Chile's Online Gambling Bill Stalls

November 15, 2023
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Chile’s pending online gambling bill has been delayed in the Chamber of Deputies finance commission as lawmakers instead race to approve budgets for the coming year. 
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Chile’s pending online gambling bill has been delayed in the Chamber of Deputies finance commission as lawmakers instead race to approve budgets for the coming year.

Many members of the finance commission are also members of the Congress' joint budget committee, making it difficult for the group to accomplish anything in November, which jeopardises the likelihood of pending online gambling legislation being brought up before the plenary of the Chamber of Deputies by the end of the year.

The joint committee has a budget deadline of November 30, after which point it is presumed that the finance commission will fully assemble once more to address the online gambling bill that was recently approved by the Chamber's economy commission.

The delay does not come as a disappointment to online gambling operators, who are lobbying against unfavourable blackout provisions in the pending bill and had been slammed with a Supreme Court ruling in September that ordered telecoms operator Mundo Pacífico to block 23 gambling sites. 

That ruling cited more than 40 complaints filed by land-based casinos and state lottery operator Polla Chilena de Beneficencia against Betano, Betsson, BetWarrior, Coolbet and Latamwin.

As of the end of October, however, the Chilean Public Prosecutor’s Office had decided to not pursue any of those complaints and will not take action against the operators for criminal activity.

Carlos Baeza, a Chilean lawyer who works with the aforementioned companies, hailed the decision of prosecutors as a decisive victory and the most important legal development regarding online gambling in the past two years.  

According to Baeza’s reading, the prosecutor’s office has decided that online gambling operators are not illegal, a point that has been bitterly fought between incumbent Chilean casinos and online operators. 

They have “said so on several occasions before, that online gambling is not a crime, it is not included within the criminal offences contained in the Penal Code, which is the same as we have always maintained”, Baeza said.

Baeza also hopes that the decision will bring an end to legal complaints against online operators, which have become a very common occurrence in the past year.

According to Baeza: “They are necessarily going to be filed and dismissed because, in the opinion of the Public Prosecutor's Office, as we have said, online gambling is not a contributory offence."

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