Pacific Ocean seashores, mountainous and precipitous terrain, surf spots, the Ruta de Las Flores, waterfalls, rainforests, coffee ranches, volcanoes, museums, vivid wall paintings, and Juayúa’s weekend food festival are few of the attributes which make El Salvador one of the most remarkable Central American countries. Although miniature, El Salvador’s gambling industry might just be another perk in addition to its long list of perquisites.
History of Casinos in El Salvador
In the 11th century, the Pipil Indians migrated to this territory known today as El Salvador. Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado eventually conquered the territory in 1525. Alongside other Central American countries, El Salvador declared itself independent of Spain on 16 September 1821. The Central American Federation was established but soon dissolved in 1838. This was when El Salvador became fully independent.
From independence to mid-20th century, El Salvador fought other Central American countries (especially Honduras) and was ruled by different military dictators – in addition to its poor economy and societal problems. The country then witnessed a 12-year civil war which evolved the country to a democratic rule. Despite the democracy, however, El Salvador still struggled with a number of atrocities and broad corruptions. What’s more? The 1998 Hurricane Mitch and numerous 2001 earthquakes shook the country even more.
Because of these nationwide problems, the country’s gambling industry didn’t have a quick or smooth start. The first footprint of gambling in the country was in 1882 when the government banned all games of chance. Despite the widely broadcasted ban, the majority perfectly neglected the ban and went on to run and participate in games of chance. The law was further reinforced in the year 2002 when the El Salvadoran Congress vetoed the proposed legalization of gambling. As a result, all forms of gambling except lottery were deemed illegal.
According to the 2002 decree, casinos were (and still are) permitted to offer only lottery games. Again, the law was taken with levity as there are casinos within El Salvador with table games and gaming machines.
Before 2002, the government licensed bingo halls within the country. But immediately the law became effective, the licenses of the bingo halls were never renewed until this day. Also, a 1983 Municipal Code indicated that municipalities can deal with gambling activities and facilities within their respective territories. This is an addition to the confusion in understanding how the government was (and is) treating gambling in El Salvador.
Summarily, all forms of gambling except lottery are illegal according to the law of the land. However, the greater percentage of El Salvadorans and facility operators completely ignore the law – and the authority has given up on restricting gambling within the country.
Despite El Salvador’s enormous tourist-friendly environment and attractions, its gambling industry is more of a drawback.
Current Gambling Climate
As mentioned earlier, the lottery is the only legal form of gambling within the country. The populace has, however, turned deaf ears to the law and happily enjoy all forms of gambling available. Therefore, the authority is no more concerned with the restriction or legalization of gambling facilities and activities within the country.
Further, there is a total number of four casinos in this Central American country. The casinos are most exquisite and luxurious. The country itself is outstanding and apparently tourist-friendly. However, the gambling industry is not as massive as expected. Still, the gambling scene or environment is serene and can satisfy tourists and visitors with ease.
Casinos in El Salvador by Area
In El Salvador, all casinos – four in total – are located in three cities. Monte Carlo Casino and Casino Crown Colonial San Miguel are located in Santa Ana and San Miguel respectively. Siesta Hotel & Casino and Casino Crown Colonial San Salvador are both situated in the largest and capital city of El Salvador-San Salvador-and offer more than 244 gaming machines and 18 table games altogether.
Furthermore, the largest gambling facility in El Salvador is Casino Crown Colonial San Salvador. The casino features 15 table games, 154 gaming machines and 10,000 square feet land mass. The second largest gambling facility in El Salvador is Siesta Hotel & Casino, with four table games and about 100 gambling machines.
Types of Casinos in El Salvador
Casinos in El Salvador offer games such as blackjack, Texas Hold’em, slot machines, Pai Gow, video poker, roulette, Caribbean Stud poker and electronic bingo. Two out of the four El Salvadoran casinos include hotels and related services, while the other two owned by Crown Group, Inc. are casinos exclusively.
Horse and dog racing are uncommon forms of gambling in the country, mainly because there isn’t a racino or racetrack. Moving on, sports betting is generally perceived as an illegal act. In fact, there are no reports of a sports betting shop or operator in El Salvador.
There is a national lottery operated by the El Salvadoran government called the Loteria Nacional de Beneficencia. The lottery provides drawings once a month and offers two lottery games: Lotin and Lotra. While the former is a widely played scratch lottery game, the latter is a series of traditional lottery draws.
Ultimately, online gambling is not regulated and a controversial form of gambling. El Salvadorans can participate in the lottery, sports betting, casino gambling, bingo, poker and other forms of gambling offered online as long as they are based outside the country.
List of Casinos in El Salvador
Below is a list of all casinos currently operating in the regions of El Salvador.
Casino Crown Colonial San Miguel
Casino Crown Colonial San Salvador
Monte Carlo Casino
Siesta Hotel & Casino
Facts About Casinos in El Salvador
– The minimum gambling age in El Salvador is 18 years according to the law.
– The majority of people ignored an 1882 law which restricted gambling on games of chance. The 2002 law was also welcomed with negligence.
– On 5 July 1870, the Loteria del Hospital was founded. Later on 1 January 1871, the national lottery was renamed the Loteria Nacional de Beneficencia and the first drawings took place.
– The Loteria Nacional de Beneficencia has been holding drawings on a monthly basis since 1900. Before then, drawings were held only three times a year.
– The Loteria Nacional de Beneficencia was initially created to help the government fund a local hospital in the country. Today, the generated revenues are used for various purposes.
– El Salvador is one of the few countries where sports betting is (almost) completely nonexistent.
– According to local info, only state majors can license a bingo hall.
– The Loteria Nacional de Beneficencia have retailers in Apopa, Chalchuapa, San Miguel, San Salvador, Santa Ana, Santa Rosa de Lima, Santa Tecla, Sonsonate, Usulutan, and Zacatecoluca.
– When the top prize is up to $125,000, Lotra is also known as La Millonaria and Especial del Billetero. When the top prize is up to $250,000, however, Lotra is also known as Extraordinario.
– The scratch lottery game Lotin was established on 12 December 1988.
– More than 363 million tickets of Lotin have been sold throughout the country.
– Initially, the Salvadoran colon was the official currency of the country. The US dollar was made an official currency in 2001. As a result, colon soon (precisely 2004) became a thing of the past.
– El Salvador is the standout Central American nation without a population from Africa.
– While Spanish is the official language, the majority of people speak English fluently.