(Inside Costa Rica) - The Arias government has issued an executive order that allows casinos to operate on a 24 hour basis, at least until May 1, to avoid the possible layoff of some 2.000 or more casino employees.
The current order overrides another one issued last June that would have limited casino operating to only 8 hours daily, between 6pm and 2am, which should have been in effect last December 27.
The shortened hours never went into effect after representatives of the Casino Association objected to the short hours, asking that casinos be allowed to operate at least 16 hours daily or some 2.000 employees would have to be cut.
The government agreed to the extended hours, for now.
Minister of Tourism, Carlos Ricardo Benavides, who has carried the baton on the issue of decrees related to casinos, said the final hours of operation will be determined by a study of the ministry of labour.
Benavides denied that the work day will be 24 hours, but rather range between 8 and 16 hours.
There are 408 registered casinos in Costa Rica, most working 16 hours, while several like the Horseshoe in San Jose operates on a 24 hour basis.
Benavides pointed out that, other than the hours of operation, the regulations emitted in the June 2008 executive order are still in place, like the regulation that casinos operating in a hotel must belong to the same corporation that owns the hotel property and that gaming addiction is a public health problem.
Hotels that operate casinos that do not comply with the June 2008 order can lose their "tourism" declaration, said Benavides.