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June 9th, 2008
I always try to remember that I am just a guest here in Costa Rica. That even though I am a Permanent Resident with all the rights of a citizen, sans voting, I do not have the right to tell Costa Rica how to run their country. This is often very hard to do, especially if the actions or laws affect those of us living here.
Most foreigners living here feel they do have that right. Perhaps they do. Certainly, it is hard to not form opinions and even harder to keep those opinions to yourself. However, I have yet to hear of a case where a North American was asked his opinion on an issue by anyone in the government.
Saying that, there are times when the government does something that to me just makes no sense whatsoever. A few weeks ago, the government announced a new policy that for the life of me I did not understand and still do not understand.
The announcement I am referring to involved a edict telling casino operators that henceforth they would be limited to allowing casino gambling only from the hours or 6 PM to 2 AM. Further, casinos must be part of, meaning inside, the hotel. Costa Rica’s casinos are for the most part inside the hotels, but a few, like the large Fiesta Casino near the San Jose airport, are not attached to any hotel, though it is across the street from the Garden Court. Other rules included no direct access from the street, and rules about alcohol being served.
I thought immediately of the huge sums of money that these companies had invested in building the casinos. Really, invested in Costa Rica. I thought of the tourists that would be affected. I thought of the thousands of Ticos employed by the casinos. Basically I just asked myself why would they do such a thing? Tourism is the cash cow of Costa Rica. Why do anything to screw that up? Why take the chance of losing just one tourist?
I read a statement by someone in the tourism bureau that visitors to Costa Rica do not come here for the gambling and I thought “This guy is making decisions that affect thousands of jobs and a ton of tourists, yet has not a clue as to what he is talking about!
While technically he is right and gambling may not be the prime reason for choosing Costa Rica as a vacation spot, I know that when most people make their vacation plans, they take into consideration things to do as a family, things their kids can do, and things they can do as adults, especially if there are no kids on the trip. When I do play at the Fiesta, Del Rey, Cariari (now Doubletree) and others, those are not Ticos I am sitting next to! Most are foreigners and they are tourists. Lots of people, especially from the US do look to see if gambling is available probably because so many states prohibit it and vacation is a great time for some harmless sinning!
Why is it so hard for Ticos to realize that tourism is a business, and if they want their share of those vacation dollars, they sure better offer services at least equal to all the other Caribbean vacation spots. They should be thinking of offering more services, not less.
If that is not enough, the cutback in hours and the closing entirely of some casinos would mean the loss of 3,000 jobs. 3,000 jobs would be a big deal in the US with what, close to 300 million people? The population of Costa Rica is under 5 million. 3,000 jobs. Incredible. For what?
I like to play Blackjack, or as that is not really available here, the Costa Rican version called Rummy. I play maybe every two months or so, so I am far from being a regular client. Still, it means I could now go only at night, and as that is the time I spend with my wife, I can not go when I want and now, maybe not at all. I felt really irritated.
I waited all this time to blog about this as I wanted to see if this would be read into the legal newspaper which is the final step in activation of any new law in Costa Rica. It was. I thought to myself that certainly someone would come to their senses and stop this silliness. They didn’t. It is now law. One newspaper on May 9 informed the readers that this law was now being enforced.
So this week, when I had an opportunity to meet with a client in the Del Rey Hotel (at 11:00 AM), I was surprised to see the casino operating all tables! Hmmm! How could this be? A quick stop at the Fiesta showed me that they too were open in the afternoon. Huh? What happened to the new law? Were the jobs lost? What happened to the law? Shrug.
Odd huh? Makes me wonder why I wrote this post.
Life in the tropics.
Costa Rica! No Artificial Ingredients! A types need not apply.
Filed under Costa Rica, Costa Rica Law, Costa Rica Tourism, Gambling, Hmmm!, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica, Tourism, Travel, Travel to Costa Rica | Comments (5)