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Betting in Nicaragua

Published on: 01/02/2016

Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America but has a much smaller population than it neighbours, Honduras and Costa Rica. Most of the 6 million residents live in the capital Managua or one of six other major cities where Spanish is the national language and the Cordoba is the currency. From 1502, when Christopher Columbus first stepped foot in the region until 1821, Nicaragua was under colonial rule. Initially a Spanish colony, it was later fell under Mexican jurisdiction.

The country suffered from much political instability until the 1960s when the Central American Common market was established. The ruling government was overthrown in 1979 when the the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN) came to power following a civil war.

The new Sandinista government banned all forms of betting. After the elections of 1990, when Sandinista rule came to an end, this rule remained in place. The rules were finally relaxed in 1996 when a national lottery was founded. The scratch cards proved to be very popular with the locals.

Soon after, casinos started to appear at a steady rate. As of today, the country is home to more than a dozen gambling establishments hosting all manner of table, video and slot games. The capital alone boasts seven casino businesses, but the largest of all is the Pharaohs Casino located in Masaya, which hosts over 30 gaming tables and nearly 200 games machines.

In 2006, the FSLN President Daniel Ortega was re-elected to power, and it was under the guidance of the Sandinistas that Nicaragua passed the Casino and Gaming Room Control Act of 2011. As a result, Nicaragua now has a fully-licenced and regulated gambling industry.

Soon after, the Department of Casinos and Gaming Venues was handed the authority to issue gaming licenses and to collect any taxes due. The body is also responsible for enforcing regulations, such as establishing the age limit of 18 for entering a gambling establishment.

Thanks to the new system, Nicaragua now has a thriving gambling business offering many forms of gambling including casinos and poker halls. However, sports betting is still restricted and many Nicaraguan sportbooks and bookmakers still operate underground. Officially, sports wagers can only be placed in licensed casinos and sports bars.

Online betting remains outside of the new rules and as a result, that there are no Nicaragua-based internet betting facilities available to punters inside the country. With no domestic options available, customers are turning to foreign websites to fulfil their betting requirements. Nearly 500 overseas websites accept wager from Nicaragua, with around 100 providing information and support in the Spanish language. Nicaragua- friendly sites include:

Neighbouring nation Costa Rica also hosts around 50 gaming sites that cater for Nicaraguan customers and offer information in Spanish. Further reforms may be necessary if the country is to take advantage of the revenue that can be gained from this market.