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Nicaragua has gone through a lot of turmoil in its recent history, most notably a long civil war that lasted for almost 30 years, between the left wing Sandinistas and the American backed Contras. One of the events of this war was the Iran Contra Affair where the Americans were found to be selling arms to enemy Iran to raise money for their side of this war. (1)
In spite of the involvement of the U.S., the Sandinistas prevailed, and in 1979 when they finally came to power, they put an end to gambling in Nicaragua, making all forms of it illegal. This ban persisted until 2006, when the lottery was made legal, and in 2011 the government relented and passed a bill which allowed the for licensing of several casinos under certain conditions, and gambling in Nicaragua was reborn. (2)
Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, the third poorest, with a poverty rate of almost 50%. All those decades of war certainly took its toll on the country, and have only rebounded a bit lately, but more needs to be done to bring Nicaragua out of the Third World. That won’t happen anytime soon although a little progress has been made lately at least.
Nicaragua has about 6 million people, mostly working in agriculture, and while Central America is agriculture based primarily, Nicaragua relies on it even more than other Central American countries do. The economy here isn’t very diversified like you see in some of the better off countries in Latin America, and they will need to broaden their economy to better themselves economically.
One of the ways that they’ve been looking to do this is through tourism, which has really grown since the civil war ended here. One of the reasons why they changed their mind to allow casinos was to attract more tourists, and the casino business here might be small but it is certainly growing, and the idea is to bring people in to see this beautiful country and give them an opportunity to gamble a little as well, and it is working. (3)
There are now a total of 19 casinos in Nicaragua, spread out in 7 different cities, with the capital Managua having 11 alone. The casino count here has doubled in just a few years, and may continue to grow, as their success continues. (4)
The casinos are the only form of legal gambling in Nicaragua, and legal gambling here has only been going on for a few years now, and the focus is still primarily on attracting tourists with the gambling here, although residents with the means to play can partake in the action as well.
As the majority of Nicaraguans get by on less than $2 a day, casino gambling is well out of reach of most of the people here, so while they do have legal gambling now, the scope of it is very small at present.
However, locals here do now have the ability to play the lottery, which is a lot more accessible, and scratch tickets are particularly popular among the people of Nicaragua. Other than that, there is said to be some illegal gambling that goes on, particularly with sports betting, which remains completely illegal here.
There is certainly some room for expansion of the gambling scene here and as time goes on we may see more smaller venues pop up, if the government ends up opening up things even more, which they may indeed do.
Playing Poker in Nicaragua
Given that legal gambling is fairly new here, poker hasn’t seen anywhere near the rise in popularity that many other Latin American countries have seen. The growth of poker takes a lot more than casinos offering it to promote it, it’s mostly a media affair, and it’s just not that big in the media now.
The internet has certainly driven the popularity of poker as well, and is the biggest driving force behind its growth, but given that Nicaragua has the lowest internet penetration of any Central American country, at only 15%, this has hampered things, as it has also hampered people actually playing online poker.
The laws here are silent when it comes to whether online gambling and online poker are legal or not, so there’s nothing really stopping people here from playing it, other than things like a lack of interest in the game, a lack of internet access, and a lack of money to play with. (5)
So those are significant barriers right now that are keeping Nicaragua from making any real impact on the poker scene in general, including live poker, and while there are some opportunities to play it at a few casinos, there is a very limited amount of live poker tables here.
Most of the live poker that is offered at the casinos consist of casino variations such as Caribbean Stud, which isn’t what a real poker player would consider to be real poker anyway, although there is a little live poker and a few tournaments that are run here, but very little of it.
There are probably some home games that run here, but whatever does go on here goes on in secret, and you of course have to know the host to be invited. (6) Other than that, there’s always online poker, and if you do have access to the internet, can make a deposit, and have an interest in poker, there are several very good online poker sites that are more than happy to accept you as a player if you are from Nicaragua.
Top Online Poker Sites Accepting Players From Nicaragua
Only one of our top 5 recommended online poker sites in the world don’t accept players from Nicaragua, which is Party Poker, but they don’t take players from a lot of countries and are by far the fussiest of the major sites.
No matter though, because the other four do, and we’re not out to water down the list by replacing this selection, so here’s our four best online poker sites for players from Nicaragua.
888 Poker is simply the best poker site on the internet in our opinion, and that’s just not our opinion either, as many people agree. They are immensely popular among online poker players as well, and have tons of traffic along with an excellent selection of different poker formats, including some you won’t find anywhere else.
Titan Poker and 365 Poker are both very close, and since they are both on the same poker network, the iPoker Network, the largest in the world, we’ll mention them together. These are also very popular sites among players and they tend to retain their players at a high percentage, which really shows how well liked they are.
Black Chip Poker is a fast rising poker site and for a long time wasn’t that well known by a lot of online poker players, but it’s grown enough lately to make our list. Of course this growth is in combination with a lot of other things that we like to see in a poker site, and it is well worthy of your checking it out as well.
All of these top online poker sites offer new players generous first time bonuses to try them out, so if you haven’t played at one of more of these poker sites before, you’re invited to do so.