Ecuador enforced a rather unwelcome national gambling ban this week as the life of the slot machines in Quito, Ecuador’s last casino, finally fell to its eerily silent death. The change to the Ecuadorian gambling laws now means that gambling is illegal in the country, and this could drive gambling deep down underground on a criminal level.
Ecuador’s President, Rafael Correa, has offered existing casinos just a mere six months to wrap up their affairs and close down their operations before the ban took effect formally this week, after being handed a referendum which strongly suggested the voters wished for time of the casinos to come to an end.
Even as the casino closed it doors on its final night, music played and employees closed up knowing they wouldn’t be seeing the vibrant atmosphere return to Montecarlo, the last casino in Ecuador again. Some staff though, like the manager of the now defunct Montecarlo Casino, Pedro Sanchez, had a stark warning for the originators of the ban. “Mafias will be competing for the trade with a gun,” Mr. Sanchez said.
He might not too far off the point as the many gamblers who once frequented the casinos are now faced with three options. Give up completely, gamble underground or seek out those websites offering internet gambling in Ecuador, which if possible at all, won’t be for very long.
In these recent events, Ecuador gambling news estimates that up to 3,000 people have lost their jobs directly and that another 22,000 may find themselves jobless indirectly. Those who have been axed along with the casinos have been reportedly offered a settlement package and the option of career retraining if they wish so.
Whilst the Ecuadorian government believes it is only the employees at the casinos who are against the move, certain residents spoke out to highlight their own frustration at the closure of the Montecarlo and others like it. 70 year old Rosa Iturralde, who frequently visited the casino with her husband spoke out: “we are in mourning too. This place will be greatly missed, we are adults who are just seeking a little joy, not idiots coming to squander our money.”
Although she wasn’t alone in opinion, others were delighted at the news of the casino ban: “I thank God, and the president, for freeing us from this yoke that made me lose my family and my savings,” one resident said.
Just how the government will expect to control illegal gambling in a time when many countries are considering legalizing it, hasn’t been accounted for, and those who feel they have been unduly punished because of the lack of will power of some die-hard gamblers will almost certainly not be throwing in the towel any time soon, leaving Ecuador with a bigger problem than it had in the first place, it is rumored.