Uruguay's Chamber Of Deputies Pushes Online Gambling Bill To New Year

December 20, 2022
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Uruguay’s online gambling bill, which was first introduced in November 2021, has been pushed back for discussion until March 2023.

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Uruguay’s online gambling bill, which was first introduced in November 2021, has been pushed back for discussion until March 2023.

Initially, the bill had a deadline of November 30, which was to be voted on by the Finance Commission in the Chamber of Deputies after it was passed by the Finance Commission in the Senate. Now, it will be addressed after the southern hemisphere’s summer and Christmas break, returning to the table when Congress returns to session.

The bill would regulate online casino gambling and place it under the authority of the General Directorate of Casinos — a proposal which has generated increasing scrutiny.

It would mean that brick-and-mortar casinos which already have a licence could operate online games, but it would leave sports betting regulated under the authority of the National Directorate of Lotteries and Quinielas and controlled exclusively by the national lottery.

As Luis Gama, former director of the National Directorate of Lotteries and Quinielas and now a consultant to the industry, told VIXIO in September: “I believe that if the bill is passed unchanged in terms of establishing two executive units to deal with all matters related to online gambling, it would be a serious mistake. There are no precedents at a regional level for the regulation of online gambling in a fragmented manner in which two organisations assume this responsibility.”

Deputy Álvaro Viviano, the President of the Finance Commission, said that the vote was delayed due to similar protests. Legislators from both the Cabildo Abierto and the Frente Amplio parties asked for more time.

Viviano told local news that it was impossible to call for a vote as things stand due to lack of consensus. He said: “We spent three months analysing the project, even the kiosk owner on the corner came to the committee to give his opinion on the articles, and it is more than clear."

Luis Gama said “the bill has been moved to next year due to the fact that … alternative proposals that were much more ambitious than the original bill have caused the parliamentarians to be divided and they did not have enough votes to approve it”.

The Cabildo Abierto party is advocating for the creation of a regulatory body that would oversee all online gambling, rather than having two, and the inclusion of sports betting.

Sebastián Valdomir, a deputy from Frente Amplio, questioned how many regulatory authorities there would be and asked for more controls to support gambling addiction.

Gama concluded: “Perhaps it is time to discuss a more substantive bill than the one submitted.”

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