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North America has one of the largest gambling markets in the world, but their neighbors to the south are starting to get in on the action as well. While South America falls behind other gambling markets like Europe and Asia in terms of size, they no doubt have the population to support a booming gaming industry. South America is home to over 410 million people, and of those people, 307 million are of legal gambling age.
Despite the numbers to facilitate a successful market for gambling, South America is behind the times in terms of gambling regulation. The continent of South America is comprised of 12 unique countries — each with their own unique government. What is deemed legal in one country may get you a fine in another. With all of these different nations using their own rules, understanding South American laws can be confusing to say the least. Twee.li is committed to keeping our visitors up-to-date on all the latest laws and regulations coming from South America.
As mentioned before, South America is an up-and-comer in the world of gambling. Nine of South America’s 12 countries are home to some of the world’s most extravagant casinos. Argentina alone has over 85 casinos, and they don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. But, while some countries such as Argentina fully embrace the world of gambling, other countries are more hesitant. In 2011, Ecuador passed a referendum to ban all casino gambling, which resulted in the closing of 55 casinos and bingo halls. The advent of online gambling has not helped make matters less confusing. Many South American countries continue to adhere to outdated laws and regulations despite the popularity of mobile gaming. South America is a hodge-podge of countries that fall on both sides of the gambling debate: some welcoming gambling and casinos with open arms — others holding tight to laws of the past.
Chile is one of the countries that falls into the progressive category. In 2005, Chile created an independent gaming commission known as the Superintendencia de Casinos de Juego (SCJ). The SCJ awards 15-year licenses to casinos that promise to vamp up tourism to surrounding areas. Chile is home to dozens of dazzling casinos including: Valparaiso, Arica, and Viña del Mar. These casinos are much more than just a place to play slots or blackjack. The casinos throughout Chile include five star hotels, incredible restaurants, extensive shopping, and a slew of other amenities. In 2015, Chile’s gambling industry was earning roughly $38 million. Casinos are not the only draw for gamblers in this country — horseracing also has a huge following.
Since its first casinos began cropping up in 1997, Panama is another South American country thriving in the world of gambling. This country is home to over 40 casinos and several bingo halls. The largest gambling city is Panama City, which has 28 gambling facilities. All casinos and other gambling venues (including horse tracks and sports betting) are overseen by the Junta de Control de Juegos to ensure quality and fairness. This council also regulates Panama’s online gambling. Acquiring a gaming license in Panama is a fairly easy feat. Compared with the rest of its South American counterparts, Panama’s laws towards gambling are some of the most lenient.
Uruguay may be the second smallest country in South America, but that hasn’t stopped it from raking in millions of dollars in gambling profits. Uruguay is one of the more modern countries in South America, so it’s not surprising they’ve accepted gambling over the past 100 years. Uruguay takes a unique approach to gambling regulation. The system they employ is known as a “mixed system”. The mixed system is a way of catering to the wants of both government and private business owners. In this system, the government issues licenses to businesses, but does not put a cap on the amount of games that a casino operator can offer. In exchange for limited government interference, business owners turn over 35 to 45 percent of their profits to the state. Their system is proving to be a successful one. According to the Uruguayan Casino Control Board the gross gaming revenues for 2015 were an astonishing $212 million. With over 12 casinos littered throughout the small country, Uruguay is an example of one of the most successful and modern gambling makers in all of Latin America.
Mexico’s history of gambling is convoluted at best. The country’s ties to the Catholic faith, messy politics, and history have kept gambling from taking hold in this country in any significant way until recently. Thanks to a gaming law passed in 194, gambling was illegal for several decades, but this didn’t stop gambling operators. Much of Mexico’s gambling scene was underground until 2004 when the Secretaria de Gobernacion decided to begin regulations on the businesses that were determined to operate despite the ban on gambling. Since then, Mexico has been slowly making progress. Today it’s one of the top ten gambling destinations in the world. The Texas-Mexico border has definitely benefited from the legality of gambling, and beachfront casino resorts have been cropping up in places such as Acapulco and Cancun. Mexico may be the “new guy” in the world of gambling, but with its prime location and beautiful vacation destinations, there’s no doubt this country will soon be raking in some serious profits.
It’s difficult to say exactly what the future holds for this southern continent, but the success of countries like Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile makes it hard to understand why other countries are still abiding by outdated gambling regulations. While many South American countries have begun to flesh out modern laws concerning brick-and-mortar gambling venues, they have yet to scratch the surface on online gambling regulation. There’s no doubt that a large portion of South America has years of law-making ahead of them. Twee.li strives to be a comprehensive guide to the world of South American gambling. South America’s gambling industries are undergoing a transformative time, and twee.li will be there to document it every step of the way.
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