The Economy Committee in the Chilean Chamber of Deputies has finally approved a bill to legalise and regulate online gambling, which will now move into the lower house of the National Congress for further discussions.
The bill has been in workshops in the Economy Committee for the past few months, where lawmakers heard from numerous stakeholders, including Chile's internet regulator discussing whether website blocking was legally possible.
Discussions during the process have covered an interim bill proposed by incumbent casinos to immediately regulate the current grey market and the taxation rates that should be applied to online gambling.
Despite these ongoing and detailed discussions, there is no final text yet of the bill. The Economy Committee has now sent a draft to the main Chamber of Deputies, where it will be debated in committee and further amendments will be considered.
Still, last week's successful committee approval marks a significant step for the bill, as it had languished in the Economy Committee for nearly a year since it was first proposed by Chile's government.
The original president of the committee was accused of tabling projects that were not in his personal interest, therefore the bill did not get traction until he was ousted and Miguel Mellado took his place instead.
Carlos Baeza, a gaming lawyer who represents Latamwin, Coolbet and other Chile-facing operators, said that the Ministry of Finance and the Economy Committee had arrived at a consensus on the bill.
“We do not yet know the ideas for changes to the bill, neither from the Economy Committee, nor from the deputies from the Ministry of Finance,” Baeza told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.
“We are waiting to find out the agreements in relation to the changes. We hope that within these changes there will be modifications and improvements that we have presented as necessary for the project to work properly.”
One of those changes sought by online operators is removing the proposed exemption of public lottery Polla Chilena Beneficencia de Chile from meeting the technical requirements required of any other operators applying for an online licence. Baeza lobbied against this privileged status when he testified before the committee in January.
The regulation bill also will face off with another bill, Bill 14892-29, if and when it progresses to the Senate, which proposes to ban partnerships between online betting platforms and sports teams.
That bill, already approved in full by the Chamber of Deputies, also forbids advertising during games.
Baeza estimates that the regulation bill will be not discussed in the Chamber of Deputies until at least August before being brought up for a vote.