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Betting in Bolivia

Published on: 30/11/2015

Following its separation from Spain in 1825, gambling was permitted in Bolivia for more than 100 years. However, following the country’s transition to a socialist republic in the 1930s, many industries were nationalised, and by 1938; gambling in the nation became completely illegal.

In 2002, following economic reforms initiated by President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada in 1993, the gambling ban was finally lifted. This caused delight amongst the citizens and soon after, betting venues and casinos began to appear all over the country.

Due to an absence of legislation, corrupt betting companies made the most of the situation. In 2006, the gambling mania halted for a short while when the Bolivian government apprehended many illegal gambling establishments. Some people thought that this would stop the gambling boom, however, this was not the case.

In 2009, Russia prohibited its own gambling industry and, being aware of Bolivia’s lenient betting regulations, Moscow-based businesses took the opportunity to start investing into the nation’s gambling businesses. The move was a huge success for Bolivia’s gambling industry and by 2010, the country’s gambling operations had doubled thanks to these Russian-backed ventures.

Punters from the age of 18 can enjoy gambling services in Bolivia. These include many non- Russian gambling establishments such as the Los Tajibos Hotel & Coliseum Casino in Santa Cruz, The Plaza Hotel in La Paz and the Hotel Portales in Cochabamba. The Moscow-based gambling business known as Ritzio International have rapidly become a significant presence throughout Bolivia, boasting fifteen establishments under the Bingo Bahiti brand name.

In March 2011, a new law, known as the Gambling Bill 971, was passed by President Evo Morales. The bill included significant tax rises for casinos (30%) as well as tax increases on client’s proceeds (15%). The move was taken to avoid foreign companies from monopolising the gambling industry. As a result of the bill, the Autoridad de Fiscalización y Control Social del Juego (AJ) was created. The group was put in charge of all gaming in Bolivia, and is accountable to the Ministry Of Finance. All matters regarding online or offline gambling are overseen by the AJ group.

It has been suggested that the harsh tax rises could result in a significant amount of casinos, bookies and poker venues shutting down, putting several thousand jobs at risk. There are also concerns that the new regulations will encourage corrupt gambling companies to once again flourish. Like many South Americans countries, the Bolivian state provides many Lotto games including The National Lottery. Approximately half of the proceeds are allocated to social schemes for the citizens of Bolivia

Internet bookies or casinos are not officially available in Bolivia. However, there are hundreds of web sites from abroad offering gambling services, including sportbooks, to Bolivian punters - often in the Spanish language. The Bolivian government happily permits this kind of activity.