The economy commission in Chile’s Chamber of Deputies has approved legislative provisions that would prevent grey-market operators from applying for an online licence for 12 months.
However, members will vote next week on a transition article that will allow operators to be licensed without waiting.
The commission passed Article 13 of an online gambling bill that allows the Casino Gaming Superintendence (SCJ) to reject applications from companies that have operated in Chile or other countries without a licence.
The article precludes licensing any company for “having operated a betting platform without the proper operating license ... or having advertised or offered its services in Chile in the last 12 months prior to the application.”
The Ministry of Finance hailed the commission’s approval of the provision, but its celebrations may be premature because the economy commission will vote next week on a transitional period for licensing online betting and casino games.
According to that article, companies operating in Chile within the last 12 months and prior to the enforcement of regulation will be subject to additional licensing requirements.
First, an operator would need to provide a guarantee of $350,000 and pay the annual license fee of $70,000. In addition, the operator must pay a retroactive tax of 31 percent of gross gambling revenue for the past 36 months, plus $7 for every account that was opened.
“We are still waiting to see what will be approved by the commission next Tuesday [October 3],” said Carlos Baeza, a lawyer who works with locally popular operators including Coolbet, LatamWin and Betsson.
Article 13 will go into force even if the transition article is not approved.
To become law, however, the online gambling bill that was introduced by the government last year must also be approved by the full Chamber of Deputies as well as the Senate.
Undersecretary of Finance Heidi Berner said after this week's meeting of the economy commission that the government is keen to implement a robust legal framework for online gambling.
“Although we agree with the ruling [of the Supreme Court], a law must be generated that allows us to more adequately regulate this activity, as does Article 13 that has just been completed,” she said.
Berner was referring to a September 13 ruling that ordered telecommunications provider Mundo Pacífico to block 23 websites of 12 unlicensed online gambling operators, on the grounds that their activities were illegal.
Other major internet service providers have said they will comply with the ruling.
During the economy commission session, deputy Daniel Manouchehri Lobos frowned on the number of cooks in the kitchen of national online gambling policy.
Lobos asked for a formal letter to be sent by the commission to national telecommunications regulator Subtel “to inform this committee as to which sites are being blocked and at the same time to request what procedures they are adopting, both for the cases that have been denounced before the courts and for all cases of online gambling in general.”
“It would seem to us that it would be important to know how Subtel is enforcing the law,” he said.