France's flag is also Saint Barthelemy's flagMention the Caribbean to most people and they’ll doubtless think of islands like Jamaica, Barbados or the Dominican Republic. Few will immediately conjure up images of Saint Barthélemy, if for no other reason than not many will have heard of it. Is that because it’s one of the Caribbean islands that doesn’t allow gambling? It’s possible.

It’s also possible that it’s because the overseas collectivity of France, officially known as the Territorial Collectivity of Saint-Barthélemy, was actually a French commune that was part of Guadeloupe until 2007. A volcanic island that is just shy of ten square miles in size, it has a population of around ten thousand but no casinos to speak of.

Saint Barthélemy & Gambling

Gustavia Harbor, Saint-Barthélemy

Gustavia Harbor, Saint-Barthélemy (Tolanor /

The majority of the economy of the island is based on duty-free retail and tourism, so it might surprise some that gambling is not allowed. Yet when you realise that it is one of the French islands and that only about two hundred thousand tourists turn up to the island each year, it becomes somewhat clearer why gambling isn’t a thing here.

There are only around twenty-five hotels on the island, with the largest having fewer than sixty rooms. The Saint-Barthélemois themselves aren’t overly inclined to want to gamble, so there’s never been much of a push to allow casinos to open there. St. Barts, as the island is often referred, has its own statutory laws and as part of that gambling is illegal.

Given that it is quite a popular destination for the rich and the famous, you’d imagine that gambling would be a popular pastime here and a lucrative one for the locals. Yet the locals prefer the tranquility of the place, meaning that the idea of introducing gambling is unpopular both with the authorities and the citizens of the island.