Rugged. Rainforested. Culturally-instituted. Stably-governed. Those are four words that perfectly describe the Central American country officially known as the Republic of Costa Rica. With about five million people, Costa Rica is a hotspot for tourists — mainly for its Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, volcanoes, beaches, and biodiversity.
Accordingly, casinos and gambling facilities in Costa Rica are greatly lucrative, and they carry a great deal of intrigue that makes them one of the best in the whole continent of Central America.
The history of gambling, gaming and casinos in Costa Rica is very short — yet overwhelming. Costa Rica gained her independence from Spain on September 15, 1821, after Spain’s ultimate defeat in the Mexican War of Independence.
For some years, the country was still immature and could not move an inch towards her own future. Costa Rica proclaimed sovereignty from a collective Central America in 1838.
Despite Costa Rica’s initial instability, gambling has been generating a lot of revenue and buzz right from the beginning. The United States Senate introduced the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act in 1999. Although it was not passed, the bill brought a great deal of fear to gambling operators around the world. That was when most businessmen decided to move their operations to Costa Rica, mainly because Costa Rica lacked (and still lack) any tangible gambling commission or authoritative body.
When they rushed to the Central American country, they were welcomed by a simple jurisdiction and a lot of potential customers at their fingertips. That was how Costa Rica became a gambling destination, only smaller than Las Vegas.
In 2008, Costa Rica passed a decree to make casinos run from 6 PM and 2 AM, not the initial 24 hours. Also, casinos were required to run their businesses far away from the street, and stop giving customers free alcoholic drinks. Ultimately, they were required to operate in hotels with 59 or lesser rooms.
Generally, casinos and most forms of gambling facilities and games are legal throughout the length and breadth of Costa Rica. Although Costa Rica lacks any defined gaming or gambling commission or authoritative body, visitors of Costa Rica participate in a wide range of gambling and gaming activities. For residents, however, it is a whole different story.
Some unethical casinos and gambling facilities have taken advantage of this deterioration in the past, and more are expected anytime soon. Most of them pretend to be licensed by an authoritative body known as Costa Rica Gaming Commission, which does not exist in actual fact.
Furthermore, the number of casinos and gambling institutions currently operating in Costa Rica is difficult to perfectly pin down — but with some research, the total number is realized as 53, with the majority in San José, the capital of Costa Rica.
As mentioned earlier, casinos and other gambling institutions are substantially located in the capital state, San José. San José has 168+ table games and 1,136+ gaming machines. However, gambling investors have 53 gambling venues in 26 different Costa Rican cities.
While San José offers 19 different gambling institutions, most other cities offer nothing more than one venue. Additionally, Tamarindo, Sardinal, Quepos, Puntarenas, Playas del Coco, Flamingo Beach, and Escazu all have more than one casino.
Fiesta Casino – Alajuela, located in Alajuela, Río Segundo, is the largest casino in the whole of Costa Rica with various games and machines.
Most gambling activities and facilities are legal in Costa Rica. The most popular facilities include casinos, betting call centres, and gaming parlours. There is a game called Rummy in Costa Rica, which is basically the same as blackjack.
Further, online gambling is legal in Costa Rica but indigenes are forbidden to participate. However, indigenes are not prosecuted for placing wagers on foreign online gambling sites.
Similar to online gambling, poker, sports betting and bingo are legal but illegal for indigenes. Lottery, concurrently, is different and particularly the most popular form of gambling in Costa Rica. Punto Max is a national lottery that operates completely offline. Online lottery shares the same plight with online poker, sports betting, and bingo.
Finally, table games, slot machines and other casino activities are readily available in a typical Costa Rican casino. It is smart to note that most games in Costa Rica have been renamed and with respective twists. For example, Caribbean stud poker and blackjack are almost the same as Tute and Rummy, respectively.
Below is a list of all casinos currently operating in the regions of Costa Rica.
