The gambling business in Venezuela is legalized. The market size is small compared to other Latin American countries. The revenue of Venezuelan casinos is 4 million USD annually.
There are 5 casinos operating in the country. In addition, the situation is affected by severe poverty – 76% of Venezuela’s population lives below the poverty line. Nevertheless, the gambling business is regulated rather tightly.
Online gambling is allowed. Two Venezuelan companies that had government licenses went bankrupt. However, residents of the country are free to play in foreign online casinos.
Gambling legislation of Venezuela
Casinos were legalized in Venezuela in 1997. Then came additional laws regulating taxes on gambling business.
Even before 1997, casinos were operating in the country, which received permission from local authorities. Since 1997, all establishments have been controlled by the state. It also issues licenses.
Casinos must be located in five star hotels located in tourist areas. The number of rooms must be more than 200. The license is issued for 10 years with subsequent renewal. The tax is 20% of gross sales.
Most casinos in the nineties did not meet such requirements, and eventually closed. Two large casinos were located on Margarita Island. The rest were located in the provinces:
- La Urbina;
In 1998, Hugo Chavez came to power, and the hope for foreign investment, as well as the development of the industry, disappeared. Chavez did not outright ban casinos – he simply made taxes unbearable for them. All establishments have closed.
Now, with his departure, the situation is gradually improving. It is still difficult for the country to rebuild its ruined economy, but the new government is still making efforts.
Gambling in Venezuela is regulated by a number of laws:
- Law on the Control of Casinos, Bingo Rooms and Slot Machines (Ley para el Control de Casinos, Salas de Bingo y Máquinas Traganíqueles – G.O. Nro. 36.254 – 23/07/1997);
- Instruction to the Law (Reglamento de la Ley para el Control de los Casinos, Salas de bingo y Máquinas Traganíqueles – G.O. Nro. 36.523 – 24/08/1998);
- Gambling Tax Law (Ley de Impuestos a las Actividades de Juegos de Envite o Azar – 05/06/2007);
- Internal instructions for the National Commission for Casinos, Bingo Halls and Slot Machines (Reglamento Interno de la Comisión Nacional de Casinos, Salas de Bingo y Máquinas Traganíqueles – G.O. Extraord. N °. 39.637 – 03/18/2011);
- Constitutional Law against Organized Crime and the Financing of Terrorism (Ley Orgánica Contra la Delincuencia Organizada y Financiamiento al Terrorismo – G.O Número 39.912 – 30/04/2012).
As of 2017, the Venezuelan government is in the process of changing the legal framework. New bills are being actively discussed.
One of the main bills relates to casinos, slots and bingo. The second is about lotteries and sports betting. The reform project was presented in February 2002 and approved in May of the same year. The new laws are now being revised for a second final reading.
The regulator in Venezuela is the National Commission for Casinos, Bingo Halls and Slot Machines. It is a decentralized organization within the Ministry of Finance. The Board of Directors of the Commission consists of five people:
- president of the republic;
- a representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs;
- a representative of the Council on the Illicit Use of Drugs;
- a representative of the Ministry of Finance;
- a representative of a government agency for tourism.
Board decisions are made by majority vote. The organization is responsible for the approval and control of gambling. Her other responsibilities include:
- control over compliance with the law;
- issuance and renewal of licenses;
- imposition of fines and other penalties;
- approval or rejection of bills on gambling;
- certification and approval of various equipment at the sites;
- collection of registers;
- submitting an annual activity report, etc.
According to the law, there is also the National Inspectorate, which deals with technical support, monitoring and control of casinos, bingo halls and slot machines.
This institution studies everything related to gambling establishments, maintains dossiers on operators and a register of legal sites, as well as a register of personnel engaged in relevant activities.
Casinos, bingo and slot machines are the main directions on which the Venezuelan gambling legislation system is based. This is evident from the title of the basic law adopted in 1997.
Horse racing is run by the National Equestrian Superintendence (Superintendencia Nacional de Actividades Hípicas). The lottery regulator is the National Commission of Lotteries.
Conditions for obtaining a license
An operator applying for a license must meet the following requirements:
- the company operates in the form of a joint stock company;
- the purpose of the activity is to run a casino or a bingo hall;
- the share of foreign capital does not exceed 80%.
The casino operator must prove that it has an investment of at least 300,000 tax units and an operating capital of 200,000 tax units. This unit is approved by the Tax Code. The corresponding amount of capital is confirmed at the beginning of each year.
Licenses are not transferred to third parties. Their validity period is 10 years with the possibility of extension.
Other conditions for playgrounds
The casino must be located in a five-star hotel with more than 200 rooms. The bingo hall can be located in a three-to-five-star hotel or on another site as determined by the Commission. The hotels themselves must be located in the tourist area.
Casinos must have an internal charter. It includes:
- established denomination for all games;
- detailed rules for each proposed game;
- totals and statistics for players, where the mathematical expectation of each side is investigated. For slot machines, the percentage of the programmed theoretical expectation. It must be at least 80% of all bets made by car;
- the responsibility of the institution to the players.
The rules must be published in the official languages of Venezuela plus two additional ones. Among them there is necessarily English. The rules are posted in a prominent place.
Casinos pay a tax of 10% on their total revenue. Bingo parlors give away 12% of income minus winnings. In this case, the total amount of the issued prizes must be at least 70% of the total income of the hall.
Additionally, operators pay monthly royalties of 40 tax units for each table and 10 units for each slot machine.
All types of gambling are allowed in Venezuela:
- bingo and lottery;
- horse and dog racing.
Popular slot machines in the country
The most popular slot machines among Venezuelan players:
- Golden Book;
- Paco and The Popping Peppers;
- Land of Lemuria;
- Juices Wild.
Golden Book is a five-reel slot machine from Amatic with 576 ways to make combinations. There is a chance to get free spins.
Mosquitozzz is a 5-reel, 9-line slot from Greentube. There is a risk game.
Paco and The Popping Peppers is a 5 reel slot machine from BetSoft with 30 pay lines. Cascade reels with win multipliers have been implemented.
Land of Lemuria is a 5-reel slot from Microgaming. There are no prize lines here – any continuous sequence of symbols wins. There is a chance to get a bonus game.
Juices Wild is a 5-reel, 30-line slot machine from OpenBet. Fruit Slot offers very simple gameplay.
Venezuela has been experiencing an economic and financial crisis for many years. The gambling market in 2000 remains small and weakly developing. This is facilitated by tough rules and the poor welfare of the Venezuelans themselves.
For the gambling market to flourish, the government needs to implement gambling reforms.