Online casinos are legal in most parts of South America. Though that is the case in the general sense, the continent is a patchwork of jurisdictions, so gamblers face a complicated legal situation when wanting to gamble online in South America. Twelve sovereign states and two non-sovereign areas exert legal authority over stretches of the continent.
The sovereign nations which have their own distinct gambling laws are: Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname. Also, French Guiana is an overseas department of France, while the Falkland Islands (also known as “Malvinas”) is a British Overseas Territory. On this page, I’ll discuss the states with the most regulations, then provide gaming information for the remainder of the South American gaming jurisdictions.
Argentina has the most active native-based online casinos, with 80 sites operating from Argentina at last count. The first of these sites was launched in 2006. The government allows online casino betting and even sportsbooks, but it tends to block foreign websites. Mobile and online bingo is illegal.
Online casinos are legal in Chile. In fact, the foreign gaming sites are not blocked, so it is far more welcoming to international competition than Argentina.
Brazil bans most forms of online gambling, except for betting on bingo games, lottery tickets and scratchoffs, and horse racing. Though a technical ban is in effect, the Brazilian government takes few steps to block international sites and it does little to stop local players from using them.
Venezuela has an anti-gambling laws on the books, but like Brazil, its government does little to enforce the ban. Most of the casinos operating in Venezuela are hosted in English-speaking countries and other overseas locations. These offshore operations are played by the locals, at least when they support the Spanish language.
Ecuador is said to have an “open policy” towards the online gambling industry. The sites active in the country are the offshore operations. Ecuador does not license or regulate local operators, so everything (legal) is handled by foreign companies.
Peru’s government started licensing online casinos in 2008. Locally-hosted gaming sites do exist. As for the foreign operators, wagering online is considered illegal. Despite this, the practice is common.
Online Casinos Active in South America
To provide an idea of how active the South American gaming market is, I wanted to provide a statistical breakdown by country of the number of online casinos which accept play from each market. Readers should not assume from these numbers that it is legal to bet online in these markets. Many offshore online casino operators take the chance local authorities cannot prosecute them for accepting play from a country, so gamblers need to confirm their activities are legal in those areas before gambling there. I have provided the number of casinos accepting play for the official language in each country. Since readers of this page are reading in the English language, I also include the number of sites which support the English language.
- Venezuela – 341 Spanish – 898 English
- Colombia – 339 Espanol – 874 Ingles
- Ecuador – 341 Spanish – 878 English
- Peru – 338 Spanish – 876 English
- Chile – 342 Espanol – 897 Ingles
- Argentina – 337 Spanish – 895 English
- Falkland Islands – 341 Spanish – 872 English
- Uruguay – 337 Espanol – 893 Ingles
- Paraguay – 341 Spanish – 876 English
- Bolivia – 339 Espanol – 871 Ingles
- Brazil – 216 Portuguese – 873 English
- French Guiana – 302 French – 773 Anglais
- Suriname – 181 Dutch – 885 Engels
- Guyana – 862 English (official)
As one can see, the number of English-language sites active in the South American market is huge. Tourists and visitors from the UK and USA should have no problem finding sites which accept play from the continent. In most cases, their normal casino choices are going to be active in those locations.
In researching the South American online gambling industry, I have noticed that French Guiana is often on the list of restricted countries. Players in French Guiana might have trouble finding sites which accept their play for real money. Those gamblers also should know they might be breaking local laws by gambling online, so they need to know their laws. Remember that French Guiana is influenced by the laws and customs of France, a nation which has an ambivalent attitude towards gambling in general.
For those who count Caribbean nations as closely related to the South American continent, note that Cuba, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Antigua and Barbuda are restricted in the online casino market, too. Of course, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are restricted, but these islands have political ties to the United States.
Online casinos operating in South America support the standard credit card and debit card companies like Visa and MasterCard, along with widespread electronic payment services like Neteller and Skrill. Alongside those deposit and withdrawal methods, most countries have their own native payment methods. Below are some of those payment options.