Secretly considered the “World Tourism Power,” Ecuador attract visitors and tourists with its versatile and biodiverse destinations, sustainable tourism system, amazing ecosystem, ethnic diversity, rich cultural heritage, the Amazon rainforest, the tropical Pacific Ocean, the Galapagos Islands, the Andes, the Coast, and — most importantly — the friendly Ecuadorians. Another addition to Ecuador’s massive attractions was its gambling industry. Although not perfect, the gambling industry of Ecuador was for all tastes. Did you notice “was” was used instead of “is”? Well, this is because gambling is no more legal in Ecuador.
From 1820 to 1822, the Ecuadorian War of Independence took place — a war between South America and Spain. The war was to decide who was to control the Royal Audience of Quito, which later became the Republic of Ecuador. On May 24, 1822, Spain fell at the Battle of Pichincha. Therefore, the Presidencia de Quito became an independent nation.
Ecuador has since then strived to build its economy and society. Gambling, at the genesis, became a popular activity in the country. In fact, Ecuador was once a gambling destination. The laws were put together around the 1960s and have benefited Ecuador in a number of ways. The early law invited a flock of large casinos and luxury hotels into the country. At that time, people compared Ecuador to Las Vegas.
Unfortunately, things got rough starting with the emergence of economist Rafael Correa. Rafael was elected in 2007, and a year later, he limited casinos to 5-star hotels only. As if that was not enough, he proposed that all forms of gambling be banned and declared illegal as gambling — according to the former president — was causing social problems.
“Do you agree that businesses devoted to games of chance such as casinos and slot machine parlors should be banned?” Ecuadorians were asked to answer this question on May 7, 2011, when the voting took place. 45.7 percent of the mass supported the blanket gambling ban, so the 41.6 percent who opposed the ban were out of luck.
Soon, the president confirmed a decree — the Executive Decree No. 873 — on September 9, 2011, and requested each and every gambling facility to shut down within six months. The six months ended on 16 March 2012.
Even when gambling was legal in Ecuador, the industry — although growing and flourished — was practically unstable. The government’s stand on the issue was not as transparent as expected, but gambling contributed to the country’s tourism industry, so the government had no other choice but to make the gambling environment tourist-friendly. On that note, there were 19 casinos and a racetrack in the country. Some were strikingly exquisite while others were not.
Generally, Ecuadorians are considered to be friendly and build rapport easily. The country is a tourist’s dream because of its natural and modern features. However, tourists and visitors should tread carefully when in Ecuador. The country is safe, but the number of illegal and unlicensed gambling facilities in Ecuador is overwhelming. So, WorldCasinoIndex recommends Ecuador visitors to forget about gambling in the country since gambling is completely illegal.
Ecuador is divided into three regions and 24 provinces, and each province is divided into individual cities. The 20 gambling facilities in Ecuador were located in just five cities. The capital of Ecuador, Quito, has the best-preserved historic center in Central and South America — and was the second largest gambling area in all of Ecuador.
Best Western Hotel Casino Plaza, Hilton Colon Quito Hotel & Casino, Tambo Real Hotel & Casino, Dann Carlton Quito Hotel, Hotel Casino Plaza Caicedo, Jokers Casino, and Chalet Swisse Hotel & Casino were all located in Quito.
The largest gambling area in Ecuador was Guayaquil. Oro Verde Hotel & Casino Guayaquil, Casino Sol – Guayaquil, Unipark Hotel & Unicasino, Hotel Ramada & Casino Guayaquil, El Hotel del Malecón, Casino Faraon, Hilton Hotel & Casino Colon Guayaquil, and Hipodromo Miguel Salem Dibo were all located in Guayaquil.
On the other hand, Oro Verde Hotel & Casino and Rizzo Hotel & Casino were located in Machala while Salinas offered Hotel Casino Calypsso and Barceló Colon Miramar Hotel & Casino. Manta was the only area with one gambling facility: Oro Verde Hotel & Casino Manta.
In the whole country, the largest casino was Hotel Casino Plaza Caicedo in Quito. The casino had 14 table games and 250 gaming machines.
Those closed casinos in Ecuador offered activities such as slot machines, blackjack, roulette, punto banco, American roulette, Caribbean stud poker, mini-baccarat, Texas Hold‘em, Oasis stud poker, baccarat, 3-card poker, and canasta. Similar to other South American countries, those casinos were parts of hotels, resorts and cruise ships — but, in the case of Ecuador, the greater percentage of the casinos were parts of 4 and 5-star hotels.
The country also offers a horse racetrack: the Hipodromo Miguel Salem Dibo in Guayaquil. Although this racetrack is considerably old, horse racing and dog racing are not popular in Ecuador. Further, the Loteria Nacional is the nation’s national lottery provided and supervised by the government. The Loteria Nacional is also available online, and players could win up to $1,200,000.
Other forms of gambling were almost totally neglected. Sports betting was not so popular, except football (or soccer). Poker, on the other hand, was surprisingly popular. In fact, poker was extremely popular and most — if not all — casinos offered variations of poker. For one, Caribbean stud poker was the most popular variation of poker in the country. Oasis stud poker and Texas Hold’em were runner-ups.
Below is a list of all casinos which were previously operating in the regions of Ecuador before the 2011 national referendum.
Barceló Colon Miramar Hotel & Casino
Best Western Hotel Casino Plaza
Casino Sol – Guayaquil
Chalet Swisse Hotel & Casino
Dann Carlton Quito Hotel
El Hotel del Malecón
Hilton Colon Quito Hotel & Casino
Hilton Hotel & Casino Colon Guayaquil
Hipodromo Miguel Salem Dibo
Hotel Casino Calypsso
Hotel Casino Plaza Caicedo
Hotel Ramada & Casino Guayaquil
Oro Verde Hotel & Casino
Oro Verde Hotel & Casino Guayaquil
Oro Verde Hotel & Casino Manta
Rizzo Hotel & Casino
Tambo Real Hotel & Casino
Unipark Hotel & Unicasino
– Similar to other South American countries, the minimum gambling age in Ecuador was 18 years.
– In Ecuador, gambling has become a thing of the past since 2011.
– The first player ever to win at both the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker is an Ecuadorian by the name Carlos “El Matador” Mortensen, who hails from Ambato.
– The Hipodromo Miguel Salem Dibo has been in business since 1980.
– In 2015, the Hipodromo Miguel Salem Dibo partnered with United States pari-mutuel supplier United Tote to deliver a new and improved pari-mutuel system.
– Illegal and unlicensed gambling facilities are very rampant in the country. In fact, many small restaurants offer a handful of gambling activities, which are apparently unlicensed.
– Online gambling is still popular throughout the country, and—technically—not illegal.
– There have been a total of 55 casinos in the country.
– Before Rafael Correa became president, the law required casinos in 5-star hotels to offer four or more varieties of table games and 3 and 4-star hotels to offer two or three. One year after he came to power, he limited future casinos to do businesses in 5-star hotels exclusively.
– The Latin American Poker Tour which Ecuador hosted in 2008 brought about a huge increase in the popularity of poker and card games.
– More than 20,000 people lost their jobs with the blanket gambling ban.