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Central America Casinos and Gambling Law

This article was not written by an attorney and should not serve as legal advice. It is a summary of gaming laws in Central America.

Countries w/ gambling7
Cities with gambling35
Total casinos98
Gaming tables549
Slot machines15,353
Poker rooms20
Bingo halls13
Horse tracks0
Greyhound tracks0

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Central America - Casino law and gaming legislation

Friday Sep 20th, 2019

This article is not extensive and is intended only as a general guideline to the casino and gambling laws that govern this location. Let us have a look at the casino laws and their evolution in some of the countries:

Casino Laws in Belize:

The Prime Minister and Minister Responsible for Gaming Control in Belize, Musa, has approved new gambling regulations. There are adjustments to the online gaming regime for a more efficient processing and monitoring capacity, in addition to a reduction of licensing fees.

Casino Laws in Costa Rica:

Casino regulations were established in the year 1886 and 1992. Casinos developed in Costa Rica as a major source of tourist attraction during 1990. By 1999 there were about 30 casinos in Costa Rica. For casinos to be legal, they have to be accredited and approved by the Tourist Board of Costa Rica.

They must be situated in a hotel rated 3 stars or above. They should be atleast 100 meters (or one block) away from places of worship, hospitals, clinics and schools. Anyone under 18 years old is not allowed in the casinos.

If anyone failed to fulfill these requirements, it would call for imprisonment of the owner of the Casino and/ or a cancellation of the Casino’s license.

Casinos are also required to pay municipality operational fees, facility health permits, and any other tax applicable just like other businesses based in Costa Rica. In addition they pay an extra 10% on the monthly net revenues and for the number of game tables that they host they usually pay 50,000 colons ($162.00 exchange rate of October 10, 2000) per table.

In Costa Rica it is a crime to earn or lose money by placing a bet on the profit of a game, event, activity or behavior. Also by placing a bet in a game whose produce is based on people’s luck and not on their abilities and skills to play the game. Hence it is illegal to accumulate or earn money based on the outcome of bets or games such as Baccarat, dice, Twenty-one, Poker, Black jack, lotteries - except for the National Lottery managed by the Costa Rican organization called "Junta de Proteccion Social - Bingo - except those organized by the Red Cross and educational organizations such as Schools - and Roulettes.

However, it is legal to play any of the following games: Billiard, card games, Canasta, Draughts (U.S. checker), Domino, Casino, Rummy, Dart, 13, Caribbean Straight Poker, or any game where the person's abilities and skills will determine the outcome of the game. There are legal games according to the law as well as illegal games and games that are not clearly defined by law that are hosted by the casinos in Costa Rica. Some of the popular games that are played are rummy, and Caribbean Straight Poker. Games that are not clearly defined by law and are carried on in the Casinos of the country are certain types of games using the dice as well as Pai Gow - Chinese style Poker.

Casinos also host games that are prohibited by law such as Roulette and gambling machines. Roulette is outlawed by the following laws: Article 3 of the "Reglamento a la Ley de Juegos," January 24, 1974 decree # 3510-G, published in "el Alcance #15 de la Gaceta #21" on January 31, 1974, and " Reglamento a la Ley #3," on August 31, 1922.

Gambling machines are forbidden by the decree number 87,229 issued on June 13, 1978 that prohibits gambling machines. However, an appeal was filed against this decree; this appeal essentially permits casinos to host these machines until the appeal is considered.

It is against the law to either collect or pay monies for most of the bets and gambling games in Costa Rica. Therefore the gambling industry operates on a payment system to outperform these laws. This helps the casinos to hold the player legally liable for what they owe them or to be able to pay you at their facilities.

Casinos persuade the players to buy tokens that are used at their casino facilities, or they give the gamblers a credit line by signing letters of credits, promissory notes (I. O. U. notes), mortgages, or written agreements so that installments or collections can be performed and that they are still sheltered by regular business laws, and not gambling.

There are no laws in Costa Rica that protect or regulate either the gambler or the casino owner from collecting monies created by gambling.

Casino Laws in El Salvador:

Gambling and Gaming Machines are not prohibited to operate in El Salvador. However these gaming machines are subject to authorization by the Ministry of Finance and local municipalities. Roulette wheels, gambling tables, and any other item or article used for gambling must be approved.

Racinos in Central America

Racinos were not so popular till a few years back in Central America. Only one horse Racino was present in Panama City called the Hipódromo Presidente Remon. However betting is prevalent on sports such as racing on bikes, boats, and cycles and statistics indicate that this will soon gather more prominence.

Various legal and illegal casinos and Racinos of the continent of Central America help by contributing to the revenue generation and attracting of tourists. Hence, this leads to the birth of Casino laws.

Gaming Law in Central American countries: conclusion

There are cutting edge developments in gambling law in Central America. The world's newest technologies are also being brought into this side of the world. In other words, beautiful surroundings and highly developed gambling industry are going to give North America as well other favorite gambling destinations stiff competition.

Central America Casino Listings
Complete list of Central America casino in alphabetical order:

Newest Casinos

Dec 23

Casino Coclé

Penonome, Panama

Jan 1

The Placencia Casino

Stann Creek, Belize

Apr 8

Sortis Hotel Spa & Casino

Panama City, Panama

Sep 5

Ocean Club Casino

Panama City, Panama

Jun 1

Aurola Holiday Inn

San José, Costa Rica

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