The gaming laws in many Latin American countries are outdated and do not yet address online gambling, but the market is growing as a whole. A few countries have already amended their laws to regulate online casinos in Latin America while others are in the process of doing so.
A handful of countries including Mexico and Brazil have made significant strides on the regulatory front and are becoming ever-more attractive markets for the international online gambling industry. Slowly but surely, the Latin American market is transforming itself into an attractive target for the world’s major gaming companies.
Latin American Casino Sites
However, the majority of the countries in Latin America have not yet taken up the online gambling issue. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for players. All it means for players is we have many options to choose from as most of the world’s large casino sites accept customers from the region.
This page serves as an introduction to the Latin American online gambling market. We can find some value in looking at the region as a whole, but it is necessary to consider each country individually in order to understand the current state of online gambling where you live. Below, we provide a brief overview of the online gaming situation in each country.
Argentinian gambling law is a complex affair due to gambling being regulated at the provincial level rather than the federal level. As such, each province has the authority to regulate online gambling and internet casinos as it sees fit. The province of Misiones issued an online gambling licensed to a company at one point but later revoked that license.
Efforts are underway to revise the country’s gambling laws and establish a nationwide system to replace the current province-by-province method of gambling regulation. Those efforts have yet to materialize in real world results, but online casinos in Argentina remain populate nonetheless; people simple use the internet to visit casino sites headquartered overseas.
Read more: Argentinian Casino Sites
Bolivian casino sites operate in a relatively free environment due to a lack of regulation addressing gambling regulation. No casino sites are headquartered here, but locals are free to visit offshore casino websites in order to play for real money online.
The brick-and-mortar gambling industry has had its ups and downs over the past decade. After Russia instituted a near-complete ban on all gambling in 2009, many Russians made their way to Bolivia in order to set up shop in a country with lax gaming laws. Bolivian authorities grew concerned over the influx of foreign gambling operators and moved to cut way back on the local industry. Today, gambling is a much smaller industry in Bolivia.
Bolivian casinos are now licensed and regulated by La Autoridad de Fiscalización del Juego (AJ).
Read more: Online Casinos in Bolivia
Brazil’s gaming laws are in a state of change at the moment. Current gaming laws do not address online casinos in Brazil, but proposed changes to the law could come into play shortly and provide legal clarity for the industry as a whole.
The future of online gambling in Brazil depends on the direction taken by lawmakers over the next year or so. Multiple proposals to regulate both online and real-world gambling have been put forth in recent years and it appears that new laws are imminent.
All indications are that brick-and-mortar casinos in Brazil will be legal and regulated in the near future, but the fate of online gambling is uncertain. Various news sources have reported at different times that Brazil may open the market to competition, restrict online gambling to one state-approved monopoly provider or ban it altogether.
In the meantime, players are able to visit online casinos with the help of the internet. Most international casino sites do accept Brazilian customers today.
Read more: Brazilian Casino Sites
The most recent gambling laws in Chile authorize and regulate brick-and-mortar casinos in Chile with the Superintendencia de Casinos de Juego (SCJ) tasked to supervise the industry, issue licenses and so on. Online gambling is not regulated in Chile.
Although there have been several efforts to legalize online gambling in Chile in recent years, nothing has come of those efforts to date. The current gaming laws prohibit the operation of casino sites in Chile, but nothing stops players from visiting offshore online casinos to get their gambling fix.
Colombia has been one of the proactive Latin American countries in addressing online gambling. Legislation approved in 2016 established a legal framework by which Colombian casino sites and other online gambling operators can acquire licenses to serve the market legally.
Legal online gambling in Colombia is a fairly recent development as of this writing and bears watching for developments. State gambling regulator Coljuegos has stated it may implement internet blocking mechanisms to prevent access to unlicensed online casinos in Colombia and possibly even punish players who break the law.
Brick-and-mortar casinos have long been legal in Colombia and now operate under the supervision of Coljuegos, which was formed in 2011 after the previous regulatory agency was shuttered due to corruption and incompetence.
Read more: Online Casinos in Colombia
Costa Rica has one of the more unique legal environments concerning gambling. The government issues business licenses to online casino sites, but local online casinos are not permitted to do business with locals. The end result is Costa Rican casino sites are not actually open to Costa Ricans.
Locals are prohibited by law from participating in gambling, but the government does nothing to prohibit locals from visiting online casinos headquartered in other countries such as the UK. In other words, local casino sites cannot do business locally but foreign casinos can. It’s a bit of an odd setup, but it works out well for everyone involved. Costa Ricans have access to a long list of high quality gambling sites located around the world.
Cuba was a glitzy gambling destination back in the 1950s, but the Castro regime enacted a prohibition of all gambling that remains intact today even after the death of the communist leader. Major legal and logistical hurdles would need to be overcome for a gambling industry to revive itself once again in Cuba.
