Poker in Jamaica

Introduction

Population: 2,961,000

Capital: Kingston

Currency: Jamaican Dollar (JA$)

Time Zone: UTC-5

Casinos with Poker

Jamaica, a large island nation in the Caribbean Sea, is perhaps most associated with a vice other than gambling: marijuana consumption. That is despite the fact that “ganja”, as the local nomenclature calls it, is illegal in the country. Alas, gambling isn’t completely legal either.

The local venues are allowed to host slot machines on their premises. However, table casino games, such as roulette, deice, or craps are not allowed. Nor are card games, such as blackjack, and – the most pertinent one to our article – poker.

There’s also a state lottery, established in 2001. However, if you look up “Jamaica lottery” on the internet, you’re bound to find something more nefarious – the Jamaican lottery scams. It’s a scheme that’s been around since the 1990’s, in which the perps make the victim believe they won a lottery draw in Jamaica but they have to post an upfront fee to collect the winnings (or pay taxes on it). While it may seem like a very transparent scam to most, some who were caught running it had made hundreds of thousands of US dollars from gullible victims.

Famous Jamaican Poker Players

Currently, Emile John Schiff from Ocho Rios, Jamaica tops the country’s all time money list on Hendon with $425,765 in tournament earnings. In July 2017, he finished 2nd in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event at the WSOP in Las Vegas. He won $264,692, which is by far the biggest single live tournament cash of his career to date. He lost the heads-up battle to the title to the American Chris Klodnicki.

Second on that list is Alexander Haber with $364,894 in live cashes. His biggest score to date is $71,280, which he got for finishing 3rd in the $1,700 Main Event at the Latin America Poker Tour in Panama in July 2014. In 2016, he managed to make it into the money in the WSOP Main Event.

As for online poker, a player who plays under the screen name “GrzegorzT3” on PokerStars and 888Poker from Kingston, Jamaica, has cashed for $229,753 in online MTT’s during his career.

 

– Playing Live Poker in Jamaica –

   Live Poker Legislation in Jamaica

Jamaica was part of the British Empire from 1655 until its 1962 independence. Thus, its legal system is heavily influenced by English common law.

The first piece of gambling legislation in the independent Caribbean nation was passed in 1965, titled the “The Betting, Gaming & Lotteries Act”. The gambling currently in effect is the Casino Gaming Act, passed in June 2010.

As we wrote above, it only allows for slot machines, bingo, sports betting, and state lottery, when it comes to land based gambling. As for online gambling, however, they’re a little more permissive, thankfully – more on that later.

Licencing and regulation of legal gambling in the country are, oddly enough, the shared responsibility of three different government agencies. They are the Betting, Gaming & Lotteries Commission (a statutory body of the Ministry of Finance, established in 1975), the Jamaica Racing Commission, and the Casino Gaming Commission.

  Live Poker Venues in Jamaica

Because of all that is stated above, there is no commercial card room on this island that can host poker games legally. Social gambling is not regulated, however, so you can put together a home game with your friends.

For another solution, the nearby Dominican Republic has a vast number of casinos that offer poker.

– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Jamaica –

  Online Poker in Jamaica

Online gambling is completely legal in the country of Jamaica. However, unlike with land based casinos, poker is also legal online.

The situation is similar to the one in most US states: their current gambling law doesn’t mention internet gambling specifically. What’s more, since they don’t have any “federal” laws against remote wagering, the situation is in fact much better compared to most of the US.

In June 2018, a counsel of Jamaica’s ministers put together a proposal to set up a licencing scheme for online gaming operators. However, that plan is yet to come to fruition.

In the meantime, all major online poker sites, be it PokerStars, Natural8-GGNetwork, partypoker, or Americas Cardroom, are easily available and completely legal to play on for Jamaican poker players.