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Ecuador – Gambling could return after popular consultation

By - 8 January 2024

The return of casinos, slot halls and sports betting could be part of a popular consultation. The return of gambling is one of 11 questions that President Daniel Noboa  wants Ecuadorians to answer in an upcoming referendum on key issues. The questions were sent to the Constitutional Court for approval. During his election campaign, President Noboa offered to call a popular consultation in 2024.

Gambling is covered in question eleven.

“Do you agree with allowing the operation of casinos, game rooms, betting houses or businesses dedicated to gambling, under the conditions detailed in the Annex to question 11?”

In the request sent to the court the authorization of casinos is presented as a solution that, “as long as it is carefully regulated, will contribute to strengthen economic stability and consequently mitigate insecurity in dangerous areas.”

According to the executive, casinos offer not only direct employment opportunities, but also indirect jobs as well which in turn boost the local economy. Tourism, influenced by the presence of casinos would also improve public safety. The authorization of casinos, game rooms, betting houses and other businesses dedicated to gambling also helps combat illegal gambling activities via regulation and control, according to the executive branch.

In the annex to question 11 the executive states that if the question is approved, “the President of the Republic, within a maximum period of 20 days following the publication of the results, will submit the bill containing the reforms to comply with the provisions of this question. The operation of casinos, gaming halls, betting houses or businesses dedicated to gambling must have a zone delimitation, minimum investment amounts, infrastructure requirements, and a rate will be established for the benefit of mental health treatment and public safety. The National Assembly will have a maximum period of 90 days to debate and approve the legal reform, in accordance with the procedure provided for in the relevant law.”

Ecuador banned all types of gambling after a referendum was held under the administration of left wing populist Rafael Correa in 2010. Casinos had been present for over fifty years before then and were quite large scale and were present mostly in Quito and the Port of Guayaquil. Under previous legislation, casinos operating in Ecuador had to offer—in addition to slots—at least four different types of table gaming in five-star hotels and two to three types of table gaming in three- and four-star hotels, respectively.

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