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Poker News | Casino Poker | News

World Poker - Antigua and Barbuda

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Antigua has been in the news for months now with their WTO legal battle against the USA over the online gambling trade dispute. But where is this island nation and what kind of poker do they offer?

Antigua and Barbuda are the two major islands of this country. Technically, this is not a "country" at all, but an island nation. These two islands are located in the Leeward Islands, which is part of the Lesser Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea of the Atlantic Ocean. The other islands within the Lesser Antilles are: Anguilla, Barbados, Dominica, Martinique, Monserrat, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Trinidad, Tobago, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts, Nevis, Saint Barthelemy, and Saint Martin.

While many people know of these islands, thanks to their popularity with cruise ships, many poker players recognize them because this is where many online poker/casino sites are based.

Until the advent of online gaming 10 years ago, the main source of income for this island nation was tourism. Thanks to upwards of 15 million tourists a year, fully a third of its GDP (gross domestic product) was derived from tourism. Now, Internet Gambling is a 12 billion a year industry with more than 2,300 online casinos. Of this number, approximately 195 gambling sites are registered in Antigua and Barbuda. While exact numbers are unknown, the revenue realized from these gambling sites is believed to be in the billions. Since it is estimated that a third of all wagers are placed from the US, the economic impact in lost revenues due to the UIGEA is astronomical for this tiny island nation. This is why in the recent WTO legal fight Antigua and Barbuda's claims for compensation against the US could reach 7 billion dollars or more.

The population of Antigua and Barbuda is approximately 70,000 with an estimated 4,500 of these residents being American citizens, making it one of the largest American populations in the Eastern Caribbean. Of these residents, about 10% were employed in the online gaming industry before the UIGEA, since then, an estimated 200 employees have lost their jobs. In an island paradise where the average yearly income is $6,000 USD, any loss of jobs is a big blow.

Antigua and Barbuda boast six brick & mortar casinos with wagering in US dollars. Most of these casinos have the usual casino games of Blackjack, Craps, Roulette and slots, but very few offer poker.

The casinos that do advertise poker are: The Kings Casino, which welcomes over 1,000 tourists a week and is located on the water's edge in St. Johns at Heritage Quay. They offer two tables of Texas Hold'em. The Grand Princess Casino in Antigua and Barbuda, advertise a high stakes area for poker. No specific games or limits are posted.

Throughout the Caribbean, including Antigua and Barbuda, where land based casinos are located, citizens are allowed to work in the casinos. It is however illegal for citizens to gamble in those casinos, whether they work there or not. This is supposedly the local government's way of protecting their people from themselves, as income levels are so low. Private games/gambling is also outlawed, but it is assumed they exist, as they do in every other part of the world.

A good question is "Can citizens of these Caribbean islands play online?" The only answer may be "Where there is a will there is a way."

*Editor's Note. We, at PokerWorks, would like to envision the world playing online poker. PokerStars has some of the best tournament schedules for live and online play. And you can play from anywhere in the world, including the USA.*

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