There has been a lot of contradiction on the Jamaican gambling scene this year. Teen gambling is on the rise against a backdrop of lower betting by the general population whilst at the same time the government is planning for additional casinos and betting opportunities to kick start a struggling economy.
Recession Effects on Gambling
This year has seen a lack of disposable income that has caused a slowdown in gambling. Horse racing has been hit particularly badly, according to the Jamaica Observer.
On the other hand, in September 2009 analysis of research from 2007 was published, warning of the rise in teenage gambling in Jamaica. The Rise Life Management Ltd report highlighted that 1 in 5 Jamaican adolescents under the age of 19 already have a gambling problem or are at risk of developing one.
Poker, racing bets and online casinos are their main areas of interest. The report urged educational intervention and made the link between gambling and more marginalized kids.
Gambling as Recession-Buster
The commencement of weekend racing at Kingston's Caymanas Park caused a stir in November. Church leaders raised concerns over move, which the government apparently approved in order to draw in the tourists and boost the economy. Although trackside betting is all part of the fun at Caymanas Park, off track betting is currently not available, something the industry is lobbying to change. The new weekend racing has been drawing record crowds and made pleasing profits of $17.9 million from only eight races during its first weekend.
In another attempt to use the sports and gambling industry to counteract the economic downturn, Parliament began debating the approval of new casinos in April. There has already been interest from developers looking to build casinos at the Montego Bay and Trelawny resorts. However, November saw the draft bill withdrawn, although not due to a reversal of policy but to allow time for consultation with industry and government stakeholders.
Big Money Lotto
In September Super Lotto arrived in Jamaica - giving locals access to mega-jackpots. The prize money is sky high as the Super Lotto combines the lotteries from 8 local countries, meaning that jackpots start at an astonishing J$180 million! If you haven't got in on the fun yet, why not?!
Talking of the lottery, Jamaicans this year benefited from a new Gtech mobile feature which enables lottery tickets to be bought via a mobile phone account. For those selecting lucky numbers, winner notifications will be sent via text and winnings deposited into mobile accounts. Playing the lottery just got quicker and easier.
Another monstrous mobile event is Casino King's launch of both iPhone and android casinos, adding more flexible ways to flutter.
Jamaicans betting online can also ensure swift deposits and payments are made, as online casinos such as Jackpot City and Gaming Club increasingly improve their payment options and accepted currencies.
The Year Ahead
For poker lovers, now is the time to qualify for the for live European Poker Tour events, which are due to take place locally next month! In January 2010 the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure is taking place at the Atlantis Resort & Casino on Paradise Island in The Bahamas. Those wishing to hone up their skills can practice on popular sites operating locally, such as Cool Hand Poker and Full Tilt.
Another one to watch in 2010 is Gaming Club's new Microgaming stomper, 'Hellboy'. Launching on 14 January, this comic-book themed 5 reel, 20 payline video slots thriller has some great features. As well as utilizing Hellboy's iconic characters, such as Prof. Trevor Bruttenholm, Johann Krause and Abe Sapien, the game includes a 4 Level Bonus Feature plus a 2x and 4x Gamble Feature.
2010 will likely see the government continuing to address the tough economic climate with activity around the gambling industry. Jamaica may well get one or two new resort casinos and increased access to horse racing and betting. Hopefully, with initial signs of a few economic shoots emerging, the local gambling scene will see a much welcome rise in activity.