The Attorney General of Bolivia estimates that 69% of all gambling houses in Cochabamba, La Paz and Santa Cruz operate illegally. While gambling in the country was completely banned in the late 1930s, Bolivian gambling laws changed in 2002 to allow for most forms of gambling to be licensed. Despite the new laws, however, the industry is not well regulated.
Marco Antonio Cardenas, the director of the National Lottery of Bolivia, was once quoted as calling Bolivia “a gambling company’s paradise”. This is soon to change, as state officials begin an investigation that will target illegal operators.
Several of the country’s largest gambling companies are now under the spotlight. CorHat, Jet Games, Games and Lotex Star Mirage SA have been investigated so far. Some are suspected of operating gambling houses and bingo halls without licenses, or of not paying proper gambling taxes to the Bolivian government.
Many of the legally licensed gambling houses in Bolivia are operated by Russian companies which set up house in Latin America after their own gambling laws became too restrictive. Among these is Moscow based Ritzio International, which has set up bingo halls in Bolivia, Peru, Columbia and Mexico.
Internet bingo in Bolivia is less popular, not so much due to a lack of interest or lack of availability, but rather because of accessibility issues. Getting on the internet and funding an online bingo account is often more work than paying cash at a local unlicensed bingo hall. There are actually no laws against internet gambling in Bolivia; it has simply not reached the same level of popularity as it enjoys in other parts of Latin America and around the world.