Simon’s Guide to St. Maarten Casinos and Gambling

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St. Maarten (and St. Maarten) casinos and gambling guide

As is usually the case with caribbean island-states, tourists form the core player base of St. Martin casinos and other gambling facilities. St. Martin is an island in the northeast Caribbean, approximately 300 km east of Puerto Rico. The 87-square-kilometre island is divided roughly 60/40 between France and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The two parts are roughly equal in population. It is the smallest inhabited sea island divided between two nations. The southern Dutch part is called St. Maarten and is one of the four countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The northern French part is the Collectivité de St.-Martin (Collectivity of St. Martin) and it is an overseas collectivity of France.

Needless to say, the island is divided in terms of gambling laws also. On the French part, French gambling statutes apply (as to all of the country’s overseas territories). However, the Dutch side (St. Maarten) is autonomous from the Netherlands and has its own laws and official stance on gambling.

Generally, the French side is said to be less developed. This is well reflected in the number of casinos and gambling establishments as well. Dutch St. Maarten has many casinos – some of which operate sports books as well. The French side reportedly has no casinos, whatsoever.

As for online gambling, to the French side of the island, strict French laws apply. France introduced an open market in 2010 (as opposed to the monopoly that existed before, where only the FDJ was allowed to offer online gambling in the country and its overseas territories, legally). The French gaming authority (ARJEL) issues licenses and actively blocks unlicensed operators. Moreover, under law No 2010-476 of 12 May 2010, usually referred to as the French Gambling Act*, only online poker, sports and horse betting are legal. However, players of unlicensed websites are not prosecuted.

The Dutch side of St. Martin does not currently have a legal framework for licensing and overseeing online gambling (or land based, for that matter). St. Maarten did ‘inherit’ the former Dutch Antilles’ State Ordinance for Hazard Games (PB 1993, no. 63), that allowed for the issuance of gambling licenses (including online gambling licenses). However, authorities recently introduced a moratorium on gambling licenses on St. Maarten, until the situation is clear and a detailed gambling statute is crafted. Illegal casino gambling, sports betting and other forms of illegal wagering are abundant on this side of the island**.

 

*Source: Online gambling: Finnish and French models

**Source: ICLG – Dutch Caribbean – Gambling 2016

 

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Casino gambling in St. Maarten

 

Online casino gambling in St. Maarten: Dutch side: not regulated, French side: illegal, but players are not prosecuted

 

There are many casinos in St. Maarten, the two larges such establishments are the Princess Casino and Casino Royale. Despite the moratorium on new licenses, existing venues are tolerated.
In the future, authorities plan to allow only 10 standalone casinos on this part of the islands and require resorts to have above 200 rooms in order to be eligible for a casino license. Currently, local residents are only allowed to enter a casino 4 times a year. However, this law is reportedly largely unenforced*.

The French side, however, has no land based casinos.

As for online gambling, the authorities in St. Maarten do not issue licenses to online casino operators, but my research indicates, that no regulations exist that would outlaw or issue an ISP ban on foreign online casinos or gambling sites – or if they do, they’re not enforced.

The French side falls under French jurisdiction, which means, that online casino gambling is illegal. However, players are not prosecuted by French law.

 

*Source: Rules Of The Game – The Government’s Casino policy

 

 

Bingo in St. Maarten

 

Online bingo in St. Maarten: Dutch side: not regulated, French side: illegal, players are not prosecuted

 

Bingo halls exist on the Dutch side of the island, inside legally operating casinos (Tropicana Casino, located near Simpson Bay reportedly operates a 90 seat bingo hall). Even though French laws allow for the operation of legal bingo halls, the French side of the islands seem to have none.

Online bingo – as all other kinds of online gambling – is practically unregulated in Dutch St. Maarten. Although land-based bingo is legal and regulated in France, only online poker, sports and horse betting operators are eligible for a licence in the country and its overseas territories. That leaves players from the French side of St. Martin without any legal options to play bingo online. However, French law does not criminalise playing on unlicensed foreign platforms, so residents can access such sites without legal consequences.

 

 

 

Poker in St. Maarten

 

Online poker in St. Maarten: Dutch side: not regulated, French side: legal, requires license

 

Basically all St. Maarten casinos (on the Dutch side) operate poker tables. The French site reportedly has no such venues, so players in the mood for a game of poker need to venture to the other part of the island.

Online poker is unregulated in St. Maarten and legal in France (and therefore the French side of St. Martin). However, only on sites of operators that applied for, and obtained a licence from ARJEL – the French gambling authority. Individual players who play on unlicensed foreign platforms are not prosecuted, though.

 

 

Sports betting in St. Maarten

 

Online sports betting in St. Martin: Dutch side: not regulated, French side: legal, licensed

 

On the Dutch side of the islands (St. Maarten) land based sports betting is huge, both in legally operating casinos and illegal venues. The French part is not big on sports betting – there are no reported land based betting shops there.

Online betting is – in practice – unregulated on the Dutch side of the island, while in French St. Martin betting sites licensed in mainland France are legally accessible for the locals. Players are not prosecuted for placing bets with unlicensed foreign online bookmakers either.

 

 

 

Lottery in St. Maarten

 

Online lottery in St. Maarten: Dutch side: not regulated, French side: legal, state monopoly

 

People of France and all its overseas territories can participate in the French national lottery conducted by FDJ and the Euro Millions as well. All of these games are accessible through online platforms. Even though St. Maarten (the Dutch side) does not operate a national lottery, they’re part of the Caribbean Lottery, which offers various lottery type games and scratch cards. The products of the company are available for residents of Anguilla, Antigua, Barbados, St. Kitts Nevis, and the US Virgin Islands. However, the company does not operate an online platform.

Players on neither side of the island are prosecuted for participating in foreign online lottery draws.

 

 

 

Bitcoin gambling in St. Maarten

 

Bitcoin gambling in St. Maarten: Dutch side: not regulated, French side: unknown, players are not prosecuted

 

Bitcoin gambling, like all other forms of online gambling, is largely unregulated on St. Maarten.

The legal status of Bitcoin gambling on the French side of the island is unclear. I couldn’t unearth any precedent, where French authorities licensed a Bitcoin gambling site or authorised any of their licensees to accept Bitcoins from their players. However, there is also no reported case, where they refused a possible licensee a licence, because it wanted to accept wagers in cryptocurrencies. One thing is for certain: residents of France and its overseas territories are not prosecuted for placing bets online in Bitcoins on Bitcoin gambling websites.

 

 

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If you have questions or any feedback don’t hesitate to drop a comment below. Please let me know in the comments section if you think we might have gotten something wrong or if you have additional information, clarification about the legal status of online gambling in this country.

 

This page is part of Simon’s List – Legal Status of Online Gambling – a definitive guide to the legal status of all forms of online gambling activities in every country around the world.

 

Last updated: 2015.1.25.

 

Summary
Simon's Guide to Saint Martin Casinos and Gambling
Article Name
Simon's Guide to Saint Martin Casinos and Gambling
Description
An overview of the legal status of various forms of online gambling in Saint Vincent. The islands is divided into a Dutch and a French part. Gambling laws on the two sides of the island differ considerably.
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