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Caribbean Casinos and Gaming Guide

2016 Caribbean Casino and Gaming Update: Introduction

Since the turn of the century the Caribbean casino industry has moved steadily forward in nearly all countries and jurisdictions. Resorts in the Caribbean have advanced from a somewhat small and seedy image just 25 years ago to being entertainment destinations for all. Casinos such as the expanded Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island and the sprawling Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in the Dominican Republic resort of Punta Cana are just a couple of quick examples.

At the end of 2015 there were 185 casinos in the Caribbean an increase of 15 over 2014.

In 2016 the $3.5 billion Baha Mar Resort in the Bahamas will finally open after numerous delays and with new owners. In addition, 2016 will see the opening of at least 13 more casinos projected to open in countries which presently have legalized casino gambling. This number includes new casinos in Jamaica which has recently approved two mega resort casinos. The Dominican Republic will expand its number of casinos to 69, mainly in the luxury resort area of Punta Cana.

The vast majority of casinos in the Caribbean have four or less gaming tables and no more than 30 slot machines. Most casinos small scale and few come anywhere close to what you'll find at the Bahamas Atlantis Paradise Island Resort & Casino which is still the largest casino in the Caribbean region. Atlantis Casino links two huge hotel towers and spans a seven acre lagoon. It is running the Caribbean’s finest state-of-the-art player tracking system for its 75 gaming tables and over 750 of the latest slot machines. Atlantis Resort has gambling available in locations other than the main casino, a feature unique to the Caribbean. Atlantis guests and players can gamble poolside at Cain Cove – an adults-only space offering blackjack and mini craps. You can also walk over to the Sea Glass for more table games and slot machines. In late 2015 Atlantis opened a separate high-roller room which is the largest in the Caribbean.

Puerto Rico and the Island of Hispaniola

By far the largest concentration of casinos in the Caribbean will be found in Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic (which shares the island of Hispaniola with the West’s poorest nation of Haiti).

While Puerto Rico with 21 casinos and the Dominican Republic with 65 have the largest number of casinos in the region, the two are moving in opposite directions. Between 2013 and the end of 2016 the Dominican Republic will have dramatically increased it's number of casinos in the country from 11 to 69, while Puerto Rico casino numbers will have fallen by at least eight to just 19 casinos in the same time period.

Expansion in the Dominican Republic has been mainly in the luxury resort of Punta Cana where the Government has allowed casinos in a great majority of the high class resorts there. Four more casinos are planned for Punta Cana in 2016.

A major news story broke in 2015 that the Caribbean’s largest casino operator, Canadian based Dreams Corporation will lose control of all their 17 casinos in Dominican Republic by 2016 and other gambling establishments in Jamaica due to corruption and links to the Canadian mafia and potential contract killings.

Haiti is the Caribbean’s second most populous country. Mob influenced casinos were around during the years of dictators Papa Doc Duvalier and his son Baby Doc Duvalier but none of the casinos survived the devastating earthquake of 2010. There are two casinos currently in Haiti. Royal Haitian Hotel and Casino is probably the most well known. A major re-investment is underway in Haiti and there are major plans with hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for large scale hotels and resorts with probable casinos, coming in the next year. A $400 million dollar 5 star Serenity Aqua Resorts is due to open by the end of 2016 and include one of the best casinos in the region.

Puerto Rico has the most Vegas type larger casinos in this part of the world but mainly due to an ever expanding illegal slot machine rouge industry there have been major closures in recent years and potentially another two or three closures coming in 2016. It seems that the crippling increases in the price of electricity for the casinos will not abate in 2016 and this is a major problem for the casinos. During 2015 three casinos closed in Puerto Rico, the last being the Sheraton Old San Juan announcing its closure in September 2015. The economy in Puerto Rico suffering is also having an effect.

The Bahamas

There was a long slow period in the Bahamas after the Royal Oasis Resort in Freeport was destroyed by two hurricanes in 2005 and when the casinos in the smaller “Family Islands” such as Pinnacle Entertainment’s Emerald Bay Casino had closed.

Activity has picked up since June 2013 when Resorts World Bimini Casino opened and a new gaming law was passed offering more liberal gambling options. In Freeport casino gaming is making a comeback with Memories Grand Bahama Beach Casino Resort opening its doors in February of 2014.

It is strongly rumored that the owners of the land where the old Royal Oasis was will open a new 5 star resort casino in the later stages of 2016. Also in Freeport the government has said they will soon announce a new casino operator to replace Treasure Bay Corp. at Our Lucaya.

The biggest story of 2015 in the Caribbean was the constant opening delays and eventual bankruptcy of the $3.5 billion Baha Mar Resort. In late 2015 it was announced by major press circles that the world famous hotelier Sol Kerzner was likely to become the saviour of Baha Mar and now plans to complete and have a grand opening in July 2016. As a sidenote, Sol Kerzner was also regarded as the saviour of Atlantis Resort and his Kerzner International Holdings Ltd. then sold the property to creditor Brookfield Asset Management in April 2012.

