Costa Rican Sportsbooks Respond to Recent Arrests

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By Chrissie Long, Tico Times Staff

Though 36 arrests on United States soil this week rattled the online gaming industry, operations are continuing as normal in Costa Rica.

"We haven't received any reports from businesses that have taken immediate decisions about their operations in this country," EmpleadosApuestasCR (Organization of Costa Rican Wager Employees) said in a press statement. "On the contrary, businesses are continuing as normal."

On Wednesday, the Queens District Attorney's Office announced indictments of 38 individuals in the gaming industry. All but one of those indicted have addresses in the United States, but most conducted their operations through Costa Rican-based call centers. According to the statement, the individuals were arrested for their involvement in sports betting activity, which is considered "highly illegal" in some parts of the United States.

The organization EmpleadosApuestasCR is using the recent incident as a call to action for the Costa Rican government to introduce and approve legislation recognizing the sports wagering industry.

"It's precisely for (situations) like this that there is a movement to look for and support a fair and realistic regulation so such operations can continue in this country," the organization said.

EmpleadosApuestasCR also pointed to a ruling by the World Trade Organization, which they said frees the industry outside the United States from the restrictions placed on it in that country.

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