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Guyana is a small country on the northern coast of South America, which was once a Dutch colony, and later became a British colony, when it was known as British Guiana. It is the only country in South America to have English as its official language.
While Guyana is located on the mainland of South America, it is considered part of the Caribbean, and the only Caribbean country not to be an island. Guyana has a population of only about 750,000. Its economy is mostly based upon agriculture, and it is the poorest of the 12 South American countries in terms of per capita GDP. (1)
Guyana has only been running their own country for a relatively short period of time, having only gained their independence in 1966. The economy has improved in Guyana over the last decade or so, although they still set in last place on the continent in terms of average wealth and income, but they are catching up. They are at least no longer the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, second only to Haiti, and are now on a course to more economic stability and growth.
Gambling in Guyana, or at least gambling at common gaming houses, is illegal by way of the Gambling Prevention Act, and given the title of this act, this is not a country who are all that receptive to gambling, given they are clearly looking to prevent it. The law makes both operating and playing in common gaming houses illegal. (2)
In spite of this, Guyana does have a casino, the Princess Casino, although it is set up exclusively for tourists, and Guyanese residents are not permitted to enter or play there, or that’s the intention anyway at least.
However, the law specifies that only people staying at the hotel and their guests, and foreign nationals, may be allowed into the casino, so what some Guyanese people are doing is booking rooms at the hotel so they can play in the casino, or having people staying at the hotel invite them in as guests, and this appears to be loopholes that lawmakers seem to have overlooked. (3)
Some of course want the casino to be opened up to Guyanese as well, but the government here seems to be taking a protectionist stance, or perhaps doesn’t want their people to further their gambling habits, while others do not see the justification for such a prohibition, and the debate wages on.
There are strong feelings in Guyana that gambling does public harm, and that view will have to change before we see any kind of real expansion of gambling here, particularly gambling that is targeted towards their own people.
There has at least been some talk of Guyana loosening these requirements, and a former president of Guyana seemed to be in favor of that a few years ago, comparing this segregation to apartheid. There hasn’t been any change of heart on this as of yet though. (4)
Playing Poker In Guyana
The casino that Guyana does have is a fair sized one, with 16,000 square feet of gaming space, and 16 table games including live poker. So if you can gain entrance to the Princess Casino, you can play a little live poker.
The underground gambling scene doesn’t seem to be that significant in Guyana, and the police are definitely on the case here, and even home games aren’t safe, as evidenced in a recent series of raids involving 6 private homes, where 22 players were arrested. When you see an operation like this targeting home games, you know that they are serious. (6)
This is likely the tip of the iceberg though, as it’s not particularly easy to bust home poker games, but players who play in them are subject to some real risks. This is just one instance of gambling busts here, and although they aren’t that frequent, they do happen.
Playing online poker is a much safer affair of course. However, not all online poker sites dabble in the Guyanese poker market, partly due to its very small size, but also due to the fact that Guyanese aren’t allowed to gamble legally, although the law does only concern itself with land based gambling, and it’s hard to imagine how playing at home on your computer would make it a common gaming house under the definition that Guyana’s law provides.
Poker is a game that the Guyanese at least have some interest in, and one of their native sons, Guyanese born Victor Ramdin, is a successful poker pro and has won a WPT title in addition to being a member of Team Poker Stars, so that has probably helped popularize the game, although Ramdin currently lives in the United States. (7)
About a third of the Guyanese population have access to the internet, and therefore can gamble all they want provided they have a little money to deposit, so the heck with the Princess Casino, many of them can just gamble and play poker in the comfort of their own homes without going to any hassle or inconvenience at all.
There are still some very good online poker sites that accept Guyanese players, so regardless of whether the government thinks they should be gambling or not, they can just take matters into their own hands and just do it anyway.
Top Online Poker Sites Accepting Players from Guyana
We have two very good recommendations for you if you are from Guyana and are up for some great online poker. Both of these sites will also pay you to entice you to give them a try, where you’ll be rewarded with some nice poker cash to help welcome you.
With 888 Poker, they will even reward you if you don’t have any money to deposit yet, with their no deposit bonus, which is the best in the business. You will definitely want to deposit and keep playing there, as this is our highest ranked online poker room in the world, and players from Guyana are fortunate that they still take players from here. 888 Poker is a top notch site in every regard.
As an alternative, Black Chip Poker also accepts players from Guyana, and Black Chip is also well known for taking players from almost every country in the world, including the United States, so they don‘t get scared off anywhere near as easily as other sites do. Black Chip Poker is a newer site but they have really made their mark and have earned a lot of loyal followers already.