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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.

Map of the Caribbean Casinos

Caribbean Countries

Caribbean Gaming Stats

Countries w/ gambling15
Gaming tables1,054
Cities with gambling0
Poker rooms
Total casinos100
Sportsbooks2
Lotteries
Horse tracks0
Slot machines18,379
Greyhound tracks0

Proposed Casinos

Dec 31
2016
Baha Mar Casino Nassau, New Providence
Jan 1
2017
Marriott Casino Willemstad Willemstad, Curaçao

Upcoming Casinos

Dec 31
2016
Baha Mar Casino Nassau, New Providence
Jan 1
2017
Marriott Casino Willemstad Willemstad, Curaçao

Newest Casinos

Apr 21
2016

Casino Caravelle

Christiansted, Saint Croix
Jul 15
2015

Hyatt Aruba Resort Casino

Palm Beach, Aruba
Jul 15
2015

Hilton Aruba Casino

Palm Beach, Aruba
Feb 1
2015

Las Vegas Barbados

Holetown, Barbados
Jan 30
2015

JoJo's Arcade

Bridgetown, Barbados

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