Chile’s bill to ban online betting operators from partnering with sports teams has passed the Chamber of Deputies, and now awaits its fate in the Senate.
A final version of Bill 14892-29 passed through the Chamber of Deputies last week (April 19) with 107 deputies voting in favour, 15 against and 16 choosing to abstain.
The bill, which was already approved in principle last November, prohibits any kind of contract between sports entities and online betting operations. That includes clubs, federations, professional sports funds, concessionaires and “related institutions”.
A violation would result in a fine ranging from 150 to 2,000 Chilean monthly tax units. For the month of May, a tax unit was equal to 63,074 Chilean pesos (approx. $77.27), meaning that the fines would range from around US$11,590 to US$154,540. The fines will be doubled for repeat offenders.
Violations would also mean a possible elimination from the registry of professional sports organisations.
Notably, the law does not ban or restrict advertising as a whole, but only as it relates to sports organisations and sporting events.
“In other words, it will be possible to advertise on television, it will be possible to advertise on public roads, it will be possible to advertise in newspapers, it will be possible to [do] all kinds of advertising,” said Carlos Baeza, a Chilean-based lawyer who represents international operators such as Coolbet, Latamwin, Betsson, and others.
“They only propose the prohibition of advertising in sporting events,” Baeza said. “It is very difficult to know how this is going to be definitively solved, but it is certain that there will be restrictions on the use of advertising in sporting events.”
The current draft of the bill forbids advertising on sports uniforms and equipment, in sports facilities and during the broadcast of events.
Legally authorised betting platforms may still advertise on television, between 10pm and 6am and on the radio between 8pm and 6am. Sports-betting platforms may also advertise with special prior permission from the Ministry of Sports during international sporting events.
According to Baeza, there are two interpretations of the lower house vote last week to approve the bill and send it to Chile's Senate.
“The first reading is that, effectively, the majority of the members of the House of Justice are in favour of banning advertising in sports.
“Now, the first reading of the vote is that everybody is for banning advertising. But there's a second look at that, that actually, that's more like everybody is for regulation. That's a little bit more generous, but it might well be.”
As the advertising bill makes its way to the Senate, a separate pending bill to regulate online betting and internet gaming continues to be debated and workshopped in the Chamber of Deputies' Economy Commission.
According to Baeza, it is likely that the advertising bill will sit in the Senate for some time and “it is most likely that this process will meet at some point with the processing of the regulation project”.
Separate efforts to fully regulate the online gambling sector have been making slow, but steady progress through the Chilean political system.
“Now, it is reasonable to think that this will be regulated in a single law, not in two laws,” said Baeza.
According to the text of the advertising bill as it stands, should the bill become law, existing sponsorship contracts will become null and void after 12 months for men’s teams, and 36 months for women’s teams.