As discussions continue on plans to license online gambling in the country, Chile’s internet regulator has said it is ready to block offshore gambling operators, so long as its sister gambling watchdog can clarify what is and is not illegal.
The comments came as various industry stakeholders appeared before the Economy Commission in Chile’s Chamber of Deputies this week to provide input regarding a pending online gambling bill.
Participants included representatives from telecommunications authority Subtel, the government internet regulator, and the Concepción Lottery. Planned testimony from the Corporation for Responsible Gaming (CJR) was delayed until a later session due to time constraints.
Subtel, which regulates telecommunications concessionaires and licensees in Chile, said during its presentation that it does not regulate the content of the internet, and that internet access by law is a Chilean right.
Nodding to pressure from various anti-gambling politicians who have called for online gambling websites to be blocked in Chile, Subtel also said it recognised that “the prosecution of illegality is difficult due to the avoidant actions that are usually created by the illegal internet”.
As such, Subtel recommended that the Chilean casino regulator, the Casino Gaming Superintendence, must arbitrate which platforms are legal and which are not. Subtel suggested that after that determination was made, it could be of help “in the work of control and sanctioning, to the extent that such work consists specifically in verifying the blocking of a specific IP address”.
In addition, Subtel recommended which technical specifications should be addressed in the law and the follow-up regulation, suggesting that any website blocking should cover permanent IP changes, DNS masquerading and other techniques designed to generate new web addresses to dodge blacklisting.
The Economy Commission also heard from the Concepción Lottery, which together with the Polla Chilena de Beneficencia forms a duopoly on Chilean lottery offerings and all licensed online gaming.
The lottery, represented by Mario Parada Araya, advocated for a limited number of non-transferable licences and voiced concern that online operators could wipe out “authorised lottery games”, in other words the Concepción Lottery's own offerings.
The ensuing discussion in the commission concluded that the pending online gambling bill, as introduced by the government last year, lacks “a social role … to justify the enactment of the law and to be competitive. Thus, it should be standardised with the regulation of other gambling markets of chance, charitable or public benefit costs and prize funds.”
This refers to the fact that the Concepción Lottery and Polla Chilena partially benefit charitable institutions and that casinos pay taxes to the municipalities.
The Concepción Lottery also alleged that the draft text of the bill did not take responsible gambling seriously, due to the 1 percent tax rate that is earmarked to tackle gambling addiction, saying it needs to be far more comprehensive.
The discussion of the online gambling bill will continue at the Economy Commission's next meeting on March 21.