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Betting in Venezuela

Published on: 08/08/2016

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is a South American country, bordered by Guyana, Brazil and Columbia. It has a population of approximately 33 million people and the official language spoken is Spanish. The capital city is Caracas and the local currency is the Fuerte. Venezuela became independent in 1811, after many years under Spanish rule. The area was part of Gran Columbia up until 1845, when its statehood was accepted. Unsteady politics, dictatorship and civil war all overshadowed the region during the 19th century.

In the 20th century, military coups held back chances for any true democratic elections to happen for almost sixty years. In 1999, Venezuela became a federal presidential republic and elected its 61st president.

Although the Government was that of a socialist nature, Venezuela has maintained its fondness of gambling. However, activities are rigidly managed and somewhat restricted. Casino venues, both brick and mortar and virtual are meticulously regulated. Horse racing is perhaps one of the most popular gambling activities in Venezuela. The nation has four thoroughbred racecourses, located in Valencia, Caracas, Bolivar City and Santa Rica.

The La Superintendencia Nacional de Actividades Hípicas or “Sunahip,” is a department of the Tourism Promotion Ministry, and is responsible for managing all pari-mutuel betting.

Sunahip is a member of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, who are based in France. Sunahip manages the statistics of all Venezuelan breeding and also organises and administers betting pools. Figures in 2010, show that more than €67.6 million worth of betting turnover was achieved and half of that amount was returned to the bettors. Venezuela has almost 2,000 thoroughbred mares and stallions on the register.

The casinos in Venezuela have a good reputation. In total, the nation has eight venues in different locations. Puerto La Cruz, Caracas, Pampatar, La Urbina, Maturin and Maracaibo each have one casino, and two more can be found in Porlamar. Venezuela’s biggest establishment is in Puerto La Cruz which houses some 25 gaming tables and 160 games machines.

Only sportsbooks operating within the licensed casinos venues themselves are legal. However this has not deterred unlawful gambling companies from setting up shop - often offering better odds than the casinos.

Lotteries and bingo are fully legal and are overseen by the government. Venezuela’s national lottery - known as Loteria Del Tachira - offers the game of Kino, which began life in 1991. The revenues are put towards state welfare projects and local sporting initiatives. Venezuela has two internet betting companies, CasinoOnAir and Casino Bar. They both offer gambling products using the English language and are based on Margarita Island, which is under Venezuelan control. The two companies are regulated by the Comision Nacional de Casino y Salas de Bingos. The Internet Watchdog Organization once advised customers to be cautious when placing bets with either company, as they may well be unscrupulous.

There are many off-shore internet betting websites who welcome play from the Venezuelans, some even provide information using the Spanish language including Paddy Power, William Hill, Ladbrokes and BetVictor.