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Jamaica – Online Casinos & Gambling Regulations
The idyllic Caribbean island nation of Jamaica has often been one of the top destinations of many bucket lists. This also goes for the online casino industry, which is currently anticipating reforms to the current legislation. Until such reforms are made, residents remain in a relative gray-zone when it comes to participating in any form of online gambling activities. The lack of online regulations has allowed for overseas operations to fill the market while being headquartered outside of the Jamaican government’s jurisdiction. This means that Jamaican residents do still have access to play, however, this is done at their own risk and outside the protective net of the law.
For those who are adamant about finding an online casino, it is important to first ask yourself some important questions before creating an account. Going through a few mental checks before committing to a site allows you to minimize the risk you take before you commit any personal information or payment details to the organization. Until proper regulations have been set up by the Jamaican government, you want to be looking towards jurisdictions that already have robust and widely recognized regulations like Malta or Curaçao. Below are some example questions, however you can always add more should you feel the need.
- Is the casino fully licensed?
- What do trusted review sites say about the casino?
- Are my preferred currencies and payment methods supported?
- Can I use cryptocurrencies?
- Will I be able to participate in any promotions?
Gathering together enough information to verify the integrity of a casino can take a lot of time. Trawling through the internet and coming across out of date or conflicting information can be really frustrating and lead to a lot of doubt. That’s why GoodLuckMate is here, as our industry veteran writers endeavor to create a reliable and concise source of information for all things gambling-related.
The Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1965 is the main piece of legislation governing Jamaica’s gambling laws. This document was enacted way before the formation of the internet and therefore makes no mention of such activities. While the past decade has seen a lot of reform that aims to consolidate a regulated market, currently locals are legally restricted from playing online. The Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BCLC) is the country’s governing authority, which can issue operational licenses for casinos, online sports betting, poker and bingo.
As recently as 2018, certain members of the government promoted a bill to allow the collection of taxes and licensing fees from any online casino operating within the country. The proposal would require the government to create a more active role in the market, which generally means setting up a fully licensed and regulated market for locals and organizations to benefit from.
Localization is something that Jamaican players should see more as a luxury rather than a standard feature. Online casinos tend to focus on several different countries, yet are still limited by the amount of time and resources they can dedicate to each market. Unfortunately, Jamaica is home to a relatively small population with a currency that is only locally adopted. This makes it less appealing for a casino to create frameworks to allow the facilitation of Jamaican localization.
Casinos will instead opt to set up a baseline of features that is applicable to the widest audiences. English language options, as well as euro and US dollar currency support, are the usual default settings. While this makes it somewhat accessible for Jamaican players, you will also need to check the terms and conditions of any offer you wish to participate in. While it is the responsibility of the government to restrict access to gambling sites, the organization can still get into a lot of trouble for actively advertising towards Jamaican players.
It is a rare occurrence for a casino to provide Jamaican dollars as a supported currency. It is more likely that you will instead need to choose between setting up your account in euros or US dollars. This may also create a limitation in the number of payment options you have available to you. Many players, therefore, decide to use alternative payment methods, such as e-wallets or cryptocurrencies. The rise of cryptocurrencies has already impacted lots of sites, as there are growing adoption rates in cryptocurrency payment methods. This is particularly good for players whose currency is not widely available. You can use your local currency to buy cryptocurrencies, which can then be used to top up your player balance, thereby minimizing fees, processing times and the direct involvement of your bank.
Land-based gambling organizations have been able to flourish on the island since legal changes were made in 2012. This allowed for games of chance, sports betting and lotteries to be active pursuits for any locals over the age of 18. These relatively recent changes, combined with other legal rumblings, provides a lot of hope that Jamaica will be able to eventually reap the full benefits of creating a fully regulated market. A major benefit that a lot of recently regulated territories have experienced is the increase in tax revenues that regulated gambling brings in. These benefits are large enough to set up social support organizations, as well as funding for education programs and infrastructure.
Until more changes are made towards freeing up the current gambling regulations, residents will need to resort to playing outside of the protections of the law. Taxes will instead be generated for overseas territories and an increased risk of coming into contact with illegitimate operations will also remain a danger.