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Puerto Rico is a semi-autonomous Caribbean territory of the United States, and for the most part operates as a separate country although it is still subject to the governance of U.S. federal law to a certain degree. It does not have political representation in Washington though and also lacks certain powers that U.S. states have. In the past there has been talk of making Puerto Rico a U.S. state nothing has come out of this yet.
While Puerto Rico is poorer than the poorest U.S. state, Mississippi, and almost half of Puerto Rico’s population lives below the poverty line, they have certainly benefited economically from being a U.S. possession. Puerto Rico has the highest per capita GDP in Latin America, at over $33,000.
It has a strong and very well developed economy for its size, with a population of about 3.5 million, and its leading economic driver is manufacturing, something you only see with more developed countries. (1)
While tourism plays a lesser role in Puerto Rico’s economy than some other Caribbean islands, they still do get a lot of tourists, with over 4 million visitors a year. A large number come from the United States, who don’t need a passport to enter, although they get visitors from a wide variety of different countries. (2)
Puerto Rico has quite a bit of legal and regulated gambling for an island of its size, with a total of 21 casinos, in addition to a casino cruise and a racetrack. The casinos here are located in 11 different cities, so they are pretty well dispersed within the island. (3)
As is typical in the Caribbean, the casinos here are mostly targeted towards tourists, although Puerto Rican residents are welcome at them as well. While Puerto Rico does have a lot of poor people, there are also a lot of people here who are fairly well off, and have the means to gamble at the major casinos, which tend to be out of reach of the population generally in many Latin American regions.
On the other hand, there are a lot of people who either can’t afford to gamble in the regular casinos or don’t wish to travel to them, and the way the law was constructed, the intention was to relegate gambling to these casinos only on the island, but the law isn’t said to cover “adult entertainment machines,” which is being interpreted by some as covering slot machines as well, and there are lots of slot parlors around the island that have taken advantage of this.
Whether these slot parlors are legal or not remains a matter of debate, but the larger casino operators are complaining that they are infringing upon their business, but on the other hand they do provide a popular land based gambling outlet for the residents here, even though they represent an expansion of the gambling scene that the government may not have intended. (4)
Puerto Rico has a wide variety of gambling options for the public, and aside from the casinos and the smaller slot parlors, there is also the lottery, bingo, horse racing, and various illegal gambling events such as cock fighting, dog fighting, and car racing. There used to be 125 cock fighting arenas here at one time when it is legal, and even though it’s not any more, it still goes on. (5)
Overall, gambling in Puerto Rico is wide open, and players have ample opportunity to gamble all they wish here, both online and offline.
Playing Poker in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico does have some land based poker available at several of their casinos, although only a limited amount. Hard core live players won’t have any problem finding a decent amount of action as long as they are willing to go to one of the casinos that offer it, and 5 of them do lay out poker on a full time basis, however there are only a total of 7 poker rooms on the island, so this is a pretty niche market to be sure. (6)
Other than that, players can play in private games if they can find them, or play on the internet. The internet has taken over the poker scene these days, and the overwhelming percentage of real money poker these days takes place online, and Puerto Rico is no exception.
Of course, with Puerto Rico being part of the United States, and with the way that poker rooms avoid the U.S. these days, and pretty much all of them do, it’s challenging to find a good online poker room to be able to play at. It’s not that they aren’t out there, but when you’ve culled the field to eliminate almost all of the good options, that’s going to make it more difficult for sure.
Poker is at least decently popular here, which isn’t the case in some Caribbean regions, and some of that may have to do with the influence of American culture here, and there’s certainly more of that since Puerto Rico is after all part of the U.S. Poker is certainly huge in the U.S., and it’s not anywhere near as big in Puerto Rico, but it does have its following.
It’s probably the case that the lack of options has probably stifled the online poker market quite a bit like it has on the mainland, and in spite of their still being some good options in the U.S., they just aren’t as well known, although they don’t have the traffic of Poker Stars and people are still lamenting about that, and quite a few grinders have moved to other countries so they can still play there.
Puerto Rico does have a high percentage of its population with internet access, about 75% of them, so that adds up to 2.7 million potential players. Puerto Rico does have regulated online gambling already, but it’s limited to horse racing only, although they do take a more progressive view of gambling than most states on the mainland do, with the exception of the ones that already have regulated online gambling anyway.
Top Online Poker Sites for Players from Puerto Rico
Perhaps at some point, they will bring in regulated poker here, but that’s probably a ways off, as poker really isn’t that big here yet. So for now, players are relegated to choosing from among the few sites that do accept them, although we do have a recommendation for you that will allow you to have the high quality experience that you seek and one comparable to the best online poker sites out there period.
Black Chip Poker is among our top 5 recommended online poker rooms in the world no matter where you live, and they are the only one that accepts players from Puerto Rico and almost all states in the United States as well.
There are a few concerns out there about U.S. facing poker rooms, and the biggest one is how well they deal with the challenges of moving money in and out of the poker rooms, and in particular, the speed, or lack of speed of withdrawals. The good news is that this has all been worked out much better lately within the industry as a whole, and this is the case at Black Chip as well, and the poker rooms that still struggle with this have pretty much fallen by the wayside now.
Black Chip also boasts a good amount of traffic, and that’s another concern that some of these poker rooms have, as you do want to play at a site which has enough traffic to make playing there worthwhile, and this is certainly the case here.
Overall, this is a good enough poker room to make our top 5 and we look at all the things that make a poker room good, and Black Chip Poker scores well. New players also get a nice bonus just for trying them out, and if you haven’t yet yourself, we recommend that you check them out.
1. Puerto Rico