SBC News Ecuador considers lifting decade-old gambling ban
Ecuador Credit: Shutterstock

Ecuador considers lifting decade-old gambling ban

Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa has given the Constitutional Court 11 questions to survey the country’s population as part of a Public Consultation, some of which will focus on the betting and gaming industry. 

Sent by Noboa on 2 January, the Constitutional Court will have 20 days to hand out notices about the questions, the last of which will focus on regulating the country’s gambling sector. 

As of now, brick-and-mortar casinos and bingo halls across Ecuador have been banned since 2011. However, the absence of an explicit ban for online gaming has created a grey area in the sector.   

President Noboa will now look to reverse this by lifting the ban and introducing a widespread regulatory regime that spans across the whole industry, supporting Ecuador’s economy and providing a healthy stream of new jobs along the way. 

Translated from Spanish, the question on regulations reads: “Do you agree that the operation of casinos, gambling halls, bookmakers or businesses dedicated to gambling is allowed, under the conditions detailed in the Annex to question 11?”

Furthermore, it was also highlighted that the potential unlocking of the gambling market is a “solution that, as long as it is carefully regulated, will contribute to strengthening economic stability and consequently, mitigate insecurity in dangerous areas”.

In addition, official comments revealed that since 2011, the prohibition has “negatively impacted the generation of employment, with 25,000 places lost, which were established in the 160 gambling halls nationwide,” and that “offering job opportunities and contributing to tax revenues, can help counter the economic disparity”.

Support for the abolition of the restrictions has already been seen across other industries. 

For example, experts argue that the ban’s removal will help rejuvenate the tourism sector by opening up a large number of jobs and generating greater investment interest. 

Holbach Muñeton, President of the National Federation of Provincial Chambers of Tourism of Ecuador (Fenacaptur), added: “We see it with optimism, as a support, a support for the tourism industry. Ecuadorians must understand that this not only benefits tourism, it benefits the country, shrimp, fishing, industry, commerce.”

Fenacaptur estimates have shown that the ban has significantly damaged the influx of tourists, which was around 400,000 per year prior to the 2011 referendum that gave the former President Rafael Correa the power to eliminate gambling venues.  

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