Argentina's Santa Fe Province Rushes To Regulate Online Gambling

December 4, 2023
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Santa Fe is the latest province to move towards online gambling regulation, making it the last of Argentina's most populous provinces to establish a licensing framework, as it joins the ranks of Buenos Aires City and Province, Mendoza and Córdoba. 
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Santa Fe is the latest province to move towards online gambling regulation, making it the last of Argentina's most populous provinces to establish a licensing framework, as it joins the ranks of Buenos Aires City and Province, Mendoza and Córdoba. 

On November 30, the province’s Chamber of Deputies approved Bill 52.665, which was introduced by Deputy Marcelo González that same week. To become law, the measure now must be approved by the province's Senate.

Online gaming in Santa Fe has been partially legal via hurried pandemic measures introduced in 2020, when the government of outgoing Governor Omar Perotti worried that shuttered casinos would lead to illegal gaming and loss of revenue. 

The province's three casinos were all granted permission by decree to offer the same games online as they do in their brick-and-mortar properties, through an arrangement that continues to this day, even though players have long since returned to casinos.

According to the text of the new bill, the tax on gross online gaming revenue will be 15 percent, a rise from the current 10 percent for the three current casinos. Fifty percent of the revenue will go towards gambling addiction awareness and prevention. 

The bill also includes sports betting within its remit, which is not part of the current casinos’ concessions. It is a pragmatic move for the province that is the homeland of arguably the world’s most famous sports star, Lionel Messi, with legal sports betting also spreading quickly in other parts of Argentina. 

The three casinos — operated by Argentina companies Boldt and Invergaming, as well as Spain's Cirsa — will have the option to continue with their current online casino offering or go through the full licensing process via an international tender process.

The bill states that “the current licences of the current casino concessionaires are extended to the online modality but only in relation to the games already authorised in physical rooms, for a period coinciding with the current concession. That is, when the physical casino concession expires, the same will happen with the virtual licence.”

The hurried legislative process comes as Santa Fe prepares for a change of government, with Perroti set to leave office on December 10 and conservative Maximiliano Pullaro due to take over the following day.

Santa Fe is Argentina's third most populous province, after Buenos Aires and Córdoba.

The former and its namesake capital city both launched online gambling in late 2021, with Córdoba following suit last month after a licensing process that saw half of the eight pre-licensed operators drop out of the process due to high taxes and a FIFA World Cup that came and went.

Additional reporting by James Kilsby.

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