More casinos are beginning to open in Venezuela, two years after the country reversed a ban on them. These gambling facilities are setting the stage for further cryptocurrency integration into mainstream finance, now accepting Bitcoin and others.
Not long ago, gambling was illegal in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez, the country’s former dictator who died in 2013, once stated that “being rich was bad.” He banned casinos because, in his words, they caused “social degeneration.”
Those days are gone. Even as the percentage of people living in poverty has risen from less than 10% to over 75% in the past decade, President Nicolas Maduro embraced casinos.
However, they could only accept Petro, the state-created cryptocurrency that failed miserably. That’s changing, and Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies are coming to Venezuelan casinos.
Crypto Casinos Arrive in Venezuela
Late last year, Ciudad Jardín announced that it would accept the use of cryptocurrencies such as BTC, Ether, Tether and even crypto game tokens. The casino, at the Pipo Internacional Hotel in Maracay, is one of 30 Venezuelan casinos that received a license as part of the measure by the government of Maduro. His mandate allowed gaming establishments to open their doors in 12 states of the country.
Last Friday, the Las Vegas casino began accepting crypto as a form of payment. This comes through an agreement between the casino, the CoinCoinX cryptocurrency exchange and the Dash cryptocurrency.
This initiative aims to attract national and international tourists. People visiting the Las Vegas casino, located in the tourist area of Isla Margarita, in the Venezuelan state of Nueva Esparta, will be able to use the Dash cryptocurrency for balance top-up and chip purchases.
Last year, Maduro reversed his predecessor’s decree and gave the green light to gambling in the country. Subsequently, he gave the thumbs-up to the activity of 30 casinos.
His directive allowed for casinos in Caracas, Miranda, Nueva Esparta, Aragua, Lara, Zulia, Falcón and Bolívar, among others. The first casino in the Venezuelan capital after the reactivation opened last September.
Reinventing the Country
With so many living in poverty, it isn’t easy to find domestic traffic. However, the Venezuelan economy is changing. This is due, in part, to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
The Venezuelan regime gained station on the international stage because of the invasion. It managed to get the US and Europe to recognize it. In addition, these are now relaxing the sanctions they imposed on the regime for violating the human and political rights of Venezuelans.
The Biden administration has authorized Chevron, Repsol and Eni to produce and export Venezuelan crude and gas. This new perspective on the local oil industry has made foreign investors begin to visit the country in search of short-term opportunities.
The scarcity and rising prices of raw materials on international markets due to the war in Ukraine, have put the regime in a more comfortable financial position. Now, with Iran’s support, Venezuela is trying to raise its fuel production at several refineries in the center of the country.
In addition, the government is pulling everything it can out of its people. Earlier this year, it began to eliminate subsidies to public services, including water and electricity. Monthly rates are rising, and analysts expect that, by the end of the year, they will already be at international levels.
To force Venezuelans to pay in bolivars and not in foreign currency, the government imposed a 3% tax on large foreign exchange transactions. Some studies indicate that this change is worth $3 trillion to the Venezuelan government.
As a result, maybe the bus driver-turned-president of a nation can turn things around. In the meantime, the casinos will continue to flourish, likely relying heavily on international tourism to fuel their growth.
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