Cuban casino sites are not mentioned in local gaming laws, but the broad gambling prohibition applies to all forms of gambling. Operators and players alike face serious penalties if caught offering or participating in gambling. It remains unclear at this time if Cuban authorities make an effort to prosecute individuals who visit foreign casino sites. In any case, a majority of international gambling websites do accept Cuban customers.
Land-based casinos and online casino sites are legal in the Dominican Republic. The government requires brick-and-mortar casinos to be associated with hotels in a bid to keep gambling tied primarily to tourism but local residents are permitted to visit and play at these casinos.
Online gambling is legal and there is even a means by which casino sites can receive a license from the Dominican government. Just one gaming company has ever gone through the full licensing process and that one does not run an actual gambling website in the Dominican Republic. Locals must therefore rely on foreign casino sites that accept Dominicans.
In a 2011 referendum, Ecuadorian voters moved to ban all gambling businesses and slot machines should be banned nationwide. President Rafael Correa then put the plan into motion with an executive order that gave all Ecuadorian casinos and gambling businesses six months to close shop.
Legal gambling has been all but dead in Ecuador ever since. As you would expect, there are no legal online casinos in Ecuador. Fortunately, there are no laws that make it a crime for locals to visit online casinos based out of other nations.
El Salvador’s laws prohibit gambling on paper, but the people have been so insistent on having their gambling that the government has given up enforcing the ban. Two full-fledged casinos now operate in El Salvador along with a number of smaller gambling establishments.
Online gambling has yet to be addressed by the law and no casino sites operate from within El Salvador. Although the law does not exactly permit online gambling, neither does it prohibit residents of El Salvador from playing online at offshore casino sites. All of the world’s biggest online gaming operators accept customers from El Slavador.
French Guiana operates under the same gambling laws that are in force in France. Real world casinos are legal in French Guiana under this system, but as of today no brick-and-mortar casinos are in operation.
The gambling laws of France permit online sports betting and poker but prohibit online casino games such as roulette, blackjack and slot machines. Thus, there are no legal casino sites in French Guiana. Players do have the option to visit foreign casinos as long as local internet service providers do not block access to those websites.
Like French Guiana, Guadeloupe casinos are subject to French law. Two land-based casinos operate in Guadeloupe and a number of sports betting websites and online poker rooms are licensed to offer their services in France and Guadeloupe by extension.
Online casinos remain prohibited and internet service providers have been directed to block access to casino sites in Guadeloupe. Even so, players do manage to evade internet blocks and play online at foreign websites.
Ancient laws in Guatemala supposedly prohibit all gambling, but the law is widely disregarded and a number of brick-and-mortar casinos operate in full view of the public. This is not an ideal situation for players or operators, so the government has made several efforts in past years to regulate the industry and establish a national control board. Those efforts appear to have stalled over the last couple years.
It should come as no surprise that online gambling is also not regulated. There are no Guatemalan casino sites headquartered here, but players are able to visit online casinos based out of other countries.
As the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere, Haiti does not have much of a gambling industry. There are reportedly one or two legal brick-and-mortar casinos in Haiti, but we cannot speak to the quality or reputation of those casinos. All in all, Haiti has more pressing issues than dealing with gambling at this point.
Haitian law takes no stance on the legal status of online casinos. Residents are free to visit offshore casinos, but know that not all international casino sites accept customers from Haiti due to the difficulty in processing payments.
Honduran gaming laws date back to 1977 and have not changed much since, although there have been some efforts to update the law in recent years. Currently, brick-and-mortar casinos are legal and can be licensed by the government. There are a few larger casino/hotel combinations as well as a smattering of smaller gaming parlours directed more towards locals.
Online casinos and gambling sites are not addressed by existing gaming laws in Honduras. As such, no gaming sites are headquartered on Honduran soil. Players, however, are free to visit foreign casino sites as they wish. The majority of the big, international online casinos are Spanish-friendly and will have no problems processing your deposits or withdrawals.
As an overseas region of France, Martinique operates under French gaming law. Brick and mortar casinos, sports betting sites and online poker sites are all legal here provided they are authorized by the French regulator ARJEL. Currently, two brick-and-mortar casinos operate in Martinique:
French/Martinique gambling laws prohibit the operation of online casinos and local internet service providers have been asked to block access to foreign gambling sites. Even so, a decent number of foreign online casinos accept customers from Martinique.
Mexico is in the process of updating its gambling laws to account for online casinos, poker sites and sportsbooks. Brick-and-mortar casinos are legal and nearly 300 operate across the country at present. A couple of casinos sites have been licensed in Mexico at one point, but the majority of the business still goes to offshore providers who provide Spanish-language websites.
