Nicaragua is home to nearly 50 land-based casinos and may eventually become a haven for online betting sites. Laws passed in recent years have opened the entire gambling industry to legalization, licensing and regulation. Anyone interested in opening a casino in Nicaragua may now refer to a clearly-defined set of licensing and operating standards.
Gamblers in the country have the freedom to play wherever they want. This includes both online and brick-and-mortar casinos. There are no laws against participating in any form of gambling provided the players are at least 18 years of age. The current situation in Nicaragua is in stark contrast to the Sandinista years in which all gambling was outlawed.
Overall, Nicaragua can be considered a gambling-friendly nation. Despite a shaky infrastructure and widespread poverty, Nicaragua is mostly free from the high levels of crime that affect some of its neighbors in Central America. The country isn’t quite ready to become a major destination for casino investments, but it’s definitely heading the right direction.
Best Nicaraguan Betting Sites
Currently, the best Nicaraguan betting sites are still located in other countries. Nicaragua may one day be home to licensed gaming sites, but the laws need further clarification before we see significant numbers of local online operators. In the meantime, the best places to play real money games are those that have licenses to operate over the internet in other countries.
I mostly like to stick with sites regulated in the UK, Gibraltar and Isle of Man. Each of those countries has a strict licensing system designed specifically for online casinos. The brands that operate under those licensing jurisdictions are subject to intense scrutiny and held to high standards.
The Nicaraguan government makes no effort to prohibit or block access to foreign websites, so you have a wide variety of choices from around the world. The quality of sites varies greatly and that’s why I recommend you stick with sites licensed by demanding regulators in countries such as the United Kingdom.
This page only recommends gaming websites that are 100% translated into Spanish. In most cases, the website will automatically serve you the Spanish translation once it detects that you’re visiting from a Spanish-speaking country.
If you visit a site and it’s all in English, look for a little flag icon near the top of the page, click on that and then click on the flag of any Spanish-speaking nation to convert the entire page into the appropriate language. Each of these sites also hires Spanish speaking customer support people who are fully fluent.
Córdoba Deposits and Withdrawals
The Nicaraguan córdoba is not supported by default at any major gaming site. This leaves you with two options. One is to convert your money to US dollars at your local bank before making a deposit to your gambling site.
The other option is to use an e-wallet service to make your deposit. Most gaming sites work with a few major e-wallet companies to help players fund their accounts. You can use any of those to make a deposit to the e-wallet in córdobas and then let the e-wallet convert your balance into USD before completing the deposit to your betting site.
Skrill is going to be your best bet if you have a bank account. The company accepts residents of Nicaragua and can handle transactions in córdobas. The exchange fee ranges from 2.99% to 4.99%.
If you don’t have a bank account or would prefer to use cash, you can use a cash transfer at some sites. Money transfer agencies such as Western Union and MoneyGram are used extensively throughout Central America. Many betting sites accept these as a deposit method.
Is it Legal to Bet Online In Nicaragua?
Yes. Nicaragua takes a relaxed approach towards gambling. The country has slowly eased its restrictions on gambling over the past two decades. Today, all forms of gambling are completely legal in Nicaragua. No laws or criminal codes prohibit any form of gambling for citizens.
The gaming laws of the country focus mostly on providers in the industry – those who own and operate casinos. Individuals have little to worry about as long as you’re at least 18 years old. Actually, it’s unlikely you would get in trouble for gambling online even if you were underage. The problem, however, is that casino sites themselves impose age limits and are likely refuse to pay out winnings to underage gamblers. And yes, they do check. Wait until you’re 18.
Gambling Laws in Nicaragua
The oldest modern-era gambling laws in Nicaragua date back to 1996 when the national lottery was established. This came after years of Sandinista rule under which all forms of gambling were prohibited. The lottery operates to this day and is in the process of being updated to sell tickets online. A Canadian company is responsible for the management of the lottery and was granted a 15-year exclusive product rights contract in 2010.
Interestingly, the return of Daniel Ortega has not resulted in a return to a prohibition of gambling. In fact, it was under his government that major legislation was passed to regulate and license casinos in Nicaragua. The legislation, titled “Special Law 766, for the Control and Regulation of Casinos and Gambling Venues,” was passed in 2010.
Law 766 laid forth the foundation by which the entire land-based gambling industry in Nicaragua is managed. It set forth licensing standards, expectations of operators and a whole list of rules and regulations. Implementation of the law was designated to the Nicaraguan Tourism Institute (website).
Under the law, casinos must pay a $2,000 licensing fee and prove the ability to invest certain amounts of money depending on the size of the intended casino. Additionally, each slot machine in a casino must pay a tax of $25 to $50 per month while all table games must pay a tax of $400 per month. Apart from that, casinos in Nicaragua are subject to low taxes.
Online gambling is not mentioned anywhere in Nicaraguan law so it is assumed to be legal for the players. However, there is no licensing mechanism for operators. Some legal scholars believe existing brick-and-mortar casinos have the authority to spread their games over the internet while others are not so sure. It may be a while before we see actual Nicaragua betting sites come online, but we are cautiously optimistic. We’re still waiting to see how it all plays out.