The Supreme Court of Chile has ordered a leading internet service provider (ISP) to block a total of 23 online betting platforms that judges agreed were offering illegal activity in the country.
The ruling was in favour of public lottery operator Polla Chilena de Beneficencia, which brought the case against leading telecommunications provider Mundo Pacífico.
“The respondent cannot transmit or promote games of chance, unless it certifies legal authorization and authorization from the administrative authority, and must therefore immediately block all the websites requested by the appellant in these proceedings,” the Supreme Court’s Third Chamber wrote in its ruling.
The court's ruling cited URLs belonging to operators including Betsson, Betwarrior, Betano, Coolbet, Betcris, Rivalo, BetCris and 1xBet.
Polla Chilena has waged war over the past year with offshore-based online operators, which it claims are acting in contravention of Chilean laws.
Last year, an appeal to the Supreme Court requesting that six different telecomms providers block the same 23 sites was denied. Of the six, only two replied, saying that they could not acquiesce given the principle of net neutrality.
At that time, the court called it the purview of Chile's Casino Gaming Superintendence (SCJ) and ordered the relevant documents be sent there and to the Chilean Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications.
The court, in its ruling this week, said that the activities of online operators were carried out “illegally”, a crucial distinction that Polla Chilena and casinos have been at loggerheads with online operators over.
The lawyers for online operators have long maintained that operating offshore is not illegal, but unregulated. Polla Chilena and land-based casinos have launched multiple court offences to have it deemed otherwise.
This ruling comes at a time of gathering momentum for legislation to regulate online gambling in Chile.
A bill to establish a licensing regime for local and international operators was this year approved in principle by the Economy Commission in Chile's Chamber of Deputies, with members holding a series of meetings in recent weeks to agree on a final version of the text.
On Tuesday (September 12), the same day the ruling was issued, the commission privately continued voting on all pending regulations of the first article of the bill and all articles addressing how operators would be expected to transition from a grey to a regulated market.
Current articles on the table would allow the SCJ to dictate the application process for foreign operators. According to submitted documents, a “transitional period is expected to last approximately 12 months (six months to issue the regulation, followed by application, background review, licensing and certification)”.
Legal representatives of Chilean-facing operators did not immediately return a request for comment on the ruling.