The accounts that are supposed to be audited and produced publicly have you ever seen them?  The next time you buy your next ticket or place your receipt in the grocery store box, think back to this story and ask yourself?  Hmmmm… perhaps that person may have had a point!!!!!

      • Twyla Vargas says:

        Every Tom Dick and Harry knows that Cayman Lottery is in full bloom.  Illegal yes,………… but it is out of control like wild fire.  It is impossible to stop that is for  sure.   The Jamaica Lottery is bought here three times a day, morning, noon and night, the Indian lottery is bought every day, the Phillpino lottery is bought every day, the belieze lottery is bought every night, the Honduras lottery is bought every  Sunday.  Besides people buy te USA lottery every day from Cayman.   Did/nt a Caymanian won 3 millon some time ago.  

        My reason for supporting a national lottery or something, power ball or other, is to see a slice of this pie be left on our shores too.   I know someone who is not from Cayman who won 36 thousand last week.  Another had a number on contract and won 50  thousand.   The sellers not from here and the winner not from here.   Even i f   the seller was Cayman, then we could expect some chump change.  I know Cayman cantnjust jump into this adventura, without careful planning but, good information should be obtained first.  Then spin that wheel and let the chips fall..   What you think those tourist would do on  cruise ship day?……,  Find the nearest scratch and win.   What is selling tickets for a Church cake raffel,  Whats Bingo nights at the Church Hall, What sellings tickets at the church to win the  hat show? its called a game of chance.  No different from spendnig a dollar to win 50.00

    • Not on Cayman says:

      "So Cayman can never compete with the available international lotteries…"

      That’s why you cannot win and the people in other jurisdictions do.  You think small and presume that you cannot run a lottery with international players.  Floriday presumes that is can and therefore does.  See why you fail?

      A Cayman lottery marketed globally would likely have many international players.  Sure, the winners might therefore not be in Cayman all the time, but a lottery is not about making winners in Cayman – it is about creating a steady stream of income for the Islands through the 50% (or whatever) that is retained as the earnings of the people running the lottery (i.e. the Cayman State). 

      If you presume you can’t do something, you can’t.  If you presume you will fail, you aleady have.  Your failure or success is all in your head.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why on earth would people from overseas want to play the Cayman lottery if there was one?

        Either they would do their own country’s lottery or they would choose not to at all. What would be their incentive to send money to a country that is fast becoming renowned for being on the verges of bankruptcy and sinking fast. It would be too high a risk compared to doing their own lottery at home.

        If they were outside Cayman they would likely have to wire money here to buy tickets (and thus pay considerable bank charges) and would always face the uncertainty of not knowing if their winnings could ever be paid out. The stink of corruption still hangs around Cayman and I for one would not trust any government appointed entity to fairly conduct a lottery draw where each and every entrant regardless of nationality, family connections etc had an even chance of winning.

        Be serious, what if a foreigner won the jackpot? There would be uproar and probably a huge number of obstacles to avoid before they were allowed to collect the jackpot.


        • Anonymous says:

          Same reason I guess as so many people from the states and the UK already do play Caribbean lotteries – less people playing than in their home country and therefore substantially better odds of winning.  I think you are misguided if you think nobody from other countries would be interested in playing.

        • Not on Cayman says:

          There you go, talking and thinking yourself into failure again

          Stability? Cayman has financial issues not unlike the USA and many European countries.  That is an entirely different thing than having a failed financial services sector, which Cayman certainly does not have.  Cayman is one of the most stable financial players on earth, and an international lottery can easily be run to the same standards.  Ditto for the justice system to enforce any claims or rules as need be. 

          [If you wereto let 2 or 3 of the local "dudes" have control, you would have issues, but who would do that?  Think positive.]

          Why play?  Fun, winning, all the usual reasons people gamble.  Why Cayman?  Why not?  The off-shore jurisdiction has a certain attraction to a gambler (look at the Escape Artist website and think about why that exists), and let’s face it – people would like that the winnings would be tax free in Cayman (not to speak for the obligations arising under their home jurisdiction).  The tax reduction might not be effective regarding their home jurisdiction, but I bet lots of people would play on the speculation that it might be, or at least for the dream of having millions off-shore, be it actually as they dream or otherwise.

          How would players pay? There are these things made of plastic with a series of numbers on them…  The player tells the Lottery the numbers on the little card, then the Lottery tells Visa / Mastercard / American Express / etc what the numbers are, and then they in turn give the Lottery money.  Did you really need me to tell you that? 

          Alternatively, if properly vetted they could open a bank account in Cayman and play on a Cayman credit card.  That would be handy when the Casino opens, and also when the winner wants to buy a condo and spend the winnings in Cayman.

          Obstacles to paying a foreign winner?   Hogwash – write them a cheque and deliver it to them personally at one of the big condo projects that have units for sale (include a trip as part of the winnings).  Try to score a second big win for the Island by keeping the money in Cayman.  Either way though, remember that it is not about the winners’ money, it is about making a permanent revenue stream INTO THE ISLAND from the players’ ticket purchases.

          Don’t think like a loser.  Think that you can do this and succeed, and odds are very good that you will.  A hockey player once gave appropriate advice: "You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take."  If you talk yourself out of taking the shot, you will fail.

          Over to you…

        • Dred says:

          You are truly naive.

          I don’t even want to say anything further. So green.