In this guide, we’re going to talk about casino licensing in Costa Rica, a sunny country located in Central America. However, this jurisdiction is slightly different from other gambling jurisdictions, e.g. those of the UK or Curacao. Why? Well, that’s because there’s no such thing as a Costa Rica gambling license per se. What’s more, there’s even no gambling regulatory authority or gambling legislation in Costa Rica! If you’re feeling confused, that’s alright. Let’s look into this together and make things clear!
The fact that Costa Rica lacks a regulatory framework for e-gambling - or for any type of gambling for that matter - doesn’t mean that you can’t incorporate an igaming business in this country. However, you should know that online gambling is banned on the entire territory of Costa Rica.
At the same time, there are no laws or regulations that would keep you from setting up an igaming business here and start providing igaming and/or sports betting services outside Costa Rica. This is a scheme that many gambling operators are using to their advantage. Opening a company in a self-regulatory environment is an attractive prospect for many entrepreneurs who aspire to conquer the igaming market. The current number of high quality casinos and bookmakers calling Costa Rica their home hovers around 500 and continues to grow by the day.
Of course, registering a high quality casino in Costa Rica has its pros and cons. Since our goal is to give you a full and realistic picture of what it’s like to start a business in Costa Rica, we’re going to see why you consider running a gambling business from Costa Rica and what difficulties you may encounter along the way.
Gambling business in Costa Rica: Pros
- Since registration of igaming businesses account for a big chunk of budget inflows, the Costa Rican government goes an extra mile to make online gambling businesses feel welcome in the country. The Costa Rican authorities are known for their lax policy towards gambling operators targeted at customers outside Costa Rica. You’ll get to benefit from an economically thriving and politically stable environment that favors innovation and creativity.
- Since there’s no gambling regulatory authority in Costa Rica, you don’t actually have to apply for a license, pay licensing costs (and annual license fees), go out on a limb to meet tricky requirements, get your software audited by independent agencies and testing labs, and so on. The lack of any kind of igaming regulation spares you lots of money, time, and nerve cells. Think about how many entrepreneurs invest time and effort into applying for a gambling license and fail to obtain one due to harsh requirements. Plus, they risk losing their precious license as a result of any minor violation of the established rules and regulations! When setting up a business in Costa Rica, you can forget about these worries.
- Our next benefit has to do with the previous one. Online gambling operators don’t have to pay any taxes in Costa Rica. As we're already mentioned, online gambling and sports betting are prohibited in Costa Rica. Once your business is up and running, all of your revenue will be coming from outside the country, and these amounts are not taxed by Costa Rican authorities. So from the financial point of view, running a high quality casino from Costa Rica is a highly beneficial affair.
- Costa Rica is a great starting point for entrepreneurs who want to open a crypto casino. Apart from e-wallets, crypto money is the only available payment option for Costa Rica-registered gambling businesses. Many businessmen use this peculiarity to set up a crypto casino in Costa Rica just to see if the business takes off. If the casino starts to generate a steady profit, the owner can consider transferring it to a licensed gambling jurisdiction. This makes Costa Rica an ideal testing ground for those who are willing to take a careful dive into the crypto world.
Gambling business in Costa Rica: Cons
- If you choose to start a gambling business in Costa Rica, it won’t be regulated or supervised in any way. This entails problems with local banks. The thing is that you won’t be able to open a bank account with Costa Rican banks - at least those that care about their international reputation and standing. Like in the rest of the world, major banks in Costa Rica only work with licensed gambling businesses. If, however, you succeed in obtaining a gambling license issued by a reputable gambling regulator (UK, Alderney, Gibraltar, etc.), you’ll have no trouble opening a bank account in Costa Rica.
- Since your Costa Rican gambling company will lack a gambling license, you won’t be able to use a number of essential payment methods, such as Visa, Mastercard, bank wire, etc. This is a major deal breaker for many gamblers and bettors who won’t be able to make deposits and withdrawals using a big part of familiar banking options. Your only solution is to focus on crypto currencies. With that said, your high quality casino will be a crypto casino that only supports Bitcoin, Litecoin, Tether, and other crypto coins. As for playing and/or betting in fiat currencies, your players will still have access to digital payment methods.
How to set up a gambling company in Costa Rica
An igaming business registered in Costa Rica will allow you to provide a wide array of e-gaming services, such as slots, roulette, blackjack, poker, baccarat, keno, as well as sports betting. You will be allowed to deliver these entertainments to casino enthusiasts and sports bettors all over the globe, except for the countries and geographic regions where gambling is banned, e.g. Costa Rica, select states of the US, etc.
Starting an igaming business in Costa Rica is no rocket science. Depending on your needs and other factors, you can choose between two viable options.
- You can purchase a shelf company. A shelf company is a legal registered business that conducts no activities and has no assets or liabilities. You buy the company and its shares, rename it, change its registered address, and start using it as you like! This option is an easy and hassle-free way to acquire a legit company and “customize” it to your needs.
- Alternatively, you can start a new company from scratch. This process definitely requires more time and financial resources. Incorporating a company is never easy, whether you’re doing it in Sweden, Israel or Costa Rica. You’ll have to pay an incorporation fee, submit a list of documents to Costa Rican authorities, undergo rigorous checks, etc. If you and your business partners don’t feel like doing all this by yourselves, you can commission a specialized agency that will do all the tiresome work for you.
Whichever option you go for, we can assure you that it won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Starting a business in Costa Rica comes with a reasonable price tag that an average startup can easily afford. To establish a local company, you’ll need at least two shareholders. On a brighter note, the Costa Rican authorities do not impose any restrictions in regards to a place of residency, i.e. company directors and shareholders don’t necessarily have to live in Costa Rica. The registration process takes under a month. In other words, Costa Rica seems like a perfect place to launch your igaming business in no time and with zero stress!