Black Market for Betting in Bahamas Exceeds $700 Million


Posted: November 21, 2014

Updated: June 4, 2017

A recent report found that the blackjack market gambling industry in the Bahamas out-earns the

legal industry by more than two-fold, leaving the authorities scrambling to improve regulation.

The Bahama’s Tourism Minister Olbie Wilchcombe recently admitted to the Guardian that most of the

gambling and betting activities going on in the Bahamas are off the books. The small island nation is a

popular gambling destination for North Americans, and its licensed casinos did roughly $300 million in

turnover in 2013.

Not a paltry sum, but according to a recent report commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism, black

market internet betting sites in the Bahamas did a whopping $700 million in turnover over the same


The authorities plan to regulate rather than prohibit

Known as “webshops” in the local parlance, these small betting operations pay no taxes. Rather than

shut them all down, the government plans to get in on the action by issuing licenses and collecting taxes

from the burgeoning industry.

Wilchcombe recently met with 16 webshop operators, informing them that the government was

planning to issue eight licenses and that the rest would be shut down: “You will not have 16 licenses”. 

However, it is not clear how regulators plan to restrict the operations of unlicensed webshops, given the

difficulty they’ve had enforcing gambling laws in the Bahamas in the past.

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