How developed is the casino industry in El Salvador

El Salvador’s gambling industry is full of controversies and legal restrictions, but it still thrives in the country. You can play in many land-based casino hotels or enjoy games in numerous online game clubs. And that’s despite a bunch of laws that clearly ban most forms of gambling. Below, we’ll explain how a country with such strict laws may have a fast-growing casino industry. Here’s what you should know about gambling in El Salvador.

Laws and Regulations

Most forms of gambling are prohibited in El Salvador, except those officially allowed by the state government. The casino industry, however, operates full-scale in the country de facto. It became possible due to the 1983 Constitution and the 1986 Presidential Decree, which have significantly increased the power of local municipalities and their independence from the central government. Despite the state ban on gambling, regional authorities even issue their casino licenses.

The history of gambling legislation in El Salvador started in 1882 when the government bill prohibited all forms of gambling in the country. It didn’t touch the National Lottery, which was launched in 1870 and remains legal in 2023.

The government made a few attempts to reinforce the legislative restrictions of the casino sphere. The biggest one was in 2002 when it tried to shut down local casinos. This didn’t work out because local authorities and operators mostly ignored the new decree. The country’s largest land-based gambling venues still operate and accept players.

Today, the legal status of the casino industry in El Salvador still remains unclear. The official ban was not lifted, but casinos operate without significant obstacles half-legally.

In 2021, the Ministry of Finance introduced an Online Gambling Bill to regulate the industry and give the National Lottery the instruments to supervise internet and land-based casinos in the country. This, together with the news that El Salvador plans to launch an officially-approved virtual casino with NFT trading, is a big step further to gambling laws liberalization by the state government.

Online Gambling in El Salvador

There are no specific laws that regulate online casinos in El Salvador. This niche is currently in the gray zone. Though there’s an opinion that its legal cause no official ban exists, online gambling status in the country is “unregulated”.

Since gamblers meet no legal obstacles, they are free to play online on foreign sites. You can visit the Best Casino Play website, choose a reliable casino, and gamble for real. There are no penalties or even fines for that.

El Salvador has no local authority to regulate the niche and issue licenses. Hence, players have only offshore sites to choose from.

Land-Based Casinos in El Salvador

Mortar-and-Brick gambling venues in the country are not officially allowed by the state government. However, they still operate under protection and with the consent of regional authorities. There are several big casinos and many smaller game clubs.

The biggest casinos in the country are:

  • Casino Crown Colonial San Salvador.
  • Siesta Hotel & Casino.
  • Casino Monte Carlo.
  • Casino Crown Colonial San Miguel.
  1. Taxes on Winnings

Players don’t have to pay taxes on winnings they get in online and offline casinos. It’s true both for local land-based venues and offshore gambling sites.

The companies that launch casino businesses in the country should pay a 30% income tax and a few other fees.

The Future of the Casino Industry in El Salvador

Heavy legislative restrictions remain the biggest problem for the country’s gambling niche. They stop it from further growth, disregarding potential benefits for the state budget.

However, we’re sure that the future of casino industry in El Salvador is promising at least. The 2021 Online Gambling Bill by the Ministry of Finance,  the 2022 plans to launch a legal virtual casino, and Bitcoin recognition on the state level open wide opportunities for industry growth.

Final Thoughts

Despite strict regulations from the government, the casino industry of El Salvador is constantly growing and evolving. Should all the restrictions be lifted, it will blossom with even stronger power. The country has an opportunity to become one of the world’s gambling capitals and relish all the benefits of this status, including increased tourism and a significant flow of taxes to the state budget.

About the Author

Christian Duke is an experienced author with his articles published on the most popular and trusted web platforms. His sphere of interest encompasses finance, travel, gaming, and many other niches. Christian has a sophisticated writing style honed with years of experience, research, and self-improvement.