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Obtaining a gaming license in Costa Rica in 2024

Petr Stehlik
February 18, 2022
4 min
6477

Albeit a major hub for the industry in Latin America, Costa Rica doesn’t actually regulate — nor license — online gambling operators. And yet, there are ways to establish a fully legal online gambling company in the country. Curious to know how? Keep reading.

Costa Rica as a gambling jurisdiction

When it comes to gambling, Costa Rica is a very peculiar jurisdiction. All games of chance were formally made illegal by the 1922 Gambling Law, however subsequent regulations and government interpretations opened the door to a legalised sector. Today, land-based casinos can operate within hotels, offering both slots, tables, and card games, whereas betting is subject to a state monopoly.

As for online gambling, the story is somewhat different. According to the current interpretation of the law, online gambling takes place where the transactions between player and operators are processed rather than where the operator is based. This means that, while it isn’t possible to obtain a gambling license, the government tolerates the operation of online gambling businesses based in the country as long as their transactions aren’t processed by local banks and they don’t offer their services to Costa Rican residents.

The Costa Rican gambling license that isn’t a gambling license

As there is no online gambling license, most Costa Rican operators just have to register a company to provide online entertainment.

Operators have to register with the Costa Rican Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Economy, where their business is established (a physical presence is required).

Some of the most commonly required documentation for company registration:

  • Certification of the legal capacities and corporate identification of the company
  • ID of natural applicants, plus certification of authorised residence from the Immigration Department if the applicants are foreigners
  • Right to use of the land (i.e. office space rental contract)
  • Certification of fulfilment of previous tax obligations

Pros of operating an online gambling website from Costa Rica

The main advantage of running an iGaming business from Costa Rica is the lack of taxation on internet gambling revenues.

Furthermore, as the country lacks both a regulatory framework and a supervising authority, operators aren’t subject to the marketing and responsible gambling restrictions in place most elsewhere. It’s important to note that anti-money laundering regulations, on the other hand, are enforced.

Cons of operating an online gambling website from Costa Rica

But, as the saying goes, all that glitters is not gold. Operating out of Costa Rica comes with some limitations that can very well end up crippling an online gambling operator.

First of all, the lack of a proper gambling license makes it nigh impossible to secure transaction services from reputable international services and networks. While the rising usage of cryptocurrencies may soothe this issue, at present the volume of players relying on fiat currencies and traditional payment methods still far outweighs that of tech-savvy crypto users. As without deposits there’s no online casino, operators must make sure to have a viable structure in place to conduct transactions with players lest their venture end before it even starts.

The other downside is the same lack of regulations we listed above as a pro. While it’s true that it allows for more carefree operations with a lighter focus on compliance, from the perspective of customers this means less protection — and thus trustworthiness. Given the option, players will generally put their money in an online casino that they know to be held accountable by a rigorous licensing authority.

Unfortunately, the reputation of Costa Rican online casinos has gradually worsened over the years due to the irresponsible behaviour of operators seeking to make a quick buck rather than to establish themselves as trustworthy iGaming platforms.

How can Slotegrator help you?

If you’re keen to start your iGaming business, Slotegrator can help you establish a company in your jurisdiction of choice — whether Costa Rica or elsewhere — and acquire all the necessary licenses. We also offer a crypto-ready online casino platform that allows you target tech-savvy players worldwide. To get more information about our products and services, just click the button below.

Also, if you are interested in learning about Costa Rica and the other gambling jurisdictions of the region, you can download our free eBook “iGaming in Latin America”.

Petr Stehlik
Petr Stehlik
Lawyer
In 2016, Petr graduated from the Law Faculty of Charles University in Prague. The main area of law on which he focused both during and after his university studies is software law (and intellectual property in general). After graduating, he briefly worked at a medium-sized law firm in Prague, but in 2018 he joined Slotegrator, where he has been working ever since and where he handles the company’s day-to-day legal matters.

Comments

  • J
    Jacob Linden
    May 16, 2022
    I am ready to open up an online sports gambling website. I believe Costa Rica is the best option for me but I want to make sure I set up the business correctly and obtain all the licenses and follow all the regulations ,so I can avoid all legal problems.
    Artur Movchaniuk
    Artur Movchaniuk • Business Development Manager
    May 16, 2022
    hello! Of course, making sure you follow regulations is very important while starting an online gambling business. We are happy to help here! I have messaged you to discuss more details.

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