Sharing Hispaniola island with the Dominican Republic, Haiti is one of those fascinating Caribbean countries with scenically picturesque views and inviting people through the country has headlined the news for a number of natural disasters. This North American country is home to the Citadelle la Ferrière, Sans-Souci Palace ruins, islands such as Les Cayemites, Navasse, Ile de Anacaona, and La Gonave, and many more historical and historical landmarks. With its capital as Port-au-Prince, there are more than 10 million people in the country. Unfortunately, Haiti’s gambling industry is not as spectacular.
History of Casinos in Haiti
On 4 December 1492, the historical backdrop of Haiti started when Christopher Columbus – celebrated Italian navigator – found a substantial island in the locale of the western Atlantic Ocean referred to as the Caribbean today. At the time, Columbus named it the Spanish Island (La Isla Española), stealing it from the native Taíno inhabitants and claiming it for the Spanish Crown. Today, the island is called its Latin name: Hispaniola.
Soon, the Europeans arrived and caused probably the most pessimistic scenario of elimination in the Americas. The Spanish oppressed and enslaved the inhabitants to mine them a constant supply of gold. By 1514, the population dropped to about 30,000 due to Spanish brutality and disastrous diseases. Within a century, the inhabitants have almost been totally eliminated. More African and Caribbean slaves were imported into the territory and animals such as pigs and horses were introduced as well.
The French, in the 17th century, firmly became the administrator of the territory. They built a colony promptly and started exploiting the island. However, Haiti – known formerly as Saint-Domingue – gained full independence from France during the Haitian Revolution. The revolution from 1791 to 1804 put an end to slavery and colonization in the country, and was a success.
During these distinct periods of the inhabitants and Spanish and French rules, casinos and gambling were completely left out of the picture. The country was rather too busy with political, societal and economic complications. Nevertheless, then-President François Duvalier officially made gambling legal in 1960. And although there has been an illegal yet popular casino since 1949, the decree was passed to lure desperate investors who were at the time chased from Cuba.
However, the law was more of a joke than an actual law. This is because the law stated that casinos can only be included in hotels with 200 or more rooms. There was no such hotel in the country, and even none today. If the 200 or more rooms requirements cannot be achieved, a gaming house could have seven or fewer table games and only specific games were allowed. By 1989, only one casino remained in the country – offering about 15 table games and a number of slot machines. The number of table games was above the legal amount and slot machines were unauthorized.
At the time, the government stated that to grant a license, the owner must pay $50,000 to the Ministry of Commerce which will be returned once the government deems the casino serious for business. Well, the owner of that casino secretly said the government took $250,000 from him and it went to the president himself. Also, the money was never returned to him.
The law also coerced the casino to pay 40 percent of its gross profits as tax and $1,000 annually – and the players must pay 5 percent of their cashouts. In 1985, the president was defeated and taken out of power. Ever since taxes and annual payments were neglected. By 1989, there were five casinos in the country run by foreign investors and native Haitians.
At the time, Haiti’s gambling industry gained popularity within and outside the regions of Haiti. Unfortunately, today, gambling – except lottery and cockfighting – is not impressive at all. The country itself has been in varying challenging situations, so the gambling scene is not focused on by the government and the masses.
Current Gambling Climate
Yes, gambling is legal in Haiti. In fact, most – if not all – forms of gambling are legal in Haiti. Lottery and cockfighting are very popular while casino gambling, sports betting, bingo and other forms are not so popular. Although licensing and regulation are not transparent, there are six legally operational casinos in the country.
Haiti is a fascinating North American country despite its economic, political, societal, and financial stumbling blocks. The gambling scene is not as impressive as other North American countries’, so you might not totally enjoy gambling in Haiti. Nonetheless, the casinos in Haiti are okay or considerably good.
