Gambling in the Americas in 2020: The Complete Guide| 13 April, 2020
Casino games and sports betting might be a lot of fun, but each country has its own unique laws – and sometimes these laws can be totally different within the same country. So where can you legally have a bet on your favourite sports team or a hand of blackjack these days? From the Hudson Bay to the tip of Tierra del Fuego, and all points in between, here is the ultimate guide to gambling in the Americas in 2020.
Canada allows each province to set their own laws when it comes to gambling, so there is a wide variety of regulations. That said, online casino and sports betting are legal in most provinces, with the notable exceptions of Quebec and British Columbia.
Like its northern neighbour, the US also devolves gambling legislation to the individual states. Unlike Canada, most states still have heavy restrictions on casino and sports betting, particularly online. As of April 2020, just 17 states have legalized sports betting, and not all of these allow online activity – including New York. On the other hand, there are hundreds of land-based casinos in the US, in cities like Las Vegas, Atlantic City and in Indian reservations across the country. The US is also home to the most northerly casino in the Americas, in the Alaskan state capital of Anchorage.
This soccer-mad nation loves to gamble, on both sports and in casinos. There are over 200 casinos across Mexico, including in the large cities as well as the resort towns of Cancun, Acapulco and Los Cabos.
In general, most island nations in the Caribbean legally allow both casino and sports betting, with Curacao even acting as a global iGaming hub. In terms of land-based gambling, there are several luxury casinos across the Caribbean. The Bahamas is particularly well-served with such casinos, with a total of 3 in the capital Nassau alone. Americans can travel to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands where there are several decent casinos. In fact, the only Caribbean country where gambling is currently illegal is Cuba. It will be interesting to see if that changes as the country of salsa opens up to the West.
This beautiful country has two coastlines, dense jungles, spectacular volcanoes and one of the most fascinating sets of gambling laws. Although residents are not allowed to gamble, Costa Rica is a thriving hub for online casinos which service the US market. What’s more, tourists may also play in one of 32 luxury casinos, mostly centred around the capital San Jose and at the Pacific resorts.
Casinos and bookmakers have been banned in Brazil since 1946, but actually placing a bet on a sports result or the spin of a roulette wheel is legal for residents. That means that Brazilians are heavily into online gambling. There continues to be discussion in parliament about legalizing casinos in Brazil, but as of 2020, the largest country in South America is a dead zone for legal gambling.
In the 2018 soccer World Cup, it was notable that Colombia sent the most fans of any competing country. As many as 68,000 made the trek to Russia, showing the passion that Colombian sports fans have for their national team. This interest translates pretty well to sports betting and casino games too, with the gambling market growing by 68% in the first quarter of 2019. It’s a legal market too, and Colombians can play casino both online and offline in the country, as well as bet on soccer, baseball and all other sports.
Peruvian soccer fans were almost as prolific in Russia as Colombia’s were, and the gambling industry is also 100% legal in this South American country. Peru has no less than 42 casinos in the country. Residents can also play games like slots, roulette and blackjack online, since there is no restriction on signing up with foreign websites. Peru also boasts the highest casino in the Americas, in the Andean city of Huancayo.
Since 2008, one casino has been permitted in each Chilean city. Now there are over 40 of them, including in the capital Santiago, as well as Vina del Mar, Antofagasta and Valparaiso.
Another soccer-obsessed Latin American nation, it might surprise you to learn that online gambling is heavily restricted. In fact, each province can set their own rules, which means players in Buenos Aires city face different restrictions than players in Buenos Aires province. It’s a confusing mess, which is why most sports betting and casino fans tend to play at offshore, unlicensed operators. The land-based sector is a lot more open though, and there are over 100 casinos dotted across the country. Argentina is also home to the most southerly casino in the Americas, in the Patagonian city of Ushuaia.
Follow Sounds and Colours: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Mixcloud / Soundcloud / Bandcamp
Subscribe to the Sounds and Colours Newsletter for regular updates, news and competitions bringing the best of Latin American culture direct to your Inbox.