The Sports and Economic Commissions of the chamber of deputies both criticised the sponsorship of football clubs by online betting operators last week, lobbying for immediate tax reforms and repercussions.
On Tuesday (August 2), during a hearing in the Economic Commission that resulted in the delay of the general bill to legalise online gambling and sports betting by 30 days, the sponsorship of the Colo Colo football team was raised.
This year, betting operator Betsson became one of its sponsors, with its logo appearing on the sleeve of the Colo Colo jersey. In addition, Betsson is the digital betting partner of the Chilean national football team and sponsored Copa América 2021.
Deputy Alejandro Bernales Maldonado said the sponsorship raised questions of tax revenue potentially owed to the Chilean state on betting activity he says is conducted in the country.
“Thinking about the issue of tax collection in [online gambling] … this betting house that in addition is financing several soccer clubs, therefore it generates resources and they generate them here [in Chile]," he said.
"This is a very clear example and effectively, if they are in that position, they have to pay the corresponding taxes, and so with that viewpoint this project will be very quick in this commission."
That same day, during a session of the Sports Commission, Hernan Frigolett, the director of the Internal Revenue Service (SII) also asked for more controls on football sponsorship.
“We have had cases in Europe in which betting cases have affected sports results and that is the core risk factor,” he said.
“The control process will have to be broader. These resources will have to be reported by the clubs, because they affect their assets. They are receiving resources that are going to finance part of their professional activity. We have to see if they are effectively declaring or not declaring them."
Frigolett was referring to a bill that aims to stop advertising of any betting in football clubs and stadiums, including on any of the media that they own, such as radio or television.
A debate on that bill is expected on Tuesday (August 9). If approved, it will progress to the Chamber of Deputies.
The bill presents a legal conundrum to 11 of the 16 football clubs in the main Chilean league who are sponsored by betting operators, and have years-long contracts with them that include advertising.
Despite this, the mood in the commissions was that of a strict crackdown.
Deputy Marisela Santibáñez said: “There are clubs that have contracts for two years with an illegality. Soccer 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.”