If you asked people to name an island in the Caribbean then there’s a strong chance that Jamaica would be the one that they’d opt for. Spanning 4,240 square miles, it the Greater Antilles’ third largest island after Cuba and Hispaniola. The island came under the rule of the Spanish when Christopher Columbus arrived in 1494.
Casino gambling is common in Jamaica, with the laws on the matter having been relaxed relatively recently. For a time the only gambling allowed was on slot machines in reports that had been given special permission, but a bill to change that was passed in 2010. Full-scale casino operations were allowed to get underway from November 2012.
The Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission is responsible for gambling in Jamaica, issuing licences to premises that wish to offer gambling to customers. A bill to expand regulated casinos in Jamaica passed in 2010, with full-scale casino operations being allowed from 2012 onwards.
It’s only electronic gaming that is legal is Jamaica, so most venues are small and tend to be limited to slot machines. Some have been clever and have added electronic versions of casino games like blackjack and roulette, but these are few in number.
Monte Carlo Gaming Lounge at the Terra Nova
When casino gambling first began to take off in Jamaica, the Monte Carlo Gaming Lounge at the Terra Nova was one of the biggest influencers on the direction of travel for the island. With ten thousand square feet of gaming, it’s one of the most popular casinos that Jamaica has to offer, with one hundred and fifty slot machines as well as roulette end horse racing machines.
Part of the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel, the venue underwent an upgrade in 2013. It added the likes of a twelve-seater horse-racing machine and a seven-seater electronic blackjack table with a machine that it able to shuffle and deal real cards. There are four restaurants on site as well as numerous others a short distance away, plus there are two bars.
Acropolis – Barbican
The Acropolis – Barbican Casino is set across twelve thousand square foot and is only open at the weekend. There’s enough room for two hundred gaming machines, which includes electronic roulette. There are four other table games offered in electronic format too. Located just outside the heart of Kingston, slots are the favourite games here.
Acropolis – Cross Roads
Cross Roads is a busy part of Kingston, so expect the gaming room here to be busy quite regularly. As with the other Acropolis Casino, this one is made up predominantly of electronic slots and computerised versions of your favourite table gamers. That mans that you’ll be able to play the likes of roulette and blackjack, just not with other humans.
Grand Bahia Principe Grand
Whilst far from being an all-encompassing casino, the Grand Bahia Principe can be found on the outskirts of Runaway Bay and does offer numerous slot machines and electronic versions of popular card games. With it being a hotel, there are both restaurants and bars on site, so you don’t have to step too far away from the gaming table to get refreshments.
RIU Ocho Rios Casino
Found close to Ocho Rios, this is very much one of the venues that fits into the category of being a hotel with a small number of slot machines in rather than a full-blown casino. There are about ten slot machines located right next to the hotel’s sports bar, so don’t be surprised if you find them full when you head to play on them.
Casino ClubHotel Riu Negril & Riu Palace Tropical Bay
The casino offered by the Riu Group at the Riu Palace Tropical Bay is open every day of the week for all of your slot machine needs. It is a quality resort that is better known for its tourist-appealing infrastructure, including swimming pools and fitness centre in the all-inclusive venue. The slot machines are there to keep you entertained during your stay, too.
Treasure Hunt Gaming Casino Montego Bay
Arguably the most Vegas-like of all of the casinos on the list, the Treasure Hunt Gaming Casino at Montego Bay offers a cornucopia of slot and gaming machines to visitors. Bright, garish and noisy, it is open twenty-four hours a day and there’s both roulette and blackjack on offer in electronic form. A genuine ‘must-see’ for the gamers amongst you.
Despite the law allowing casinos to be built passing through the Jamaican parliaments in 2012, nothing has yet actually happened on that front. Whether it’s because of a lack of appetite from those responsible for building a casino or objections from the locals isn’t clear, we just know that there’s no longer anything to stop a casino opening and yet it hasn’t happened.
In 2018, the Minster of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, gave a speech in which he confirmed that the first major casino operation would be up and running on the island by 2020. Yet in the same speech he also played down the idea of Jamaica ever becoming a casino destination but would instead be a ‘destination at which casino gaming is available’.
Quite what sort of difference his speech made to the overall state of casino gambling in Jamaica isn’t exactly clear. After all, clearance was given to two resort casinos back in 2015 but nothing had happened by 2018. A $970 million resort by Harmony Cove Limit and a $500 million report from Celebration Jamaica Development haven’t yet opened.
It looked as though that was all due to change in August of 2019 when Bartlett confirmed a deal had been struck with Unico, the company behind the Hard Rock Hotel chain. They were planning to open an integrated Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, with ground being broken at the end of 2019, but at the time of writing, there has been no progress on the matter.