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The Dominican Republic is the second largest country by area in the Caribbean, after Cuba. It shares an island with Haiti, although Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas by far, and the Dominican Republic is much better off financially, with an income per capita of about $13,000, almost 10 times Haiti’s. (1)
In spite of its modest size, the Dominican Republic has the seventh largest economy overall in Latin America and is relatively well developed and modernized. Tourism is a big driver of their economy and this is the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean, in an area where tourism is big anyway, and is the second most popular tourist destination for Americans after Mexico. (2)
What stands out even more in the Dominican Republic isn’t how much tourism they get, it’s how much gambling tourism that goes on here. While there are a lot of reasons to visit this country, gambling is high on the list, and they have embraced gambling here for quite a while now, and have a particularly welcome attitude toward it.
Gambling has been going on for some time, with lots of unregulated operations going on, and it wasn’t regulated and officially legalized until 1999. There had been some initial fears that regulated gambling would bring crime, and money laundering in particular, but regulation certainly does allow for more control over this, so these changes have been positive all around. (3)
The original intention of this law was to help promote gambling with tourists, and the casinos here do for the most part cater to them, but local residents also like to gamble, not only at casino gambling but with sports betting as well, so since then the law has evolved to become tailored to the needs of Dominicans as well as tourists.
So in addition to these larger casinos, which total 34, and some nice places to gamble at indeed, there are many other smaller places to gamble around the country, and in 2006 the Dominican government also made sports betting legal here, and there’s lots of betting shops around now to add to the variety that locals can engage in while complying with the law and also allowing the government to reap a share of the action. (4)
Online gambling was officially made legal as well in 2006, and the country also licenses online gambling sites and have had a few takers, most notably Amaya, who ended up buying Poker Stars recently. The focus with the regulated gambling sites are on casino and sports betting though, as is often the case with countries with a smaller presence in online gambling regulation.
Sports betting is very popular here though and this does cater to the local crowd well, and the size of the poker market here is way too small to attract any real interest in a domestic online poker site, and the major sites haven’t seen fit to relocate here, mostly due to other, more prominent gambling hubs gaining and retaining their business.
Playing Poker in the Dominican Republic
While Dominicans do like to gamble generally, the game of poker hasn’t really caught on that much among the local residents here for whatever reason. There is some poker played by Dominicans, both online and at the casinos, but once again the casinos are mostly designed for tourists.
While there is a decent amount of poker tables at them for a country this size, 30 poker tables spread across 15 different poker rooms, 30 poker tables just isn’t going to be able to accommodate all that much play when you are talking about a country of 10 million people. (5)
This country is fairly well developed as far as telecommunications go though, with about 60% of the people here having access to the internet, and there is quite a bit of online gambling that goes on here, most of it is casino gambling and sports betting, and poker hasn’t made much of a mark here yet on the online gambling scene. (6)
This could change with time though, but the game of poker isn’t one that has much of a history in Dominican culture, and most people don’t go to the casinos here, and learning to love a game does require a certain level of exposure, and the truth is that most Dominicans have not really achieved that level as of yet.
The hope though is that the barrage of poker that we see in the media might turn things around more at some point, but for the time being the market here is going the other way, as some poker rooms have seen fit to withdraw from this country, citing concerns over this being a “grey market,” but often times that translates into “too small of a market.”
So it’s more like when a market is very small, then online poker rooms seem to look for an excuse to exit the market, and while it’s true that the Dominican does have regulated online gambling and they don’t have a license, that’s really not a good reason or these sites would not be offering poker to other countries that regulate online poker where they don’t have a license.
So it’s a different situation when you have prohibited regulations such as those in countries like France, compared to what we could call enabling regulations such as the ones here, where the deal is if you want us to regulate you we will provide that service.
The difference is that prohibitive regulations come with prohibiting residents from playing at non regulated sites, and that’s not the case in the Dominican Republic, and residents can play at whatever poker sites will allow them with no interference from the government.
There’s also the growing land based poker scene to stimulate this, and it does to some degree, and there is at least a fairly modest contingent of online poker players from here, so it’s not as if no one plays it, and those who want to give it a try have nothing stopping them really.
Top Online Poker Sites for Players from the Dominican Republic
Only two of our top 5 online poker sites overall accept Dominicans, and we’re not going to water things down by adding lesser online poker sites, ones we don’t feel are the best, but the good news is that we do have two excellent picks for you, and both offer nice welcome bonuses for first time players.
888 Poker is our top rated online poker site overall, and the great news is that they have no problem with letting Dominican online poker players play on their site. They not only offer a nice welcome package for first depositors, they even have some free money for you if you aren’t even ready to deposit yet. This is a great site in every way, lots of traffic, fairly soft competition, great software, lots of different forms of poker to play, everything you’d want in a poker site really.
Black Chip Poker would be the last site to refuse players from certain countries, and players who play here can rest assured that they won’t be asked to leave at some point, and to give you an idea, Black Chip even still lets Americans play here even though almost all sites have left now. They deserve to be in our top 5 and are widely regarded now by many players and have attracted a strong following due simply to their providing some great poker.