Casinos in Haiti by Area
Similar to other countries with a small number of gambling facilities, the greater percentage of casinos in Haiti is situated in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Four Aces Casino, Haiti, Hotel Oloffson, NH Haiti El Rancho Hotel and Casino, and Renaissance Hotel are all located in Port-au-Prince. However, La Pépinière Hôtel and Hotel Villa Thérèse are located in a suburb of Port-au-Prince known as Pétion-Ville.
NH Haiti El Rancho Hotel and Casino is the largest gambling facility in Port-au-Prince and the whole country. There are more than 100 gaming machines, two poker tables, and 13 table games.
Types of Casinos in Haiti
Haiti’s gambling industry is considerably smaller than one would expect from a Caribbean country. There are six casinos in the country and these casinos are parts of three, four or five-star hotels within the country. And although they are not as big as those found in Las Vegas or Macau, they are acceptable. Most casinos offer blackjack, roulette, Caribbean Stud poker, video slots, video poker, American roulette, Texas Hold’em, and craps.
Sports betting, horse racing, and bingo are averagely popular in this North American country. In contrast, cockfighting is a widespread gambling event amongst Haitians and Haiti residents. This type of bloodsports is so much widely played in the country that cock trainers are treated like local celebrities. Almost every town and village all through Haiti host cockfighting events every Sunday.
In addition to casinos and cockfighting, lottery – locally known as “borlette” – is another favored form of gambling within the country. Because lottery is considered spiritual and based on visions or dreams in Haiti, Haitians call lottery “Mon Reve,” which translates to “My Dream.” There are no national lotteries but La Lotto Internationale S.A Lotto (LISA) have 59 retail outlets within the country. Additionally, Bank Borlette’s are smaller private lottery operators available at everywhere within the country.
Also, Bank Borlette’s draw their winning numbers of draw games (such as Lotto 3, Bolet, Lotto 5, Boloto, and Lotto 4) from the Santo Domingo State Lottery or the New York State Lottery. And, luckily, Haitians trust this idea because they believe local systems are corrupted through trickery, described as the “magouy.” Basically, the lottery is a serious form of gambling in Haiti. The majority of Haitians save their hard-earned money just to play the lottery with hopes of winning and leaving the common, nationwide poverty.
List of Casinos in Haiti
Below is a list of all casinos currently operating in the regions of Haiti.
Four Aces Casino, Haiti
Hotel Villa Thérèse
La Pépinière Hôtel
NH Haiti El Rancho Hotel and Casino
Facts About Casinos in Haiti
– The minimum gambling age in Haiti is 18 years.
– Haitians, Haiti residents, and Haiti tourists spend approximately $2 billion on Bank Borlette’s every single year.
– Successful cock trainers are local celebrities in Haiti.
– The country is currently facing nationwide poverty (more than 80 percent of the entire population), political instability, high AIDS infection rate, and natural disasters (especially earthquakes). Therefore, casinos and gambling are the least of the country’s concerns.
– Although a good percentage of the country speaks fluent Spanish, Haitian Creole and French are the official languages.
– Cockfighting is very popular in the country and completely legal.
– The lottery is, without doubt, or competition, the most popular form of gambling throughout the length and breadth of Haiti. Bank Borlette’s are readily available practically everywhere (cities, suburbs, towns, and even villages) in the country.
– Card games and dominoes are popular in the country but considered more for fun than for money.
– Historically, Haiti is the first or primary autonomous black-led republic and the only country to effectively conduct a slave rebellion.
– La Lotto Internationale S.A Lotto (LISA) has more than 59 retail outlets throughout Haiti.
– Most casinos in Haiti closed instantly after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, leaving just six casinos currently operational.
– Compared to other North American countries, Haiti’s gambling industry is apparently the smallest and weakest.
– NH Haiti El Rancho Hotel and Casino was established in the 1980s by an American organization. In 1992, a Haitian group took over the casino and is still in charge today.
– Investment is stunted in Haiti because of the poverty rate and slow economy. As a result, foreign
investors are not lured into investing in the country’s gambling industry or any other industry.
– There are more than 200,000 lottery houses in the capital city of Port-au-Prince alone.
– In Haiti, online gambling is not regulated.