The Dominican Republic Standing Committee on Finance is focusing its attention on regulating all forms of gambling and legalizing Internet gaming.
Committee members are discussing a new bill that would create a national regulatory authority to oversee casino businesses in the Caribbean country.
According to Dionis Sanchez, president of the finance committee, the legislation would give power to federal lawmakers to monitor gambling activities that currently operate “without due control and supervision.”
If passed, the bill would also implement responsible gaming measures, take action to prevent fraud, and develop safeguards to protect Dominican citizens from exploitation by rogue operators. Industry representatives and members of the Dominican Republic national lottery have been invited to join the dialogue and make recommendations as the committee considers the bill.
The Dominican Republic is a rather welcoming nation to the casino industry. There are currently 34 operating land-based casinos, the most of any Caribbean country. While each casino must obtain a license from the Ministry of Finance, there is currently little to no oversight on commercial gaming.
The Punta Cana Classic, part of the Latin Poker Series, will celebrate its sixth anniversary in November of 2015 with a $500,000 guaranteed prize pool. The weeklong tournament is held at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Punta Cana, an all-inclusive resort featuring a casino floor spanning 45,000 square feet. Players can win seats at the tournament through Bovada satellites leading up to the event.
The proposed legislation isn’t being pushed to restrict gambling, but expand it. Through the licensing of online casinos, the Dominican Republic could stand to reap the rewards of Internet gaming. According to current law, betting revenues are considered personal income, a taxable asset in the country.
The bill doesn’t mention if the Ministry of Finance will levy a fee for each license, but if it does additional proceeds will be gained. In addition, the country stands to collect significant tax revenues from corporations that set-up in the Dominican.
Poker is fun no matter where you are, but for obvious reasons it’s just a tad better when you’re in the Caribbean. Due to the regions large tourism industry, most countries and territories have gambling laws in place. Here’s how the Dominican stacks up against its neighbors:
Puerto Rico: The US territory is home to 22 gambling sites, many of which are located in hotels and resorts. Online gambling per US law is prohibited.
Jamaica: Due to years of religious opposition in the country, gambling is limited to slots and various video machines. Recent developments could bring full-fledged gaming to the island in 2015.
Aruba: The tiny 69 square mile island is home to 11 casinos that feature everything from slots to poker. The Netherlands constituent has lax regulations concerning online gaming, but should its Dutch sibling legalize Internet gaming in 2015 as many expect, Aruba’s position might change.
US Virgin Islands: You won’t find a poker table in St. John or St. Thomas, but St. Croix travelers are in luck. The Carina Bay Casino offers table games and slots. Remote gaming is outlawed.
British Territories: The British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands have banned all forms of gambling.
Bahamas: Allows gambling in casinos and is considering online gaming but only for tourists and non-residents. The Atlantis is home to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.