There have been several efforts in past years to update Mexico’s gambling laws, but nothing has come of those efforts to date. It seems likely Mexico will update its gaming laws soon as both lawyers and industry groups have been pushing for something to happen on the legislative front. Mexico is a gambling market the industry should watch carefully over coming years.
For now, players remain free to visit any of the hundreds of casino sites that accept Mexican customers.
Current Nicaraguan gambling laws came into effect in 2011 in order to regulate and control land-based casinos across the country. There are 10 full-fledged casinos located across three major cities. Nicaragua also has a national lottery but does not authorize other forms of gambling.
Online casino sites are not regulated, licensed or allowed to operate inside Nicaragua. However, international online casinos do accept customers from Nicaragua and the government has so far made no effort to prevent citizens from placing wagers online.
Panama licenses and regulates both real world and online casinos. Land-based casinos are plentiful and a few casino sites have been established in Panama since it began issuing licenses to online casinos back in 2002.
Players should take note that an online gambling license from Panama is not a guarantee of safety or legitimacy. Panama is notorious for taking licensing fees from gambling sites and then not taking much interest in their operation after that. For the most part, online casinos targeting the United States go to Panama for licensing.
Some Panamanian casino sites are safe; others are not. Players considering a casino licensed in Panama should do their research to make sure the site is legitimate. If you live in Panama, you are not obligated to play at local gambling sites. You may also visit offshore casino sites.
Read more: Online Casinos in Panama
Gambling has been legal in Paraguay for decades thanks to relaxed gaming laws and a pro-gambling populace. Laws that are currently in place do not address online gambling, but that could change within the next few years as new gambling laws have been proposed and submitted to congress.
The Paraguayan government does not license or regulate online casinos, but it does not stop people from visiting foreign online casinos. The government does, however, crack down harshly on illegal gambling operations located in-country. It’s fine to play online, but would not be a good idea to host your own underground casino.
Peru is home to a large and profitable gambling industry backed by laws that opt for smart regulation rather than half-hearted prohibitionary measure like many of Peru’s Latin American neighbors. There are dozens of brick-and-mortar casinos in operation with oversight and regulation provided by the Dirección General de Juegos de Casino y Máquinas Tragamonedas (official website here).
Peruvian casino sites are also regulated and can receive operating license from the government. Outside reports have stated that Peru does not regulate online casinos very well, so players are advised to proceed with caution. The most reputable casino site to receive a license to date is Betsson.com. Individuals also have the option to visit foreign casinos headquartered overseas.
Puerto Rico mostly follows the United States’ lead in regulating gambling activities. Real world casinos are permitted and there are nearly two dozen in operation across the country. The casino industry in Puerto Rico is healthy and well-regulated. Sports betting is not permitted, but Puerto Rico does allow horse racing betting.
Online gaming is prohibited for the most part in Puerto Rico. As a US territory, Puerto Rico is subject to the same basic set of laws that govern the United States. The territory could in theory legalize online casinos and poker, but nothing of that sort has happened to date.
Most of the major, international sites that refuse US customers also refuse customers from Puerto Rico. However, Puerto Ricans do have options just as players in the US have options. US-friendly casino sites tend to also accept customers from Puerto Rico.
Saint Barts has no real-world gambling facilities and does not issue licenses to online casino sites. We should remember that Saint Barts generally follows the lead of France and likewise does not authorize online casinos independently.
People living in Saint Barthélemy do have access to casino sites that are licensed in France. Unlicensed casino websites may be subject to internet censorship, but there are no laws that criminalize the act of gambling online as an individual.
Saint Martin is divided between French and Dutch control and is therefore subject to two different sets of gaming laws. The French side of Saint Martin is subject to the same gambling laws as France. This means real world casinos are legal in theory (although none exist) and online gambling is also legal for casino sites that are licensed in France.
The Dutch side (a.k.a. “Sint Maarten”) of the island takes basically the opposite approach to gambling. This side of the island has quite a few brick-and-mortar casinos but takes no stance on internet gaming. People living on the Dutch side are free to access international casino sites as they wish.
Uruguay permits the operation of casinos, horse racing betting and a national lottery. Sports betting is not permitted on its own, although the lottery does offer a form of sports wagering. The casino industry here is small but established, with most casinos catering to tourists.
The gambling laws do not address online gambling and there is no licensing system in place for online casinos in Uruguay. As such, residents simply visit casino websites headquartered in other countries.
Venezuela is experience an extreme economic crisis at the time of this writing, so we do not know the current state of the gambling industry. With inflation out of control, widespread food shortages and political unrest, it is difficult to imagine Venezuelan casinos doing much business today.
What we do know is that Venezuelan law does permit brick-and-mortar casinos, bingo and a lottery. It has also been reported (see page 34 here) that two online casinos headquartered on Margarita Island were licensed to offer casino games online in Venezuela, but those have since closed. Those living in Venezuela today must resort to visiting foreign casino sites.