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Bolivia is a decent sized country of a little over 10 million people, and has quite a bit of mineral wealth, particularly tin, although they are among the poorest countries in South America in spite of that. Still though, the economy has grown at a pretty rapid pace over the last few years, so things are getting better here. (1)
For most of Bolivia’s recent history, gambling has been illegal, although illegal gambling joints did thrive here during this time. Bolivia may not be a very wealthy country but they do like to gamble, whether it is legal or not.
Illegal gambling had become so widespread in fact that in 1996 the government issued 200 temporary licenses to casinos and slot machine parlors to try to get a handle on the problem. These temporary licenses led to permanent ones being granted to several operators as in 2002 casino gambling was officially made legal. (2)
Nowadays, in spite of Bolivia having such a modest population, they now have an impressive number of casinos, totaling 80, the most of any country in Latin America. This casino bonanza over the past few years has been driven primarily by Russian investors, after Russia banned casinos other than in just a few select areas a few years back, and the casino money looked elsewhere. (3)
So Bolivia was one of the benefactors of this new gambling investment, and a major one in fact, and nowadays the casino business in Bolivia is booming. Bolivia’s gambling laws are interesting though as they don’t allow for a full range of casino gambling, and this has stifled the market somewhat but it still is quite vibrant.
While there are only 4 licensed gambling operators in Bolivia, one of the unique characteristics of their gambling licensure is that once an operator receives a license, they can open as many casinos and betting operations as they wish, something that operators no doubt found very appealing, and this has really led to some real expansion of the market. (4)
In spite of all these legal gambling locations, illegal gambling remains rampant in Bolivia, and still comprises a significant element of the domestic gambling market. There is said to be at least 200 illegal slot parlors that still operate in the country.
There have been some issues lately with the government getting greedier with taxation, and in 2011 the current government increased the tax rate significantly, and now it’s highly taxed indeed, and there is a feeling that this might cause some operations to go under and transfer the lost business to the illegal and untaxed gambling operations.
There is a lot of land based gambling that goes on here though, and that’s not likely to stop, and Bolivia has a full assortment of gambling options, including not only the casinos and slot parlors, but sports betting and poker as well, in addition to the national lottery. (5)
Playing Poker in Bolivia
Up until recently, poker wasn’t a popular game at all in Bolivia, although with the expansion of the gambling market in general, over time at least some demand has arose such that some of the casinos now do offer live poker in addition to their normal casino fare.
Over the last few years though, poker is starting to grow in popularity here, albeit pretty modestly, and not long ago they didn’t even have video poker here, although that did start to emerge, and more players were introduced to the game that way, which eventually led to enough people wanting to try the real game out that poker tables started to crop up in the casinos. (6)
In addition to that, Bolivian poker players can take advantage of the limitless opportunities to play online poker, and Bolivia has come a long way recently in extending internet access to their people, and these days about 40% of Bolivians have access to online poker, a fairly respectable percentage.
Online gambling is legal here, and the only thing stopping Bolivians from playing online is having an internet connection and a little money to deposit, although this also requires enough of an interest in the game, and that’s the major area of opportunity here.
Bolivia now has a national poker championship though so that has helped spread the word about the game, although poker here is still in its infancy pretty much and could stand to be popularized quite a bit more to catch up with many of its South American neighbors, who have taken to the game more quickly in recent years.
With land based poker opportunities still being pretty limited here, and the fact that online poker is so readily available and is also so convenient, as you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home to enjoy the game of poker online, the expansion of the online poker market here shows a lot of promise.
Bolivia does not have regulated poker yet, and it may be some time before that ever happens, but there is a wide array of foreign sites that are more than happy to take players from Bolivia. Bolivia even has a poker site exclusively targeted to players from here, although it pales in comparison to the best sites on the internet, still though that’s a good sign that poker is indeed growing here.
Top Poker Sites Accepting Players from Bolivia
We have an excellent selection of top online poker sites for you if you are from Bolivia and are looking to partake in some online poker, and want to play with the best. Almost all of the top online poker sites offer play to Bolivians, and since it’s legal for you to play poker online, and if you are reading this you do have access to the internet, there’s nothing stopping you from giving one or more of these great sites a try.
In addition, if you haven’t tried out one or more of these top recommendations before, they all are happy to reward you with extra poker cash just for you to see what they have to offer you.
888 Poker has been around for a very long time now, since the dawn of online poker, and have always been one of the best online poker sites on the internet, and have only gotten better and even more popular over the years. They have been named the internet’s top online poker site, and we agree, and you may as well.
There are other very good poker rooms to check out as well, like Titan Poker and Bet 365 Poker for instance. Both of these sites share the same network along with dozens of other poker rooms, and by pooling their traffic, you get access to a much bigger level of traffic than you would otherwise. These sites, like 888, are top notch as well.
Black Chip Poker rounds out our top 4 picks for Bolivians, and this site isn’t as well known as the others but is well worth checking out if you are not yet familiar with what they have to offer, and what they do have for you is impressive, like all of our top recommendations do.