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Ecuador is a modestly sized country on the northwest coast of South America, with a population of about 16 million. It is known for its diverse ecology, and also has a decent amount of natural resources, which it relies fairly heavily on in its economy.
Ecuador is by no means the most affluent of South American countries, and per capita GDP is less than half of what better off countries on the continent have, but they are making up some real ground lately. Ecuador is considered a developing country, but they have been developing, and have reduced their extreme poverty rate from 40% in 2001 to only 17% in 2011. (1)
So while incomes are on the rise here, putting more and more people in a position to use more disposable income on things like gambling, the political and legal climate has taken a turn in the opposite direction in Ecuador of late, at least where land based gambling is concerned.
For half a century, gambling in Ecuador was fully legal, and gambling flourished here. Ecuador was in fact one of the biggest gambling centers in South America. They had 55 land based casinos alone, in addition to 120 smaller slot parlors, and numerous sports books and bingo halls, and all of this became shut down with the passing of a new law.
In 2010, plans were announced by the government to shut down all the gambling in the country, and this went to a referendum in 2011. In spite of a little less than half of voters voting for gambling prohibition, the Ecuadorian government went ahead with the ban, and legal land based gambling in Ecuador was no more. (2)
The official reason for this crackdown was a concern over crime and money laundering in the gambling business, and there may have been some of that going on, but Ecuador’s gambling industry was well developed and included the involvement of several well respected hotel and casino operators.
So if this was the real intent here then banning it would not really be the appropriate response, cleaning it up would have been, but the real issue seems to have been ideological, as the left wing government appears to be opposed to the idea of gambling in general, and they ended up having their say.
What this did do though is drive gambling underground here, which no doubt has increased the rate of crime associated with it, and if you want to cut down on criminal activities associated with gambling, you don’t outlaw it, as this makes it worse, you regulate and control it, which is what they used to do here.
They also walked away from a significant amount of tax dollars, in addition to the other impacts that the shutdown has had on the economy, for instance putting 25,000 people out of work, and this is a developing country so it’s not that they are so well off that they can afford to reduce it. Ideology though often trumps economics though and this is clearly a case of this happening. (3)
There is said to be underground land based gambling that still goes on here but the land based gambling economy is just a shadow of what it once was. Perhaps this will all change if a more gambling friendly government gets elected in Ecuador one day, but there is nothing to suggest that will happen soon.
Playing Poker in Ecuador
Poker caught on in Ecuador in recent years, as it has in several other Latin American countries, and the Latin American Poker Tour used to come here, but they don’t any more of course, since land based gambling and poker is no longer legal or authorized.
Whatever live poker that still goes on here is played in secret, and while you used to be able to play poker at the casinos, the casinos are all closed now, at least the legal ones. So people are left to find private games or play at one of the underground establishments if one can find one that offers poker, or play online. (4)
Ecuador’s new anti gambling law just pertains to gambling based in the country though, in other words it‘s targeted towards operators in Ecuador, and doesn’t make online gambling at foreign gambling and poker sites illegal, and since almost all poker these days is played online, this new law hasn’t affected Ecuadorian poker players much really, other than not being able to play live poker at the casinos.
With some countries that have made gambling illegal, there may be few online poker sites that are willing to take players from these countries, and there has been a real movement within the online poker industry to exclude players from many countries from their sites.
This is not the case with Ecuador though, fortunately, and most of the best online poker sites accept players from Ecuador with no issues at all, so you can select from some very good ones indeed, and all of the top ones also offer you the ability to play in Spanish if you wish, the official language of Ecuador.
The laws here don’t allow sites based in Ecuador to operate online poker rooms, but who cares really when you can freely play at the best online poker sites in the world. These international sites are far better than anything that could be put together only targeting Ecuadorians anyway, so it‘s all good. (5)
Top Online Poker Sites Accepting Players From Ecuador
We have four very good selections for you if you are from Ecuador and want to play online poker at a great online poker site that is willing to let you play there. All of these picks we have for you are top notch and also all offer generous bonus cash just for you to give them a try.
888 Poker has been around since the early days of online poker, and started out as a good site that not a lot of people had heard of at the time, and they just got better and better over the years, and how good they are is no secret at all nowadays. This is the second most popular site in the world now, second only to Poker Stars, without pitting you against the very tough players that Poker Stars has. This is a much better site overall than they are.
Bet 365 and Titan Poker are also are right up there in the traffic rankings with 888, and have been around for quite a while as well. They both offer you access to the iPoker Network which is a collection of many poker rooms sharing traffic, but these are the two best on there, and both know how to take care of their players.
Finally, Black Chip Poker is our diamond in the rough pick for you, the traffic isn’t quite as heavy as the other 3 we have for you but there is plenty of traffic anyway, and the players here are of lower caliber overall than you usually see on a major poker site, which is something that all poker players should really like, as the weaker the competition, the better you will do at the game.