Guatemala Bookmakers

Guatemala, which is bordered by Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador, is not only famous for its history or beautiful scenery but also the confusing legal framework on gambling. This article goes further in exploring the specifics of the gambling laws, rules and the practice of sports betting in Guatemala concerning the Bookmakers. In this paper, the focus will be on the analysis of the current legal context related to Guatemala bookmakers and the prospects for the development of the sports betting business.

Guatemala Bookmakers

1880: Guatemala criminalizes gambling.

1924: First time of performing at the Olympic Games.

1950: Is going to host Central American games.

2011: According to the Draft Law 4294 there is a suggestion of a 3% gambling tax.

2012: Guatemala’s Erick Barrondo wins the country first Olympic medal.

History of Gambling Laws in Guatemala

The act of gambling was legalised in Guatemala in 1880, meaning that the country was one of the first in Central America to attempt to regulate games of chance. Below is a detailed timeline of significant gambling legislation in the country:

  • 1880: Gambling was banned under Section 477 of Decree Number 17-73 of the Penal Code; the offenders who engaged in running gambling houses would be punished with imprisonment of one to five years and a fine ranging from one thousand to ten thousand quetzals (about $1300).
  • 2005: Lottery was accepted and controlled, thus remaining the only allowed kind of gambling in the country.
  • 2011: A bill known as Draft Law No. 4294 was presented to the parliament that seeks to put a 3% taxation rate on all forms of gambling solution providers and also provide for the establishment of a body under the Ministry of Finance.
  • 2013: The bill number 4685 was proposed, which aimed at the creation of two authorities and the introduction of the 3% gambling tax. Nevertheless, this bill still has not been enacted.
  • 2014: Guatemala’s Congressional Economic Commission recommended the regulating of casinos, video lotteries, and bingo halls.

Status of the Gambling Legislation Today

This being a society that has had gambling outlawed for many years, the situation on the ground is a different story altogether. Gambling establishments and betting shops are located in large cities and no prosecution or prohibitions are inflicted to players. Here’s a breakdown of the current state of gambling laws:

Illegal yet Ubiquitous

  • Casinos: Although it is forbidden, numerous establishments provide casino games in conjunction with video lottery terminals (VLTs). In 2006 the government seized licenses and shut down a number of hotels due to the connection of money laundering with organized crime.
  • Sports Betting: Interestingly, although sports betting is prohibited, it is widespread to an extent. Also, it is better to stick to such famous worldwide or regional bookmakers as Betcris Guatemala rather than less popular brands.

Regulatory Agencies

There is no individual body that regulates gambling activities in Guatemala to the best of the authors’ knowledge. However, the following entities play roles in regulating and monitoring financial movements:

  • Administration of Special Verification (IVE): This body, under the supervision of the Bank Superintendence, deals with the surveillance of financial flows to counter money laundering.
  • Proposed Agencies: The 2013 draft law proposed creation of two regulating authorities; the National Gambling Commission and the Director of Gaming to issue and regulate licenses, compliance and AML measures respectively.

Licensing and Fees of Guatemala Bookmakers

To start gambling business and establish its facilities, one has to contact the Ministry of Interior (MINGOB). However, to this day, there is no information on how much it costs or what procedures one has to go through to get a license.

  • Lottery Licensing: This is supervised by Supreme Ventures Group which are the ones responsible for the management and dealing with the licensing of the lottery retailers.


Gambling taxation is not recognized in Guatemala at the moment. The 3 percent tax as suggested in the 2013 draft law has not been effected to date.

Sports Betting in Guatemala

This paper also discusses how despite the illegality of the activity, sports betting is quite common in Guatemala. Here’s how it unfolds:

Popular Sports for Betting

  • Football (Soccer): Football is the most famous sport for betting, and the local leagues as well as the international games receive a lot of viewership.
  • Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA): It is therefore important to know that in high stakes events there are usually people placing their bets.
  • Other Sports: Besides, football and tennis, basketball, baseball, and horse racing are also popular for betting.

Sporting Achievements in Guatemala

Sporting culture has always been developed in Guatemala, the country has been involved in many international games and have gifted athletes.

  • Olympic Participation: Guatemala has been participating in the Summer Olympic Games since the year 1952 but with some years of absence. It first appeared in the Winter Olympics held in the year 1988.
  • Central American and Caribbean Games: Guatemala has previously held Central American Games in the year 1950 and the Caribbean Games in the year 1924.
  • Notable Athletes:
  • Erick Barrondo: He is the first Guatemalan to win an Olympic medal having won a silver in the men’s 20km walk at the 2012 London Olympics.
  • Carlos “El Pescadito” Ruiz: He is considered the best football player in Guatemala’s football history, he has played in Europe and the United States and has won the MLS Cup.

Key Takeaways

  • Gambling is prohibited in Guatemala since the year 1880 and severe measures are taken against the operators.
  • However, casinos and betting shops are apparent, and no legal measures are taken against the people who engage in such activities.
  • The lottery is the only legal form of gambling which is regulated since 2005.
  • Several bills have been introduced on the regulation of gambling and taxing of the same but none of them has been approved.
  • Guatemala has also done well in the Olympics as well as other games and tournaments that are held internationally.


To sum up, despite the fact that Guatemala has not changed its approaches to the gambling legislation yet, the topic of legalization and regulation of the industry is being discussed constantly. It is crucial for the lovers of sports betting to be cautious on the current environments and select the right sites that will guarantee them the best time. Thus, the country progresses, and it could be that the approach to gambling can also change, opening up new horizons for the operators and the players.

FAQ about Guatemala Bookmakers

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