Currency: Boliviano (BOB)
Time Zone: UTC-4
Casinos with Poker
- Casino Flamingo
Bolivia, a small mountainous country in South America, has legal gambling. In that regard, it’s “ahead” of some of its neighboring countries.
However, the situation for local gamblers is still less than optimal. Here’s a brief history.
Bolivia gained independence from the Spanish in the early 19th Century. In the new nation, gambling was completely legal and quite popular. That is until 1938 when the government at the time wanted to introduce social reforms, and thus imposed a gambling prohibition.
A ban like this on, like so many other times, didn’t really curb gambling, rather just pushed it underground. In the 1990’s, a new administration realized that and started issuing temporary casino licences in 1996. They also established a state-run national lottery which operates to this day.
In 2009, the Bolivian gambling industry got a big boost from an unexpected place, from many thousands of miles away – Russia. After the Russian government decided to confine gambling into just four “gambling zones” in the gigantic country, many casino operators were forced to close shop. Some of them migrated to Bolivia, where the local authorities were eager to have new foreign companies in the gaming sector.
So, why is the situation sub-optimal for gamblers in Bolivia?
For many casinos, the Bolivian journey didn’t work out at all. Bolivia is actually one of the poorest countries in its continent. As of the writing of this article, only one of them was able to stay in operation. So that leaves the locals with a few bingo halls scattered around the country, online poker rooms, and a single casino with a less than secure future.
Famous Bolivian Poker Players
Bolivia, despite having a population of over 10 million, does not have its own all-time money list on Hendon. Instead, for some odd reason, they list Bolivian players by the number of cashes they’ve had, not their live tournament earnings.
That list is topped by Jose Paz-Gutierrez with ITM finishes from 29 different tournaments, most of which are from WSOP events. He has cashed for $238,972 in live tournaments. His biggest score is from the 2009 WSOP Main Event. He came in 324th out of 6,494 players for $29,911.
Gustavo Robles Justiniano has cashed in 21 live tournaments for a combined
$62,772. In September 2017, he finished 7th in the BRL2,600 Main Event at the Brazilian Series of Poker for $20,436. That is the biggest single live tournament cash of his career to date.
As for online poker, a player from Chuquisaca, Bolivia who plays under the screen name “kill-falou88” on Winamax and “mez-go888” on PokerStars has amassed over $530K in online MTT cashes.
– Playing Live Poker in Bolivia –
Live Poker Legislation in Bolivia
As we wrote in our intro, the government started to issue – initially only temporary – gambling licences in 1996. In 2002, they decided to go for the permanent permits and establish a legal, regulated land based gambling scene. The Gaming Control Authority is in charge of casino licencing and regulation in Bolivia.
Live Poker Venues in Bolivia
While worldcasinodirectory.com lists 0 casinos in Bolivia, that is not actually the case. There is one gambling hall running in the country – however, it is very hard to find information about it.
The only Bolivian casino, Casino Flamingo in the city of Santa Cruz – bearing the same name but unrelated to the old legendary casino in Las Vegas run by mobster Bugsy Siegel – does not even have a website. We only know from 3rd party reviews that they do offer poker – although the details of those games are unknown. You can contact them by the phone number listed on Google.
– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Bolivia –
Online Poker in Bolivia
Online gambling has always been completely unregulated in the country of Bolivia. However, there is some chance this is about to change.
In June 2020, the executive director of Bolivia’s Gambling Control Authority (AJ) released a set of guidelines. In it, he outlined a plan to seize control of the unregulated online gaming sector. However, this is just a plan – also, there is another problem. Given the relatively small size of the Bolivian market, as well as the economic situation of the population, not many online gaming operators would be vying for a Bolivian licence.
So, as of now, Bolivian players can have their pick of the online poker rooms they want to play on. None of the major ones – such as Natural8, partypoker, or 888 – restrict them, nor does their government do anything to stop them from playing.