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Betting in Costa Rica

Published on: 30/11/2015

Over the years, Costa Rica - located in Central America - has offered many types of gambling. Christopher Columbus first travelled to the east coast of the country in 1502, after which, the territory was taken over by the Spanish. By the middle of the 19th century, Independence was announced and later in 1889, democratic votes lead to the official declaration of state independence.

Unlike the other central South American countries, Costa Rica has experienced very little political disruption and since 1949, the government’s military forces have been absent. Due to the nation being fairly harmonious and the fact that the Costa Rican authorities have yet to implement betting regulations, the gambling industry has been able to thrive.

The Costa Rican government controls its national lottery which is a highly-favoured gambling activity amongst citizens. The lottery runs throughout the week, offering large winnings, and scratch cards are also available. Each year, a Christmas lottery also attracts major interest. There are numerous shops and kiosks that sell tickets to keen punters.

Gambling laws and regulations in Costa Rica are currently almost non- existent. Betting venues do not have to pay any gambling taxes or even have licences. Small betting companies have taken advantage of the situation and have located outlets all over the country. Suburban and rural restaurants and bars have facilitated their establishments with gaming machines for the local punters to enjoy.

Costa Rica has roughly 30 large gambling establishments and around 15 of them are located in San Jose area, others are to be found in holiday resorts and hotels. The Costa Rican locals recommend outsiders to avoid any non-regulated gambling venues and to keep their wagering within the places where international visitors are welcome.

The Fiesta Casino Hotel El Presidente, in Costa Rica’s capital of San Jose, is a large 24-hour gambling establishment that offers 5 casino games and over 200 slot machines. Punters must be 18 or over and are provided with free food and drinks while raffles are also drawn every hour.

Gambling on horse and dog racing is permitted in Costa Rica, although these activities have never been very popular. This might explain why the remaining race course was shut for service in the mid-nineties. Citizens can still bet on track racing via the US and other foreign countries.

Costa Rica is a very popular country for gambling enterprises; it is thought that approximately 300 betting companies have set up shops which in turn have created thousands of jobs. The overall stability of the country has been the main attraction to foreign gambling companies.

Any gambling company can trade via the internet, as long as they have invested in a data protection permit. Generally, these operations manage themselves as there are no regulative betting laws.

The leniency regarding the gambling laws in Costa Rica causes some friction and has given the countries gambling industry a disreputable name. Some of the companies running gambling activities have been blamed for fraudulent practices, however well known sportsbooks for example and Bodog host their betting services in Costa Rica.

When Laura Chinchilla was elected President in 2010, a move for new online gaming controls was proposed. These pending measures would impose a 0.5 % tax on gambling operations and require companies to apply and pay for a new gaming license every six years. As of today, hundreds of gambling web sites welcome wagering from the local citizens of Costa Rica, and almost half as many again have a registered address in the country.