Decrees that regulate casinos came into force in Costa Rica

With the four decrees and the guidelines that came into force, the casino business will have to be submitted to new regulations, a situation that keeps the sector worried.

The regulation promoted by the government authorities considers the application of a casino regulation that comprises the authorization, installation and operation of this type of business. The regulations also have the aim to discourage the investment in this type of business.

The government made these decrees due to the inactivity of the bill to modify the casino legislation, which has been in force since 1922. From now on, businessmen will not be able to operate 24/7, as they used to a few months ago. New regulations allow them to open from 6 p.m to 6 a.m. Besides, prerogatives in alcoholic drinks were forbidden.

In case new investments were made in this activity, they will have to be located in three-star hotels or more, with more than 60 rooms. Installations will not be able to exceed 15% of the total of the hotel infrastructure.

The issue of the schedule and the payment of a sanitary license were two of the aspects that caused more controversy by casino representatives, who intend to convince the government to change their position. However, the expansion possibilities would just be effective though a law, commented Carlos Ricardo Benavides, minister of tourism.

With this situation, several businessmen do not discard the possibility to start reducing personnel if the measure is maintained. However, according to the Costa Rican Tourist Institute (ICT), the impact on the employment would be minimal.

“I trust there will not be a great job movement, but if occurs, these people would be inserted in any other position in the tourist sector, considering the dynamism experimented by the country in the number of visitors”, said Benavides. Besides, once the sanitary license expires, businessmen will have to cancel USD 5,000 annually.

“The payment of this amount is excessive, discriminatory, because they do not explain the difference between this activity and any other business”, commented Jorge Hidalgo, vice president of the Costa Rican Casino Association.

Sources of the Ministry of Health indicated that the money will be deposited in a trust and will be used to promote the information and prevent gambling problems, which was also considered a disease.

“In recent years, more focus has been put in gambling problems, because it promotes violence, robberies and criminality. In Costa Rica, a 3% of the population suffer from it”, affirmed María Luisa Avila, Health Minister.