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Uruguay, officially the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, is the second smallest country in South America in terms of area, second only to Suriname, and they also have a relatively small population as well, with only 3.3 million people living in Uruguay, with over half the people here living in the capital of Montevideo. (1)
Uruguay is the most liberal country in South America and one of the most liberal countries in the world in fact, and not only is gambling fully legal here, they also have legalized marijuana, and also take very liberal positions on personal freedoms.
Uruguay also is known for its strong economy and has the highest standard of living among all South American countries. While the economy here is based upon agriculture primarily, they have managed to diversify it and are also experiencing a lot of growth lately. (2)
Land based gambling is regulated and controlled by the government run Hipca Rioplatense Uruguay S.A., which was originally set up to regulate horse racing here, and horse racing has been a long standing tradition in Uruguay, going back to 1889. Later, they came to regulate the casinos here as well, once they were built, although they aren’t involved in any online regulation at this time and the laws of Uruguay are silent on the matter at present. (3)
Uruguay also has a national lottery, which isn’t anywhere near as big as some of the other lotteries run in South America, but this is mostly due to the smaller size of this country compared to others in the continent. Uruguayans are also fond of sports betting, particularly on football (soccer) matches. They are the smallest nation to ever win the World Cup and have done so twice, and football is extremely popular here.
As far as the land based gambling here goes, Uruguay is most famous for its casinos, and there are 18 in total, spread out among 15 different cities, and although they are mainly set up to cater to tourists, locals are still welcome there, although many of these casinos are located in tourist resorts, with only 2 in the capital where the majority of Uruguayans live. (4)
While gambling is legal here, this doesn’t mean that all the places you can gamble at are legal, as gambling establishments here have to be licensed and there are some that are not, so they still have an underground gambling scene here although it’s not believed to be all that significant.
Much of the gambling by locals here occurs online, which includes all of the sports betting they do, since there are no legal land based sports betting parlors. About 60% of the people here have access to the internet, which is right up there with other countries in South America and with Uruguay’s relatively higher incomes, this places a lot of people in the situation where they can take advantage of online gambling, which at the present time anyway they can do to their heart’s content.
Playing Poker in Uruguay
Poker has really taken off in popularity in Uruguay over the last few years, and poker now is one of the most popular forms of gambling in Uruguay, particularly Texas Holdem. The Latin American Poker Tour also has a regular stop in Uruguay, and this has helped promote the game, but the biggest influence has definitely been the internet. (5)
There’s not a lot of live poker available here, there are a few poker tables scattered among their casinos, but not many, and the people of Uruguay don’t really frequent these casinos much anyway, but those who wish to play live poker can find some here, and there are a fair number of live tournaments that run at these casinos for those who enjoy that form of poker.
Online poker is a different matter though, and online poker is very popular here, and anyone with an internet connection and a little money to deposit can get involved.
There are also a few online poker players from here who have been very successful playing the game, like Fabrizio Gonzalez, who has racked up more than $3 million in online poker tournament winnings thus far. The success of players such as Gonzalez and other countrymen definitely helps fuel the popularity of poker in Uruguay. (6)
While the government has stood by idly all this time in the face of all the online gambling and poker that goes on in Uruguay, that may change soon, as there is talk of regulating online gambling here. The most interesting part of this though is that, unlike in a lot of places, there’s a lot of focus online poker as well as online casino and online sports betting, which gives you an idea of how big online poker is here.
The feeling here is that the government has missed out on a lot of tax revenue by not regulating it for all these years, and there has been a desire to regulate it for some years now, although nothing has come to pass as of yet. (7)
It’s hard to say at this point what this will end up looking like for poker players, but it does appear that some sort of regulation will be put into place in the near future here. The hope is that they don’t seek to botch things up and just drive online poker underground, and Uruguay is too small of a market to sustain their own poker scene, so any workable plan will need to involve allowing them to play at the big international sites while taxing them on their play.
For now though, Uruguayan online poker players are free to play anywhere they want, without being taxed, so players surely are in no hurry for changes here, and most of the top online poker sites warmly accept players from Uruguay. It’s hard to say if that will change with new laws being put into place, but it likely will restrict play at least somewhat. So now’s the time to get in on this if you are from Uruguay.
Top Online Poker Sites Accepting Players from Uruguay
The good news here is that only one of our top 5 online poker sites in the world don’t accept Uruguayan players, so you still have 4 of these great poker sites to choose from if you live in Uruguay. New players to all of these sites are rewarded with generous bonus offers to get you hitting the ground running.
888 Poker is a great place to start if you’ve never had an account there before. They are our highest rated poker room and part of the reason is that you don’t even need to make a deposit yet to start playing with real money, they will just give you some. Everything else about this place is top notch as well.
Another new site that has joined the party here in Uruguay is PPI Poker. They currently offer ALL NEW PLAYERS 35% rakeback and a ton of deposit options for you to consider. This is one of my most solid recommendations as of right now.
In addition, Titan Poker and Bet365 Poker are also great places to play online poker. They are on the same network, and like 888 Poker, these places have lots of traffic and are among the world’s most popular places to play online poker. Just pick one, they are both very good.
Black Chip Poker is another very good choice, the traffic here isn’t quite as big as the other 3 but they do make up for it with even easier competition, and this isn’t a poker site that the sharks like to hang out which makes things even better for us.