Argentina's Córdoba Loses Half Of Its Licensees Amid Delays

September 6, 2023
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Argentina’s Córdoba province has lost four of its eight online gambling licensees in the process of signing concession contracts, a process that has mysteriously taken nearly a year.
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Argentina’s Córdoba province has lost four of its eight online gambling licensees in the process of signing concession contracts, a process that has mysteriously taken nearly a year.

Licences were pre-awarded in September of last year, but the draft regulations and licensing framework were initially published in May 2022, six months before the FIFA World Cup that saw Argentina crowned eventual champions. 

One of the official reasons given to local outlet La Voz for the reduction in operators was indeed that the World Cup had come and gone, in addition to the uncertainty regarding Argentina's pending presidential election at the end of October. 

The current election front runner, Javier Milei, has raised more than a few eyebrows with his proposed policies. He has endorsed the dollarisation of the Argentine peso, the elimination of the Argentine central bank and denied the existence of climate change.

Milei has voiced admiration for Donald Trump and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, while having no political experience.

The uncertainty Milei introduces is said to be less than attractive to foreign investors. 

What has gone unsaid, however, is that the licensing process in Córdoba has been fraught with delays for months, with little official explanation. 

The deadline for execution of the final contracts was originally October 27, 2022, just before the World Cup. 

It was delayed for “administrative reasons” as the World Cup came and went, and pre-licences were not awarded until March of this year. 

In the midst of these delays, officials in the city of Córdoba, which is home to a third of the population in the province of the same name, announced that online gambling would not be welcome there. They said that according to city law, online gambling was illegal even if authorised at provincial level.

The published contract model in the province’s gazette did not recognise the city’s independent status, but local officials continue to insist it will not be allowed.

The contracts for the licences themselves have not yet been signed for the four who remain, altthough those involved claim that it will happen after the election. 

The eight pre-awarded licensees included: Rush Street Interactive Latin America LLC; Sucursal Argentina together with Atlantica De Juegos S.A.; Betsson together with Casino De Victoria S.A.; Concesionaria de Entretenimientos y Turismo with Daruma Sam S.A.; Binbaires S.A. with Ondiss S.A. and Intralot International Limited; Impresora Internacional De Valores; Codere (Iberargen S.A.; and Boldt S.A.

Of those eight, only four paid the ARS200m (US$1m) “guarantee”. These are Buenos Aires-based Boldt (associated with SG Digital), Betsson and Casino de Victoria, the local investment partnership which will operate with Paraguayan company Daruma Sam, and Grupo Slots from San Luis.

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