Situated south of Mexico, Central American nation Guatemala is home to the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, the National Palace of Culture, antiquated Mayan locales, preserved Spanish frontier structures, espresso fields, rainforests and volcanoes. Couple these features with its tourist-friendly environment, and you have a flawless country.
The history of the Republic of Guatemala is quite intriguing, as well as its gambling history. Guatemala was an amalgamation of the Mayan civilization and Mesoamerica cultures. Then, Guatemala moved to an administration of the Spanish Conquistador Pedro de Alvarado – popularly called “the invader” by the Mayans – after the Spanish conquest of Guatemala from the 15th century to the 16th century.
After the conquest, Guatemala became a part of the Captaincy General of Guatemala consisting of the territories of Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Chiapas, Nicaragua, Campeche, and Tabasco. In 1821, the Captaincy General of Guatemala became independent of Spanish rule. At the same time, it became a constituent of the First Mexican Empire.
This went on until 1823 when the Federal Republic of Central America was created. The republic dissolved in 1841 and Guatemala finally became independent. This was when Guatemalans developed an interest in gambling. Throughout the country, Guatemalans participated in diverse forms of gambling activities even though the government didn’t license or regulate them. Lottery, especially, was a hotspot.
In 1880, the government introduced and passed the Penal Code of Guatemala. The law made all forms of gambling in the country illegal except lottery and bingo. In 1979, the 25th President of Guatemala – General Fernando Romeo Lucas García – brought about the rise of casinos built by foreign Cuban and Costa Rican investors within the country despite the restriction stated in the 1880 Penal Code of Guatemala.
In 1982, General Rios Montt came into power. He was a direct opposite of the previous general; he was a devoted Christian who viewed gambling as a sinful act. So, he reinforced the closure of casinos indefinitely. And even after he was overthrown, casino gambling waw still illegal.
Till this day, casino gambling is illegal in the country. However, many businesspeople and investors still offer a number of casinos in the country.
Technically speaking, casinos, slot parlours, sports betting shops, and other gambling facilities-except bingo halls and lottery providers-in Guatemala are not licensed, regulated, monitored, or secured by the government. In fact, all forms of gambling except bingo and lottery are illegal according to the 1880 Penal Code of Guatemala.
However, owners of the gambling facilities in Guatemala pretend to pay no attention to the restriction. Couple their intentional negligence with the government’s nonchalance, and we have a country where gambling is illegal but still popularly active.
Moving on, there is a total of ten casinos in the country. Most of these casinos offer loyalty programs, cash giveaways, bingo sessions, and special monthly promotions. Guatemalans are generally friendly, so you are rest assured your visit to Guatemala will be an easy one. The gambling atmosphere is pleasing, peaceful and marked with outright tranquillity.
The largest gambling facility in Guatemala is Guatemala Princess Casino, which is located in Galerias Primma – a shopping mall in Ciudad de Guatemala, the country’s capital. The casino offers four poker tables, 282 gaming machines, 17 table games, and 19,375sq/ft gaming space. Meanwhile, all ten casinos in Guatemala are spread across three cities.
Golden Princess Video Loteria is located in La Aurora. Casino Crown Coloninial Guatemala, Crowne Plaza Guatemala, Fantastic Casino – Las Majadas, Fantastic Casino – Los Capitol, Fantastic Casino – Los Proceres, Fantastic Casino – Metronorte, Video Loteria Monte Carlo, and Guatemala Princess Casino are all located in Ciudad de Guatemala. Lastly, Fantastic Casino – La Pradera Xela is situated in Quetzaltenango.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a single racetrack or racino in Guatemala. However, the country counteracts this shortcoming with ten traditional casinos. Most of these casinos are parts of big hotels, resorts or shopping malls.
They offer a wide range of games ranging from slot machines and blackjack to Caribbean Stud poker, American roulette, Texas Hold ‘Em, roulette, Video Reel games, multi-hand poker, keno, and bingo.
Online gambling, on the other hand, is neither legal or illegal. The government’s stand on the legalization of online casinos is quite confusing. Concurrently, Guatemalans and visitors are not persecuted for gambling on foreign online casinos, online bookmakers, and online lottery operators.
Video lottery is quite popular in Guatemala. For one, Thunderbird Resorts have four distinct video lottery operators throughout the country. They are Fiesta Video Loteria Coatepeque, Video Lotería Real, Mazatenango Video Suerte, and Gran Plaza Video Lottery Parlor – all located in Ciudad de Guatemala. All these operators are reasonably large with some having more than 100 gaming positions while some have over 300 gaming positions.
Below is a list of all casinos currently operating in the regions of Guatemala.
Casino Crown Coloninial Guatemala
Crowne Plaza Guatemala
Fantastic Casino – La Pradera Xela
Fantastic Casino – Las Majadas
Fantastic Casino – Los Capitol
Fantastic Casino – Los Proceres
Fantastic Casino – Metronorte
Golden Princess Video Loteria
Guatemala Princess Casino
Video Loteria Monte Carlo
– Similar to most countries, the minimum gambling age in Guatemala is 18 years.
– According to the 1880 Penal Code of Guatemala, bingo and lottery are the two forms of gambling legal, licensed and regulated in the country. Therefore, sports betting, casino games, horse racing, bloodsports betting, and other forms of gambling are equally illegal.
– Leading international entertainment and gaming provider Thunderbird Resorts, Inc. has four different centers in Guatemala. However, none of them is a casino – they are all video lottery operators.
– According to the 1880 Penal Code of Guatemala, the National Lottery is meant to help poor Guatemalans by employing them and giving them a chance to win lottery draws.
– The strength of Guatemala’s strong economy is attributed to its tourism industry, which somehow includes the gambling industry.