After many rumors over the years 2016 could finally see a casino at South Ocean Golf & Beach Resort after government approval was given. The New South Ocean Development Company is planning a $1 billion project on the south western coast.

ABC Islands and St. Maarten

Previously known as the Netherland Antilles, the countries of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao and St. Maarten have always been favoured by mainly North American and Latin American gamblers. Although Bonaire has only two very small boutique like casinos there are major Vegas style casinos in Aruba (14), Curacao (13) and St. Maarten (14).

Curaçao and Aruba have long been accused of having an oversupply of casinos that the market can’t bear, but Aruba added two more casinos in 2015 including the Riu Palace Hotel and the new Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino which opened in July 2015. The Hard Rock Casino in Aruba that was planned was abandoned in 2015. Zoëtry Isla Di Oro Aruba and Resort will open in it's place in late 2016, but most likely without a casino.

Other Islands with Established Casinos

Jamaica could become the biggest story of 2016, as the government there has now legalized full blown casino gambling. In Jamaica in late 2014 the Government announced it would grant three large casino licenses but only two so far have applied and been granted permission: Celebration Jamaica Resort and Harmony Cove Resort are scheduled to open between late 2016 and early 2017. At present Jamaica has many electronic casinos.

Antigua could have another major casino soon as agreement has been made and Chinese company Yada International Investment Group claim their $1 billion Singulari project will be bigger and better than even Baha Mar. There are five established smaller casinos on Antigua and also the revival of the dormant K-Club which will become a $250 million five-star resort and casino by the end of 2016.

Trinidad and Tobago has finally said it will make casinos fully legal in 2016 after much lobbying from the hospitality sector. In the country there are up 20 "Members Only Clubs" which allowed gambling but have not been officially licensed as full blown casinos since a law on Members Only Clubs was passed in 2003.

The Turks and Caicos is due for a new law that would allow five more casinos from 2016 but the only casino still in the country is Casablanca which was the first to open.

The U.S. Virgin Islands have had just one casino in St. Croix which is the Divi Carina Bay Casino although when the government announced the new gambling law they predicted they'd have at least six casinos by now. February of 2016 has seen the approval for a casino attached to the Hotel Caravelle in Christiansted with strong indication that Cheney Bay Resorts will be next. 2016 may also see Golden Gaming finally opening their long awaited St. Croix Golf Resort & Casino. Seven Hills Gold Resort & Casino is also still on the burner.

Some of the Caribbean countries with much smaller numbers of casinos are Martinique (2) St. Kitts and Nevis (1) St. Lucia (1) and Guadeloupe (2). St. Vincent & Grenadines has casino licenses but no operating casinos since they closed the very classy Trump Privee casino.

Cuban Gaming?

Cuba is the Caribbean’s largest country by population, (UN 2015 estimate was well over 11 million) has no casinos even though there has been strong speculation that the glory days of the mafia run “style” Havana casinos will soon return, especially after a new relationship was started by the U.S. President Barak Obama in 2015 when business and visa restrictions were removed. Also see this article: Lanksy Family wants compensation or casino back

Islands with no full casino legislation

There are still countries in the Caribbean that do not allow casino gambling at all and these are the British territories of Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Montserrat along with Grenada, Barbados and Dominica.

Horse Racing in the Caribbean:

Mainly due to the large Britsh influence you will find horse racing in a large percentage of Caribbean Islands. Ex British colonies have had horse racing for 100 years. Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados lead the way in both action and history.

Barbados is home to the Barbados Turf Club and the Garrison Savannah Racetrack that dates back to the 1800s. The Barbados Turf Club has been open since 1905 and promotes and regulates horse racing in Barbados. There are regular races here and some larger ones through out the year. The biggest races of the year are Sandy Land Barbados Gold Cup, The Banks Barbados Guineas, The Pinnacle Feeds Midsummer Creole Classic and the United Insurance Barbados Derby.

Trinidad has the Arima Race Club at Santa Rosa Park. Trinidad's biggest races are the Midsummer Classic, the T&T Breeders Classic and the Easter Guineas.

There is plenty of racing at Caymanas Park in Jamaica. You will find more than ten large races each year including Jamaica Derby, S.V.L. Jamaica, Lotto Classic Day and the 2000 Guineas.

Puerto Rico also has had established racing for well over 100 years and the "Hipodromo Camarero", is home to the annual Clasico del Caribe, a race that reunites important horses from many countries.

In the Dominican Republic there are sometimes up to 15,000 people that attend the Hipódromo V Centenario in Santo Domingo. You will also find horse racing at Rancho San Antonio in the Dominican Republic. In addition to racing you will find expert horse breeders here and the Rancho San Antonio produces top quality thoroughbred horses for racing.

