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The State of Gambling in Haiti. Past, Present and Future

Based on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles Archipelago of the Caribbean, Haiti is the third most densely populated country in this region with a population of around 10.6 million. The largest city is Port-Au-Prince with approximately 2.6 million residents and featuring one of two casinos in the area. As one of the poorest countries in the world, it is consistently scored as one of the lowest entries in the human development index and has a low GDP per capita of less than $1000.

One Decade Ago, an Earthquake Devastated Haiti’s Economy, Including Casinos

Unfortunately, the island was devastated by an earthquake back in 2010 which virtually obliterated the economy. Many years later in 2017, Haiti remained the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, evident by over sixty per cent of the population living under the poverty level and around 50,000 people living in ‘tent cities’.

Despite the island attempting to improve the economy in several ways, this has been difficult, because the area is still blighted by a lack of necessary infrastructures such as electricity and water.

Today, only two land-based casinos exist in Haiti. However, there were more before the earthquake happened which were forced to close for good. One which remains is called El Rancho, which is a combined hotel and casino which was impressively upgraded back in 2013. The other is ‘Four Aces’ which is a more basic affair above a supermarket.

Although Land Based Casinos are Legal in Haiti, they aren’t Regulated

Online gambling is also unregulated, but residents are known to play along at offshore online casinos. There are two sizable land-based casinos available which offer a good range of games like blackjack, roulette and poker, amongst others.

Compare this with the UK, and things are very different. Both land-based and online casinos are highly regulated, thanks to laws such as The Gambling Act of 2005, The National Lottery Act and License Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) which are enforced by The Gambling Commission. Ultimately, any gambling business must have a license under the gambling act which fully complies with license conditions and codes of practice. Indeed, the Gambling Commission carry out regular audits and reviews of gambling businesses while also offering advice to license holders. If necessary, action may be taken against non-compliance, or new license conditions may be enforced.

With this in mind, the laws and regulations in force in the UK keep patrons safe. Personal information and transactions are kept out of view from criminals, thanks to encryption. Games are tested for fairness so players can play their favourite games without bias. Player accounts are kept separate from operator accounts so that they do not lose their money if the establishment in question went bankrupt. If a player has a concern about a specific casino, they can raise a complaint which will be investigated, as long as that casino is fully licensed.

All of these measures mean only the strongest within the industry can prosper over a sustained period of time. 888 Casino have certainly stood the test of time, they were founded in 1997 and have been thriving ever since, which is why such a large number of UK-based players visit this top of the line online casino.

The amount of measures which are present in the UK should help to explain why people are more reluctant to gamble in Haiti. Simply, it just isn’t as safe.

Only a Fraction of Casinos Now Exist in Haiti than Before 2010

The two main venues are:

1. El Rancho Hotel & Casino. Both the hotel and casino were renovated not long ago and as a result, are both thriving. As far as the casino is concerned, there are lots of games to choose from. Aside from the 100 gaming machines and electronic games on offer, there are also thirteen gaming tables, blackjack, craps and roulette. El Rancho is now the largest casino in the area, continually keeping up with the times by investing in new gaming hardware, customer service programs and management systems.

2. Four Aces Casino. Although less imposing that El Rancho, Four Aces casino still has a reasonably impressive offering. Situated above a supermarket on the second floor, it has existed since 2014 and has something for everyone. Including slot machines, poker tournaments and video poker, blackjack, a money wheel and roulette. As a bonus, the casino also runs regular competitions where large cash prizes are up for grabs. Separate poker rooms are also available, with a good selection of tables and high limits for the more serious players.

Does Haiti Have the Potential to Improve its Economy through Gambling?

Land-based casinos are perfectly legal in Haiti. However, they are not regulated. Online gambling is not regulated at all, which means residents who want to play online gambling need to visit an offshore site to play.

The lack of regulation, along with the 2010 earthquake which destroyed the economy, may begin to explain why there are so few casinos in Haiti.

Which leads to the question, could Haiti improve its economy by establishing more land-based casinos? Potentially. The problem, however, is competing against other healthy gambling destinations like Las Vegas, combined with the small population and financial position that Haiti is in, it would be a mammoth challenge.

Haitian Times

Haitian Times

The Haitian Times was founded in 1999 as a weekly English language newspaper based in Brooklyn, NY.The newspaper is widely regarded as the most authoritative voice for Haitian Diaspora.
Haitian Times
Jun. 19, 2020

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “The State of Gambling in Haiti. Past, Present and Future”

  1. 1804 says:

    Did you just say Haiti is the poorest country in the world?

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