Bahamas Travel Guide: Gambling in the Bahamas
For visitors who have toured the extravagant resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, exploring the interior of Atlantis Resort for the first time has a way of bringing you back to Sin City.
Domed ceilings and towering columns highlight palatial architecture, marble and granite span the room from floor to ceiling and modern artwork adorns every available wall. And just like in Las Vegas, that immaculate gallery-like ambience soon gives way to the sights and sounds of action: cards being shuffled, chips being stacked and slot machines sounding off to announce the latest winner.
When you near the center of Paradise Island, between Coral Towers to the west and Royal Towers to the east, Atlantis Resort reveals yet another hidden treasure: a full-fledged casino that rivals many of the megaresorts in America, Europe and Australia.
More than 700 slot machines with a wide range of coin denominations from $0.01 to $100 and the latest themes and titles are on site, many of them clustered underneath a gorgeous glass sculpture by famed artist Dale Chihuly.
The table gaming area runs up to 85 games at once, spreading classics like blackjack, baccarat, craps and roulette. Punters can also place their sports bets at the Pegasus Race and Sports Book. Perfect summertime temperatures mean that guests at Atlantis Resort never lack for outdoor enjoyment, but the inclusion of a cutting-edge casino complements the serene setting perfectly.
Many visitors to the area aren't even aware of the casino upon booking their trip; others simply see it as an afterthought. But even five minutes inside will show why Atlantis Resorts is home to one of the most prestigious poker tournaments of the year.
The Law of the Islands
If you consider gambling to be a regular hobby, chances are you ran a search for applicable laws in the Bahamas before booking your trip.
The results of that search may have been confusing, too, as many resources will inform readers that gambling is banned by law throughout the entire country. While this is technically true, the restrictions on casino games and other forms of gambling only apply to Bahamian citizens. Tourists arriving at Atlantis Resort, or anywhere throughout the Bahamas for that matter, are free to enjoy casino gaming wherever it is made available.
The Lay of the Land
The Atlantis Resort casino is housed within an enormous 100,000-square-foot building that directly links Coral Tower to Royal Tower. The venue offers the full spectrum of casino gaming with slot machines and table games lining the expansive floor. Here are some of the games you will find:
Slots enthusiasts can enjoy the most modern themes and titles on everything from traditional three-reel designs to interactive video slots. If you're new to slots and want to try it out without spending any cash then there is also complementary slots play available. Free Daily Slot Tournaments are great fun and have decent prizes too. Winners pocket $100 worth of free spins, the runner-up receives $50 in slot comps and much more.
All of your favorites are here, with baccarat played in a special VIP-style lounge and blackjack running around the clock surrounding the Temple of the Sun.
Other table games onsite include mini-baccarat, craps, roulette, Let It Ride Progressive Poker, Three Card Progressive Poker and Ultimate Texas Hold'em Progressive Poker.
Although the last three games include the phrase "poker," they're actually hybrid table games, and thus don't follow the traditional rules of poker you're used to from tournaments or cash games. If you prefer playing classic no-limit Texas hold'em (NLHE) over table games against the dealer, read on to find out how guests at Atlantis Resort can get in the game.
Race and Sports
Even after departing home and heading for Paradise Island, you can still support your favorite sports teams - or simply put some dough down on the sharp side of a good game - by heading to the Pegasus Race and Sports Book.
The board posts up to the second odds and lines and, and every major league and race track throughout North America is available to bet on.
Gambling in the sun
Gambling can be great fun, but sitting inside while your friends frolic around the pool and soak in the sun isn't always appealing. Thankfully, Atlantis Resort has you covered with Cain at the Cove, an exclusive swimming pool area available to adults only.
The 9,000-square-foot Ultra Pool has two separate infinity pools that are elevated above-ground level to offer stunning views of the Caribbean Sea below.
Cain at the Cove features 20 private cabanas and The Cove Pool Café. Poolside concierges will bring refreshments while you enjoy the mini-craps table and six blackjack tables on the premises.
PokerStars Championship Bahamas is Back
Although the Atlantis Resort casino doesn't contain a full-time poker room, the property's connection to the poker world extends back for more than a decade.
Paradise Island has played host to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) since 2005 following the tournament series' debut in 2004. That year saw the PCA held aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, but tournament organizers decided to depart for solid land, and the PCA has been an annual Atlantis Resort tradition ever since.
Offering a comprehensive schedule of events, and included within the European Poker Tour (EPT) banner between 2008 and 2010, the PCA became an essential stop along the global tournament circuit. Serving as a "spring break" style complement to the World Series of Poker (WSOP) summer camp theme, the PCA regularly attracts elite touring pros from around the world who are eager to experience poker in paradise.
The PCA's showcase tournament, a no limit hold'em Main Event, has been won by poker luminaries like Gus Hansen (2004), Bertrand "Elky" Grospellier (2008), Galen Hall (2011) and Mike Watson (2016) over the years, lending the series a certain sense of prestige. Between 2006 and 2015, the PCA Main Event created a millionaire with each year's champion.
In recent years, the PCA expanded to include high roller and super high roller events, creating additional opportunities to chase seven-figure scores. Elite pros like Eugene Katchalov (2011), Scott Seiver (2013), Vanessa Selbst (2013) and Steve O'Dwyer (2015) have all won more than $1 million by winning nosebleed-stake events at the PCA.
Starting in 2017, the PCA's name was officially changed to PokerStars Championship Bahamas, but aside from that, the series' spirit lives on. The poker world will descend on Paradise Island between Jan. 6 and Jan. 14 for the first-ever PokerStars Championship Bahamas, to be held at Atlantis Resort.
In total, 92 events will be on the schedule, with most days featuring a dozen tournaments running concurrently. The festivities kick off on Jan. 6 with the highly anticipated $100,000 buy in Super High Roller. Players who can't afford to drop six figures so easily can hop in several events with low buy-ins between $110 and $330 on opening day alone.
While NLHE is obviously the game of choice in most events, poker variants like pot-limit Omaha (PLO) and seven-card stud, along with mixed games like H.O.R.S.E. and H.O.S.E., also get their due.
The PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event begins on Jan. 8 with the first of two starting flights.
If you've never been to the an event like this before, or just want to win your way in on the cheap, PokerStars is running a full schedule of online satellites and qualifiers. Buy-ins for these PokerStars Championship Bahamas qualifiers range from the micro stakes to mid-range and up, but you can secure a $10,000 PokerStars Championship prize package, which includes a $5,000 Main Event seat, by landing the jackpot in a $10 Spin & Go tournament.
The PokerStars Championship Bahamas doesn't start for more than a month, so players all over the world have plenty of time to win their way to paradise courtesy of PokerStars.