The list of The Gambia’s casinos is surprisingly short for the country. While it is a small country, essentially the valley of the river Gambia, it has an open and thriving economy. It has also become one of the great destinations for European tourists in search of some winter sun.
In fact the country deliberately set out to become a tourist magnet for those escaping from the severity of a Northern European winter: something they’ve managed to do very well. So the shortness of the list of Gambia’s casinos is therefore something of a puzzle, it’s simply odd that there aren’t more.
That sort list of Gambia’s casinos in fact only contains two places: On Cape St Mary there is the Fajara Casino Club offering blackjack, slots, roulette and baccarat (very much a European gambling game and one the presence here shows who the likely players at the casino are).
There is also in Kanifing the Kololi Casino, offering again roulette, blackjack, baccarat and in addition, poker.
One of the interesting things about the country is that it was both the first and the last of the British colonies in Africa. The location and the natural port at the head of the great river (and the fresh water of the river itself) made it a natural stopping place for sailing ships to come in and restock their supplies before going on further afield.
A rather darker part of the country’s history was the associated part it played in the slave trade. That very port and the fact that ships were stopping there anyway made it one of the great trading centers of the trade across the Atlantic. In fact, when Alex Haley wrote his familial autobiography, ‘Roots’, he was able to trace his own line to Kunta Kinte, born in a small village on the north bank of the river. Some of the country’s tourist trade is thus based, that part of it which isn’t on Europeans looking for sun, on Americans rediscovering their roots.
In common with many other African counties the Gambia depended in the past upon the export of a commodity for it’s keep, in their case groundnuts (peanuts). While this is still important the dual industries of the port itself (much trans-shipment is done here) and the ever growing tourist industry have now taken up much of the strain.
We can expect, as that tourist trade continues to grow in both size and sophistication, for the list of Gambia’s casinos to grow.
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by Adel Awwad