The province of Córdoba in Argentina announced on Friday (May 20) that it will open a tender process this month to grant up to ten licences to online gambling operators.
The move comes after the ratification in December of Law 10.973, which legalised online gambling in Argentina’s second most populous province.
According to a notice published in the province’s official bulletin on Friday and on the Córdoba Lottery’s website, interested parties must submit their bids between May 23 and July 5. The licences will last for 15 years once granted.
Applicants will initially be vetted on their legal and technical qualifications and financial capacity.
In a second round, applicants would then be competitively scored based on the quality of their business and marketing plans.
Evaluation criteria will include the number of international licences possessed by the applicant, its experience in the global online gaming market and land-based market in Argentina, revenues and profitability, breadth of product offering for sports betting and online gaming, and responsible gaming and anti-money laundering plans.
Like the province of Buenos Aires, international bidders must be partnered with a local business to be eligible and an Argentine company must hold a minimum 15 percent stake in the venture.
Online gambling operators will be subject to a 10 percent tax on gross revenue, according to tender documents.
“We are formalising a situation that has been developing in Córdoba illegally, to which we are giving a framework of legality and protection for all players,” said José Alonso, deputy manager of the legal department of the Córdoba Lottery.
Not everyone is happy with the news of the decree, however.
The province’s addictions commission has met twice since April to work to prevent online gambling in Córdoba with the support of the Catholic political bloc.
Meanwhile, officials in the province’s autonomous capital city are attempting to pass a municipal law to prevent online gambling from being available in the city, which has no land-based casinos.
Córdoba City Councilman Juan Pablo Quinteros tweeted on Monday: “The city of Córdoba has been saying no to gambling for two decades. Efforts should be focused on preventing online gambling from entering every home without restrictions of the people of Córdoba. More gambling is more poverty.”
Quinteros’ opposition is a reflection of the complicated road to legalise online gaming in the province. This includes a scandal in December within Argentina's PRO party, led by former President Mauricio Macri, over the law before it was passed that led to the eventual resignation of one Córdoba senator who supported the legislation.
Although those who oppose online gaming cite concerns of gambling addiction in their arguments, Law 10.973 includes various provisions to protect those deemed to be at risk.
Among other things, players receiving social assistance financed from the national, provincial or municipal government are not allowed to gamble with money from their social assistance accounts. Warning messages must also be displayed to alert a player when they have been online for three hours and then every hour after that. Operators also must offer features enabling players to set deposit limits.
According to the set timeline outlined by the lottery, licences are expected to be granted on September 14. That will follow the opening of initial applications on July 5 and the second round of offers from qualified applicants on July 19.
Additional reporting by James Kilsby.