WILL COSTA RICA LAND CRACKDOWN IMPACT INTERNET OPERATORS?
Land casinos subject of significant new restrictions
Costa Rica, the Central American republic that is home to many online casino operators, is currently cracking down on land casino venues within the country in moves that will change the way that such operations are run and could ultimately discourage new casinos being built.
A six month window for the implementation of the new requirements has been provided.
Reports in the local English newspaper AM Costa Rica suggest that any new gambling establishments will have to match 3 star resort with 60 rooms standards and offer complete services. The casino floor space must not accommodate any more than 15 percent of the resort's total floor space and must not be accessible directly from the street.
Existing hotels with casinos, and stand-alone casinos, must regulate their hours to 8 hours a day from 6pm until 2am – a radical reduction from the current 24 hour operations many venues now offer. The issue of free alcohol is also to stop, and more stringent restrictions on access for minors introduced.
Costa Rican Tourism Minister, Carlos Ricardo Benavides, stated this week that there were other places in the world where the main attraction is gaming such as Las Vegas, and it was not government's intention that Costa Rica should follow suit. The coluntry also has a new security minister, Janine Del Vecchio which could see a tightening up in enforcement.
Industry observers predict that the reduced hours and other requirements could have a serious impact on operating costs, leading to staff cutbacks. Questions are also being asked regarding the online gambling industry, and whether government will take an equally close look at toughening up regulations in this sector.
Costa Rica filed for World Trade Organisation (WTO) arbitration on January 28 this year, seeking compensation from the United States as a result of the U.S. withdrawal of its commitment on cross-border gambling services.