Chile's Lower House Approves Sports Sponsorship Ban

December 9, 2022
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Legislative chess continues for online gambling operators active in Chile, in the wake of the Chamber of Deputies passage of a bill that would ban them from any kind of sports sponsorship.

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Legislative chess continues for online gambling operators active in Chile, in the wake of the Chamber of Deputies passage of a bill that would ban them from any kind of sports sponsorship.

Although the vote itself was straightforward, with 118 in approval and 1 against, its overall implications are less clear. Insiders call the bill’s victory in the chamber misleading given that it stands a good chance of dying before it ever becomes law.

Earlier in its life, it was suspected the bill was merely a tool to galvanise the Economy Commission into addressing the larger gambling bill that has been dormant since March.

But the text of the bill has become more aggressive as time goes on and it continues to pass legislative hurdles.

When Bill no. 14892-29 was initially proposed in April by deputy Marco Antonio Sulantay, it banned advertising online gaming operators at sports venues and on any of their broadcasts and equipment. That was changed to a complete ban of any kind of contract between online gambling operators and sports teams.

Currently, 15 of the 16 football teams in the first league team are sponsored by online gambling companies.

Carlos Baeza, who is a lawyer for Betano, Betsson, Latamwin and Coolbet, remains unfazed by the latest vote. He pointed to the parliamentary comments made as the sponsorship banning bill was being passed, which he suggested were more focused on the overall regulation of the sector.

“All the speeches that we heard that day were focused on the same point: this is an industry and an issue that needs to be regulated. We didn't hear anything regarding the total prohibition of advertising … they agree that this is something that needs to be regulated.”

Sulantay tweeted at the time: “Today was a good day for the transparency of Chilean soccer, as the Chamber of Deputies approved by a large majority my bill that limits the relationship between online betting platforms and professional soccer. Healthy competition is our goal.”

But Baeza insists that Sulantay knows his bill will never become law. “On the [larger gambling bill] there are rules about advertising … for sure there won’t be total prohibition, this is the understanding that all of us have.”

He concluded: “This is something that Marcos Antonio Sulantay and those close to him know. They know this is a bad idea.”

Going forward, the bill will now go back to the Sports Commission in the Chamber of Deputies for amendments in January, where Baeza said he expects it will be approved. It will then be passed to the Senate, where he suspects it will encounter more trouble, as the larger gambling bill is also expected to make its way there in the new year.

That broader bill includes advertising regulations, which, although strict, do not ban online betting sponsors entirely.

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