Betting Sites in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a presidential republic in Latin America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south, and has become a center for online gambling companies due to its lax attitude towards online gambling regulations. Despite the absence of a regulatory agency, sportsbooks and betting sites in Costa Rica remain popular. This article provides an introduction to Costa Rica’s legal framework, the history of gambling laws, regulatory agencies, types of gambling licenses, fees and taxes on betting sites and sportsbooks.

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Costa Rica Gambling Licensing and Regulation

Costa Rica does not have a gambling licensing and regulatory body which is specialized. The Ministry of Public Security is the one which gives out licenses for gaming machines and tables to land-based casinos, while the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Commerce issues commercial licenses. Now, the gambling industry is neither regulated nor allowed to provide services in Costa Rica. Nevertheless, a lot of the registered gambling businesses are located in Costa Rica and they provide services all over the world. It is the best jurisdiction for startups and small businesses as it has a low-cost, flexible business environment.

Although the jurisdiction of Costa Rica is not regulated, it is still considered as a trusted one. Being an OECD member, Costa Rica follows the international standards and best business practices that in turn give confidence to investors and clients.

Gambling Law and Regulation in Costa Rica – 5 Things to Know

The gambling laws of Costa Rica are not rigid.

The tax on gambling in Costa Rica is very little.

The online gambling is not taxed in Costa Rica.

And the brick & mortar casinos are also taxed and fees.

Players in Costa Rica do not have to pay taxes on their winnings.

The Historical Context of the Gambling Legislation

Private gambling has been formally prohibited but de facto legalized in Costa Rica since 1886, so it is the first country of the Caribbean to regulate games of chance officially. Key pieces of gambling legislation include:

2008: The Law of Casinos (Costa Rican Gambling)

2012: The Law of Tax on Casinos and Companies which provide the Electronic Betting Linking Calls (Costa Rica Casino Law)

JPS, the state lottery operator is the only one who has a monopoly on all forms of gambling except for casinos and it is legal. According to Law No. 8718, the JPS has the monopoly over:

  • Establishment, management, selling and advertising of all the lotteries (both pre-printed and electronic)
  • Sports betting
  • Games
  • Video-lotteries
  • Other gambling products within the country, beside casinos.

The Law for Betting Sites in Costa Rica

The Costa Rican gambling industry is governed by the Law for the Regulation of Betting, Casinos and Games of Chance (File No. 17,551) which was made in 2010. Key stipulations include:

  • 1. The native citizens are prohibited from gambling for real money at land-based casinos.
  • 2. The natives can gamble in online casinos as long as the companies are not licensed in Costa Rica.
  • 3. The non-residents can also participate in the gambling activities online that are available to everyone and on-the-ground.

The establishment and operation of any company in Costa Rica are regulated by the Commercial Code (N. ° 3284). Business entities available for aspiring online gambling operators include:

  • SA (Anonymous Society): Equal to a private company.
  • SRL (Limited Liability Company): It is the same as an LLC, which provides protection from claims on your personal assets. At least 25% of the issued capital should be paid upon incorporation.

The Kinds of Licenses for Gambling Companies in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica hasn’t a particular gambling licensing system. On the contrary, companies work under the “Data Processing” license which is appropriate for online gambling firms. Requirements include:

  • It should be a Costa Rican corporation.
  • The registration with the local tax authorities.
  • A commercial license from the local government is the document for you to run a business.

Establishment of Gambling Laws and Key Dates

  • 1886: The private gambling becomes the de facto legal.
  • 1999: Online gambling, which was private and now it has become de facto legal.
  • 2008: Costa Rican Gambling Law was approved.
  • 2010: Betting, Casinos and Games of Chance Regulation Law passed.
  • 2012: The Costa Rica Casino Law was put into effect.

Gambling Taxes and Fees in Costa Rica

Online Gambling Tax:

  • The companies in Costa Rica are not subjected to the tax on income they get from abroad.
  • Online gambling operators, who can only accept players from other countries and thus do not pay either the gambling or corporate taxes.

Brick & Mortar Gambling Tax:

  • 10% of the net income of natural or legal persons from legally authorized casino operations is what they get.
  • The authorized gaming tables receive 60% of the base salary for each.
  • 10% of the base salary is paid for each authorized slot machine within casinos.

Player Taxation:

  • The gambling winnings in Costa Rica are not taxable.
  • The 25% tax proposed on the big lottery winnings in 2020 was turned down.


Costa Rica provides a special atmosphere for betting sites and sports betting operations because of the absence of strict regulations and the low costs. The history of the country’s gambling legislation, along with its membership in the OECD, creates a good environment for startups and established businesses. Although, private gambling is strictly prohibited by law, its de facto legal status gives a lot of flexibility. Nevertheless, operators should be aware of the legal and tax issues that they will have to face while running a gambling business in Costa Rica.

FAQs about Betting Sites in Costa Rica

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