Welcome to Costa Rica

OMG! And here I thought that Canada was the most backwards country in the world when it comes to it’s gambling laws!

Although this appeared in the 2001/12/12 edition of A.M. Costa Rica, I only became aware of it today by chance while Googling something else.

Municipal lawyer contends board game illegal in public

Playing backgammon on the streets of San José is illegal unless the players have a permit, according to a lawyer for the municipality.

The lawyer is Rosa Lía Cuberro Pérez. She was responding to an incident Saturday in which two municipal policemen told two French tourist to stop playing while they were seated on public benches in front of the Teatro Nacional in downtown San José.

The lawyer is a member of the legal department of the municipality. She responded in person early Tuesday. Later, when contacted by telephone and politely asked if chess and other board games also were illegal, she hung up the telephone.

Another lawyer consulted by A.M. Costa Rica contradicted the lawyer for San José and said he had no information that would suggest that playing board games in public is illegal.

The issue came up because the two municipal policeman on patrol Saturday about 2 p.m. in front of the Teatro Nacional cracked down on the tourists, a man and a women, who had dined at the nearby Gran Hotel Costa Rica restaurant and were quietly playing the board game.

The two tourists were mystified at the time. Then the policemen threatened to take the video camera of a tourist from Florida who was seated nearby. They may have thought he had filmed their encounter with the French couple, although he later said he had filmed nothing.

The policemen claimed that the tourist had shown a lack of respect for filming them without their consent. The municipal policemen wear gray uniforms and are not to be confused with the Fuerza Publica, whose members wear blue.

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