Gambling in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinbagonian Gambling Laws
By Reno Rollins
Gambling in Trinidad and Tobago is legal, but an effort is underway on the island nation to slowly eliminate the gaming industry. For example, a law was passed in June of 2007 to eventually phase out all slot machines.
Facts About Trinidad and Tobago
The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago lies in the southern part of the Caribbean, and it can be found northeast of Venezuela and south of Grenada. The entire nation is 1,979 square miles and is made up of the islands of Trinidad, Tobago and 21 smaller islands.
Trinidad is the larger island, with its capital being Port of Spain. 96 percent of the country’s 1.3 million citizens live in Trinidad.
The citizens of Trinidad and Tobago are usually referred to as Trinis or Trinbagonians. Sometimes, inhabitants of the local islands might be referred to as Trinidadians or Tobagonians.
Petroleum and natural gas are the driving forces of the local economy, and tourism also brings in a large amount of money each year.
English is the country’s official language, and the dollar is the official currency. This is not the same as the American dollar.
In 2007, Trinidad and Tobago set a new record for homicides with 395. The previous record was set in 2005. For this reason, among others, nations such as the United States, Canada and the UK have advised their citizens to stay away from the island nation.
Trinidad and Tobago is a well-developed country with the highest GDP in the Caribbean. Unemployment figures are very low, and the government has even brought in laborers from the Philippines to help meet the demand for workers.
The country still uses flogging as a punishment, and this is carried out with a Cat o’ nine tails. In 2005, the nation was ordered to pay $50,000 in “moral damages” by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, following a prisoner receiving 15 lashes from the “cat.” It is unknown if this fine was ever paid.
Under Article 8 of the Immigration Act, homosexuals are not allowed to enter Trinidad and Tobago. While they have not been targeted by local authorities, homosexuals are not as accepted as they are in Europe and America. Needless to say, homosexual acts are illegal within the country.
The national sport of the country is Cricket.
Casinos in Trinidad and Tobago
By 2003, casino gaming was only allowed at private member clubs. These casinos were licensed by local government magistrates under the Gambling and Betting Act. Around this time, there were 17 member clubs in operation within the nation. Tourists could easily obtain temporary memberships in order to play at the casinos.
In 2006, the government had taken a decidedly anti-casino stance. Prime Minister Patrick Manning told private club and casino workers that the local gaming industry would be restructured to comply with the law. Many of these efforts were being made to halt money laundering from taking place at the casinos. Many casino employees, afraid of losing their jobs, took to the streets in protest.
In June of 2007, the government of Trinidad and Tobago (under President George Maxwell Richards) passed a law which would eventually lead to the phasing out of slot machines within the country.
In August of 2007, it looked as though the entire casino industry might be closed down. Opponents of this move demanded to know what would happen to the thousands of casino workers who would suddenly find themselves unemployed. Prime Minister Manning reiterated that Trinidad and Tobago was strongly against the proliferation of casinos.
As of this writing, two casinos are still in operation within the country. They are:
Ma Pau (French Street and Araipita Avenue, Port of Spain, Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago) There are 50 gaming machines in this casino, as well as three table and poker games (Baccarat, Blackjack and Poker). For more information, call (868) 624-3331.
Island Club Casino (Churchill Roosebelt and Uriah Butler Highway, Valsayn, Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago) Open 24 hours a day, this casino offers 55,000 square feet of gaming space. There are 151 gaming machines and 12 table games (Spanish 21, Roulette, Multi-Action Blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker, Blackjack and 3-Card Poker). One restaurant is also located on the premises. For more information, call (868) 645-3333.
Horse Racing in Trinidad and Tobago
There is one thoroughbred horse racing track in Trinidad and Tobago. Santa Rosa Park is located on Churchill Roosevelt Highway, Arima, Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago. The facility offers two tracks, one running clockwise and the other running counter-clockwise. Races are held Monday thru Saturday from 8am until 3pm. A restaurant is also located on the premises. Their website is located at www.santarosapark.com, and their contact numbers are (868) 646-0953, (868) 646-2450, (868) 646-2451 and (868) 646-2452.
Lottery in Trinidad and Tobago
In October of 2006, GTECH Corporation announced a five-year contract extension with the National Lotteries Control Board of Trinidad and Tobago. This would enable the company to provide new online lottery services throughout the life of their contract (expiring on September 5th, 2011). This extension was estimated to be worth an additional $78 million to GTECH.
In August of 2007, it was announced that moves were being made to phase out the National Lotteries Control Board’s Lottery Classic by October of 2007. The Lottery Classic game had slowly declined in sales, falling behind such games as Lotto, PlayWhe, Pick Two and Donsai. Lottery Classic was the first lottery game in Trinidad, dating all the way back to 1969.
As of this writing, it appears that the national lottery is still held in Trinidad and Tobago, but it might also be in danger of falling victim to the government’s anti-gambling stance.
Rhum 32 in Trinidad & Tobago
At one time, the most popular card game in Trinidad and Tobago was known as Rhum 32. It was originally introduced in casinos in Aruba, and has since been adopted by Trini players. It is no longer available at casinos, however, as their numbers have been dramatically reduced. Still, you might be able to learn the game at a local café, if you’re really interested.
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