Chile's Economy Commission Begins Online Gambling Bill Discussions

January 9, 2023
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Chile’s bill to legalise online gambling took a step forward last week as the Chamber of Deputies' Economy Commission began to evaluate the project.

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Chile’s bill to legalise online gambling took a step forward last week as the Chamber of Deputies’ Economy Commission began to evaluate the project.

First filed in March 2022, the bill had sat dormant in the Economy Commission since then, despite mounting pressure from lawsuits, land-based casinos and attempts to ban sports-betting sponsorships.

But after a vote of no confidence in the former Economy Commission president Daniel Manouchehri Lobos, who was accused of tabling bills he had no interest in, and the election of new president Miguel Mellado, the draft law is once again underway.

At the beginning of this year, the commission has heard from Carlos Silva Alliende, the corporate attorney for Dreams Casinos Group, along with Rodrigo Guiñez, the manager of the Games Casinos Association.

In his presentation to the commission, Silva expressed frustration with the current state of the bill and reiterated that despite a fully functioning grey market, his reading of the law is that online gambling is illegal. He argued that the wording in the bill itself proved this point.

Ex-committee boss Manouchehri immediately followed this presentation with his own comments expressing his view that the bill is a mistake with “fundamental shortcomings”, a perhaps unsurprising opinion from the deputy who kept the bill from advancing by refusing to address it.

“We talk about gambling as an extremely complicated situation,” Manouchehri told the commission. “In fact, there is a disease that is associated with gambling and found in gambling that is quite widespread in our country. When we have that situation, to encourage, in quotation marks, the legalisation of gambling, because in my opinion what this bill does is more than a regulation, it is a legalisation from the point of view of online gambling.”

Silva, on the other hand, was more concerned with the amount of time it would take to enact any gambling legislation.

“We believe that this gambling law, this bill, does not work because it does not collect taxes before the year 2024,” testified Silva, referring to the period it will take to regulate and launch legal online gambling.

He went on to advocate for creating a “short law” to cover the timeframe between now and however long it takes to launch a legal online gaming industry.

“In the meantime, what happens is there is still illegal gambling [and] they continue taking resources from Chile and no taxes are paid. For a market to be competitive and efficient, you have to destroy those who operate illegally and also those who operate illegally tomorrow,” he said.

Silva listed concerns including money laundering and the protection of private information online.

Debates will continue this month with further input from Polla Chilena, the Superintendency of Casinos, operators and Chile’s Olympic Committee.

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