Amon Plaza Clarion Hotel – Central Valley
Barceló Amapola & Jazz Casino
Barceló Playa Langosta Resort & Casino
Barceló Playa Tambor Resort & Casino
Barceló San José Palacio Spa & Casino
Best Western El Sitio Hotel & Casino
Caribbean Village Fiesta
Casino del Sur
Club Colonial Casino Bar & Restaurant
Coco Beach Hotel & Casino
Croc’s Casino Resort
Crocodile Bay Resort
Del Rey Hotel & Casino del Rey
DoubleTree Cariari San Jose Hotel and Casino
Fiesta Casino – Alajuela
Fiesta Casino – Holiday Inn Express
Fiesta Casino – Hotel America Heredia
Fiesta Casino – Hotel El Presidente
Fiesta Casino – Ramada Plaza Herradura
Flamingo Beach Resort Casino
Flamingo Marina Resort
Flor De Itabo Hotel & Casino
Grand Casino Escazú
Hotel & Casino Divisamar
Hotel Cocal & Casino
Hotel Costa Rica Morazan & Casino Tropical
Hotel Estela De Fuego
Hotel Layla Resort
Hotel Riu Guanacaste
Hotel Sierra Resort and Casino
Hotel Tamarindo Diria and Jazz Casino Tamarindo
Hotel Yadran Beach Resort & Casino Platinum
Irazú Hotel Best Western & Casino Concorde
Kamuk Hotel & Gallo Casino
Los Suenos Marriot Golf Resort & Stellaris Casino
Lucky’s Casino – Colón
Lucky’s Casino – Guapiles
Lucky’s Casino – Perez Zeledon
Lucky’s Casino – San Carlos
Lucky’s Casino – Tournon
Luigi’s Hotel Restaurant and Casino
Mona Lisa Hotel & Casino
Palma Real Casino
Paradisus Playa Conchal & Jazz Casino Conchal
Premier Fiesta Resort & Spa
Quality Hotel Centro Colón & Casino Costa Rica
Radisson Hotel & Casino Europa
Rio Tranquilo Casino
Riu Guanacaste Hotel and Casino
Royal Dutch Hotel & Casino Europa
White House Hotel Restaurant Casino and Spa
– The legal gambling age in Costa Rica is 18 years, similar to most countries.
– Costa Rica is one of the few countries to completely lack a gambling or gaming authoritative body or commission. Therefore, there is nothing like a gaming or gambling license or regulation in any part of Costa Rica.
– To get licensed in Costa Rica, gambling operators buy business or data processing licenses. Each license is worth about $5,000, and can be renewed with the same amount yearly.
– The Costa Rican government is very unconcerned about the opening of gambling facilities as long as $5000 is paid for the license and annually. So, opening a gambling facility in Costa Rica is simply easy.
– Costa Rica has a defined tax system for gambling facilities, which states that casinos and gaming parlours must pay 10 percent of their net profits. Betting call centres, on the other hand, have to pay their tax according to the number of employees.
– Betting call centres with 50 or lesser employees have to pay ¢20.5 million (57 times a basic salary). Betting call centres with 51 to 99 employees have to pay ¢30.6 million (85 times a basic salary). Betting call centres with 100 or more employees have to pay ¢40.6 million (113 times a basic salary).
– In August 2010, Costa Rica declared they were increasing the tax from 10 percent to 15 percent. Accordingly, no press release has been released to follow that release.
– More than 3,000 employees were put at risk of losing their jobs when Costa Rica regulated casinos to run only from 6 PM to 2 AM. The rule made it illegal to offer gamblers free alcoholic beverages. Also, casinos must stay clear of the street and be absent in hotels with rooms up to 60. That rule became effective in 2008.
– In 2013, the Finance Ministry announced the development of a gaming control board. However, nothing is developed yet in 2017.
– There is a total number of 53 casinos in Costa Rica, with 19 in San José alone.
– Fiesta Casino – Alajuela is the biggest casino in Costa Rica, with 14+ table games and 300+ gaming machines.
– San José is the largest gambling city in Costa Rica, with 19 gambling institutions, 168+ table games and 1,136+ gaming machines.
– About 50 percent of electronic gambling businesses in the world is between Costa Rica and Aruba, and generates $14+ billion annually.
– Costa Rican indigenes are forbidden to participate in any form of online gambling (sports betting, bingo, poker and lottery).
– Games with a random outcome are forbidden in Costa Rica. As a result, gambling is a very confusing activity in Costa Rica. Some casinos classify blackjack as illegal while some happily offer it.