Most popular forms of gambling are illegal in Barbados, such as land-based casinos. However, gambling does have a long history on this Caribbean island. Since 1917, slot halls have been legal in the country with licenced halls having a selection of popular slot based gambling games. These are commonly called casinos by locals, but they're not actually casinos and only offer slot games.
Poker games and bingo are also illegal in Barbados. When run for non-commercial purposes they can be permissible and purely social events where the stakes are small and all players are over 18 pokers can be played. Due to social occasions such as party's being a way of getting around the restrictive gambling laws of Barbados, table games such as poker has a long history of enjoyment between private citizens with lower stakes.
Horse Racing has a rich history in Barbados, with betting on the popular sport long being a fun way for spectators to wager on the outcome of races. No bookmakers are available in Barbados for betting on other sports such as football and boxing, with betting on these events being illegal.
Sports fans can attend the country's only horse-race course Garrison Savannah and legally place bets on the races. As with table games such as poker, this exemption to the gambling bans has given way to a history of Bajan's heading down to the races to have fun and potentially win some money through bets.
Restrictive legislation has existed since 1917, with gambling being viewed with scepticism in Barbados throughout history and local's having to find other ways of fulfilling their betting needs through legal loopholes or taking the risk of breaking the law.
Gambling nowadays in Barbados
Legal restrictions still exist on gambling in Barbados, with the last update to legislation being in 1985. Despite the heavy-handed restrictions on gambling in the country, players still find ways of being able to play games of chance and an emerging online casino market is going from strength to strength in the country.
Online casinos are growing increasingly popular in Barbados due to a lack of enforcement of gambling laws on players, and questionable legal coverage of the industry which remains mostly unregulated. It's expected that the rise of the internet and online casinos will eventually prompt the Barbados government to update the regulations and laws surrounding gambling in the country, with citizens hoping for some relaxation.
Bingos in the country cannot be run for a profit or other commercial purposes - though some exemptions do apply which enable locals to play bingo in aid of charitable non-profit causes. Lotteries are popular in Barbados today, with the sole licenced lottery operator GTECH providing Keno, Mega 6 and even scratchcards. Proceeds from the lotteries typically go towards youth causes and other cultural and sporting programmes.
Future of online casinos in Barbados
Whilst on-land casinos are illegal in Barbados, other forms of gambling such as slot machines and horse-race betting do enjoy a legal status whilst being heavily regulated and restricted. It is the Betting and Gaming act of 1985 which regulates the gambling sector in Barbados, with the legislation predating online casinos and thus not covering them.
Whilst online casinos cannot be established locally in the country, players are not prosecuted or fined for playing at online casinos based in other countries and many citizens of Barbados do establish accounts with foreign online casinos to meet their gambling needs.
The only completely legal form of online gambling in Barbados is horse-race betting on the website of the Barbados Turf Club. Numerous foreign-based online casinos actively accept Barbados residents and provide bonuses to attract their custom.
Gambling regulations were implemented prior to internet gambling and were specifically designed to limit land-based gambling, making their enforceability in terms of online casinos questionable and up for debate. Due to the legislation being rather outdated, it can be expected that it will eventually be updated to reflect the changing landscape of the gambling industry and the rise of online casinos.
Online casinos are attracting many players from Barbados, and politicians in the country would have an interest in updating regulations to ensure their citizens' interests are protected and the online gambling market can be regulated within the country.