Costa Rica has long been one of the more loosely regulated jurisdictions for online casinos and sports books. Operators need only a business license from the government to set up Internet gambling servers. And because of this, you can just about count on that every online bet is being funnel through Costa Rica.
Online betting websites like Bodog and BetUS are two of the biggest in the World, both operate out of Costa Rica, San Jose region. Calvin Ayre, owner of Bodog, started the company in late 1999 with 10,000 US dollars and by the end of 2006, it was estimated that Bodog.com was taking in over 6 billion in yearly betting revenue, with 5 billion just in US dollars!
However, what really established Costa Rica as the nucleus of online gambling was the 2007 US crackdown on online gambling. One particular indictment on BetUS.com where the Feds alleged that the defendants facilitated payments of more than $150 million to illegal Internet gambling websites. And U.S. government seizer of $24 million from bank accounts linked to Bodog, claiming, the sports betting giant was operating illegal-under-U.S.-law Internet gaming operation. These crackdowns sent bookies, sports book agencies and handicappers swarming to Costa Rica. Online business opened faster then a popped champagne cork, with celebrating profits flowing just as fast. Hundreds of mini online sports booking and casino sites opened up overnight in San Jose and in other parts of Costa rica.
Not only that, but the resort and hotel hype of such places like White House Hotel and Casinos, of “Try your luck” at our legal gambling skyrocketed, but the isolated, mom and pop establishments began opening up the slots, card tables, Caribbean and Texas Hold ‘Em poker, mini baccarat, blackjack, canasta roulette, craps, rows of slot machines and video machines. Ask any taxi driver and your gambling needs will be taken care of, regardless of what town you are in.
On a recent trip to Golfito, I meant a heavy set man who was the salesperson for a slot machine company in La Vegas. He was huffing and puffing with appointment after appointment of slot machine orders from small towns that bordered Panama. In most cases, slot machines were being shipped to mom and pop casinos from Panama, where there was little or no government control. Payments for the slots were a percentage of the take until the machines paid for them, which was usually within six months.