Online casinos in Bolivia are plentiful due to lax gaming laws that do not address online gambling. Although the government does not actively regulate internet gambling, it also does not prohibit citizens from playing at offshore casinos. As a result, nearly every international brand in online gambling accepts customers from Bolivia.
The current situation is advantageous for players because we have many options as far choosing where we play. Furthermore, all the big online casinos that operate on the international stage provide Spanish translations of their websites and most employ Spanish-speaking customer service personnel.
In fact, the options are so plentiful that we recommend you exercise a little caution when choosing where to play casino games online. The Bolivian government’s lack of regulation means you’re on your own if you choose poorly and end up at an online casino that is untrustworthy or financially unstable.
Our advice for people in any country where internet gambling is unregulated is to choose casino sites that hold licenses in other countries that do regulate the industry. For example, the online casinos that we recommend on this page all hold active licenses from the UK Gambling Commission. The Gambling Commission is one of the most demanding regulators in the world and their seal of approval holds weight. The odds of anything happening to your money at a UK-approved online casino are nearly zero.
The only downside to there being no actual Bolivian online casinos headquartered here on domestic territory is a lack of support of the boliviano deposits. Every time you fund your account, your gambling account will automatically convert your currency into dollars, euros or pounds. Every bet you place will be in one of those three currencies, which will probably feel unfamiliar to you. The good news is that when you withdraw, your money will be converted back into bolivianos.
The Casino Industry in Bolivia
The Bolivian casino industry has a colorful history. All gambling was banned from the 1930s under a succession of governments before being reintroduced in 2002. The government authorized the first brick-and-mortar casino in 2002 and then the industry proliferated from there in a loosely-regulated environment.
Dozens of physical casinos opened shop in Bolivia and thousands of gaming machines were installed across the country by various investors. The people and government seemed happy with the status quo until an event halfway across the world triggered massive changes on the ground in Bolivia.
In 2009, Russian President Vladimir Putin instituted a near-complete ban on gambling in all but a handful of designated casino zones in remote parts of Russia. The prohibition put nearly half a million people out of work overnight and left those in the industry scrambling to make up for lost income.
Suddenly, the loosely-regulated country of Bolivia became an attractive market for Russian gambling entrepreneurs. Russian-backed groups flocked to Bolivia and began setting up physical gambling shops across the landscape.
Bolivia’s director of the lottery at the time, Carlos Bruno, expressed his frustration with the situation in an interview with the BBC. He explained that lax regulations, loopholes in the law and strict banking privacy regulations made it nearly impossible to spot corruption, let alone prosecute corruption.
Mr. Bruno also said that the inflow of capital – mostly from Russia and Brazil – was often connected to foreign mafias and other illegitimate sources. He also said that the plethora of small, shady gambling operations were often nothing more than fronts for widespread money laundering schemes.
The Bolivian government grew increasingly concerned with the massive influx of Russian-linked gambling shops and then set out on a mission to cull the industry. Bolivian lawmakers passed several measures to raise taxes, limit licenses and establish a new government regulatory authority (Autoridad de Fiscalizacion del Juego).
These changes resulted in a near-complete eradication of land-based casinos in Bolivia. After a cooling-off period, the Autoridad de Fiscalizacion del Juego began issuing licenses once again, albeit at a much slower rate.
To this day, Bolivian online casinos remain completely unregulated. No online gaming operations are headquartered in Bolivia, but plenty from other parts of the world are happy to provide their services to Bolivians with internet access. All you need is a connection to the internet and a little money to place your bets.
Wes Burns co-founded OnlineCasinoSites.com with a mission to help gamblers understand and navigate the regulated online casino market in all countries around the world. Wes is a respected gambling journalist, working in the industry since 2008.