The sports commission in Chile’s Chamber of Deputies has voted to approve an amended bill that would ban all betting sponsorships and advertising after a one-year grace period for teams, leagues and offshore operators to unwind their existing partnerships.
In its original form, Bill no. 14892-29 would have banned advertising for online gambling operators at Chilean sports venues, among other limitations.
But after a discussion and vote on Tuesday (September 27), members of the sports commission in Congress’ lower house changed the text to instead make all advertising partnerships between sports entities and online betting operators illegal.
The bill, which was proposed by deputy Marco Antonio Sulantay in June, originally prohibited “the advertising and sponsorship of online bookmakers at face-to-face sporting events, broadcasting of sporting events via streaming, radio, and television, and on t-shirts and sports equipment”.
The new text now forbids any type of contract between online betting platforms and sports clubs, federations and organisations.
Violators of the ban would be fined between UTM150 and UTM2,000 ($9,200 and $122,250), with those amounts doubled for repeat violations. If the violation is committed by a professional sports organisation, then it would also be eliminated from its professional sports federation.
The amended text was approved by 11 votes to one. Deputy Guzmán was the lone holdout, arguing that the amendment was inadmissible as it went beyond the original purpose of the bill.
The bill, if it becomes law, would allow for 12 months from the date of final approval for clubs to terminate their contracts with gambling operators, at which point those contracts would become void.
Fifteen of the 16 teams in Chile’s top football league have at least one sponsor that is an online gaming operator. Betway alone has deals with five first league teams.
The bill would allow for advertising by licensed gambling operators in Chile, specifying that they can advertise on TV between 10pm and 6am and on the radio between 8pm and 6am if a warning accompanies the ad.
Carlos Baeza, a lawyer in Chile for various operators including Betsson, Coolbet, Betano and Latamwin, remains optimistic that this bill, in its current form, will not become law.
Even if it is approved by the full Chamber of Deputies, which is the bill's next step, “it has to pass to the Senate where there is no sports commission and this bill will be handled by the Economic Commission of the Senate, where it is very likely that it will be analysed together with the regulation bill”, Baeza said, referring to a separate piece of legislation to regulate online casino games and sports betting in Chile that was introduced earlier this year.
“If so, and due to the regulation bill having rules about publicity, it will be difficult to approve a total prohibition of advertising. We will see in the following months,” Baeza said.
When the bill to limit betting sponsorships was first proposed, sports commission member and supporter Marisela Santibáñez said: “Football gives so much economically, so much money is generated by this sport that to see it getting darker than it already is, because of a brand, a sponsor, really saddens me.”