The Caribbean is home to a number of incredible casinos, ranging from the majestic Atlantis Casino located in the Bahamas to several brick-and-mortar casinos in Puerto Rico. However, the online gambling industry in the Caribbean is far more prominent and influential than the land-based casinos.
The Caribbean is home to several companies which host websites where players from across the world are able to enjoy real money casino games at Wild jack casino, one of the biggest online casinos, amongst several other online options. Recent estimates indicate that global revenue from this sector is going to reach $635 billion by the year 2022, which is testament to the fact that this industry cannot be taken lightly.
Beginnings of online gambling
The world of online gambling took off in Antigua and Barbuda with the passage of the Free Trade and Processing Act in 1994, which allowed licenses to be granted to companies looking to start online casinos. In the same year a collaboration to set up an online casino business was forged between Microgaming, based in the tax haven nation of Isle of Man, which provided the technological framework for an online setup, and CyptoLogic, an Irish company which provided the financial capital for the venture.
Since the humble beginnings of online gambling in 1994, Antigua and Barbuda have attained the status of international leaders in the sector, with several prominent companies like Titan and Sportsbook having licensed themselves in the nation. These companies have achieved considerable financial success in the global online gambling market, and have even listed themselves on the London Stock Exchange, bringing considerable tax revenue to the Antigua and Barbuda. Following in Antigua and Barbuda’s footsteps, other nations such as Curacao, Nevis and Aruba have also started liberal licensing regimes for gambling companies.
The Free Trade and Processing Act provided for licensing for both interactive games like online casinos, as well as interactive wagering, which is applicable for sports betting. However, all nations do not afford the same treatment to both forms of gambling. Similarly, online casinos exist in an unregulated legal grey area in many jurisdictions, for instance land based casinos are banned in Barbados, but a similar prohibition does not exist for online gambling.
Other Caribbean nations have resorted to differential treatment between citizens and foreigners, being drawn to the burgeoning tax revenues and increased tourism from a liberal gambling regime. For instance, Bahamians are prohibited from gambling in any of the land based casinos, which attract thousands of tourists each year.
What lies ahead?
The online gambling industry has grown steadily since the passage of the 1994 Act in Antigua and Barbuda, giving the region considerable clout on the international stage, to the extent that the nation did not shy away from successfully bringing a complaint to the WTO against the United States in 2005. The case revolved around how the US had violated free trade rules by restricting its citizens from accessing online gambling websites based in Antigua and Barbuda.
With the advent of smartphones and easily accessible internet connections, the online gambling industry is likely to continue to exhibit exponential growth, with considerable potential for growth in the Caribbean through the liberalization of the Cuban markets, as well as taxation of gambling activities operating in legal gray areas. In any case, the future of online gambling is likely to continue to have the Caribbean at the forefront.