In Nevis there is plenty of excitement and you will find Nevis Turf and Jockey Club at Indian Castle Race Track. And there is horse racing in at the Hippodrome de Carrère in Martinique.

Greyhound Racing in the Caribbean:

While there are no greyhound dog racing tracks that we know of in the Caribbean, the Jamaican dogsled team puts out an enormous effort for their snowless wonder of dogsled racing. Take a look for yourself: For a good primer please take a look at our article on horse racing.

Progress in Jamaica 2014

Congress has started the process for granting licenses to the accepted bidders yet to pass legislation regulating Internet gambling, leaving the V.I. the option of creating its own law to take advantage of the highly rewarding industry. Last year, at a seminar on Internet gaming hosted by the Casino Control Commission, experts said online gambling had reached about $2.2 billion annually.

By 2005, it is projected to reach $10 billion. More than 55 nations, including Antigua, Belize, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica in the Caribbean region, now allowing Internet gaming. Controls in some of the jurisdictions have been widely criticized for their sloppiness.

Antigua and Barbuda:

The Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives had met few days back to contemplate on the ‘Goodlatte and Leach Internet Gaming Bills’. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda was given an opportunity to make written submissions to the Committee in respect of the proposed Bills. In spite of the protests, arguments and other submissions, the Committee nonetheless voted in favor of the Bills.

“The approval by the Judiciary Committee of the so-called ‘Goodlatte and Leach Internet Gaming Bills’, represents a troubling about-turn by an important arm of the US Government in response to the crystal-clear recommendations and rulings of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO),” said Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Finance and the Economy, Dr Errol Cort.

Racinos in Caribbean countries

Caribbean has a plethora of opportunities in horse racing. One can check out the Guadeloupe that offers horse tracks at Gosier, at the Hippodrome de Pointe a Pitre. Also, Jamaica offers horse tracks in Saint Catherine at Caymanas Park while Martinique offers them in Lamentin at Hippodrome de Carrere Lamentin.

Internet Gambling and Racino Laws in Caribbean countries

The government of Antigua and Barbuda licenses gambling entities. The island nation of Antigua and Barbuda had complained to the World Trade Organization about the US government’s actions to impede online gambling.

Though this small Caribbean Country won the preliminary ruling but WTO had reduced the favorable ruling in April, 2005. The appeals decision held that various state laws argued by Antigua to be contrary to WTO agreements were not adequately discussed during the course of the proceedings to be properly assessed by the panel.

The appeals panel also ruled out the Wire Act and two other federal statutes prohibiting the provisions of gambling services from Antigua violated the General Agreement on Trade in Services or “GATS” issued by WTO.

US could convince the appeals panel about the necessity of the laws for the protection of public health and morals. However the US defenses were rejected finally because its laws relating to remote gambling on horse-racing were not applied equally to foreign and domestic online betting companies, and thus the United States could not establish that its laws were non-discriminatory.

Caribbean Lottery / Lotto

Jamaica is a great place for trying one’s luck in lotteries. The idea of putting a whopping $53 million was given by the National Council of Education. This was done to generate revenue to revamp the educational systems of the place. The government has made the modifications in the lottery plans and a sum of $15,000 was set before the 15% tax is applied.

Caribbean Lottery / Lotto Laws

While Jamaica is against casino gaming, it may be willing to take a chance at the lotteries.

There are signals that the Government will achieve its one billion dollar target from the collection of the betting, gaming and lottery tax. Provisional data from the Finance Ministry confirm that intake from the tax at the end of January was $54 million above projection. The figure stood at $925 million ahead of the expected $871 million.

Based on the increased inflows it is expected that total intake will reach one billion dollars by the end of the fiscal year on March 31. Last December, Finance Minister Dr. Omar Davies announced a reversal of the Government's decision to impose a 15% tax on all lottery winnings. The tax now applies only to winnings above $15,000.

The Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) has proposed that fines of up to half a million dollars should be imposed on lottery vendors and bookmakers who sell tickets or bets to minors as part of a sweeping house- cleaning of the industry. A High Court Judge has granted a 28 day ex parte injunction to Olympic Sports Data Services Limited, against a move by the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) to shut down its gaming operations.

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Casino List
Caribbean Casinos and Gaming Guide
Caribbean Pari-mutuel
Caribbean Gambling Law
Caribbean Casino News

Caribbean Stats

  • Countries w/ gambling: 22
  • Cities with gambling: 64
  • Total casinos: 178
  • Gaming tables: 1,432
  • Slot machines: 24,069
  • Poker rooms: 35
  • Sportsbooks: 26
  • Bingo halls: 20
  • Horse tracks: 6
  • Greyhound tracks: 0
  • Lotteries: 3

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