Buenos Aires Legislature Paves Way for Online Gaming Expansion

Posted on: September 30, 2020, 06:46h. 

Last updated on: September 30, 2020, 08:41h.

Buenos Aires’ brick and mortar casinos can soon offer online gambling after a bill was passed by the city’s legislature. Opposition from some casinos was dropped after legislation allowed them to take part.

Argentina legislator Claudia Neira
Argentinian legislator Claudia Neira said gambling is a great source of income for Buenos Aires, but it needs to be controlled. (Image: Red Argentina de Peridismo Científico)

The local government will get between 10 and 20 percent of each bet, according to a report from G3Newswire. It will also receive 6 percent of the gross profits.

The revenue is needed by the government due to the continuing economic impact from the coronavirus pandemic, according to Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Texas, where he focuses on Latin American studies.

The city of Buenos Aires has seen its tax revenue from the physical casinos collapse, and hopes that through online gaming, it will be able to bring in around US $5 million in tax revenue per year,” Jones told Casino.org. “This is not a huge amount. But given the economic crisis facing Argentina, every little bit helps.”

The total gambling market in Argentina is estimated to be worth $415 million, Gaming Innovation Group said earlier this year. Just 7 percent of the total market is from online operations, so there is significant growth potential in the online gaming sector, the company adds.

Lost Casino Revenue

COVID-19 decimated in-person revenue in local gaming establishments, according to Jones. This resulted in the end of opposition to the online gaming bill.

Last month, Argentina’s Casino de Tandil began moving forward in its effort to resume operations, which will make it the first gaming venue in Buenos Aires to reopen since closing because of the pandemic.

In Buenos Aires, the Hipodromo de Palermo resumed horseracing on Aug. 28, according to SBC Americas. Races are held during the day, but the public is prohibited.

Curbing Problem Gaming

A related approved bill will ban ATMs and pawnshops from being located within 656 feet of gaming halls. The new legislation attempts to curb problem gambling risk.

We are creating a framework of controlled play,” Mercedes De Las Casas, a legislator, said in a statement to G3. “When gambling is not responsible, it turns into hurt and pain.”

Another legislator, Claudia Neira, noted that it is “important that gambling is controlled and prevented…. This is a great source of income for the city. But we know very well that it is an activity that brings many problems to the locals.”

Online gaming licenses will last for five years. The Ministry of Finance will regulate the sector.

Gaming Elsewhere in Latin America

Other Latin American countries may also expand into online gaming. Those nations would make a decision based on gaming and revenue projections, Jones said.

Another issue is whether online gambling is opposed by land-based casinos, racetracks, and bingo parlors in these nations, according to Jones.

Betting on US baseball has begun expanding in the region. In July, Costa Rican sportsbook Betcris secured a multi-year deal to become an official wagering partner for Major League Baseball in Latin America. It marks the first such agreement for MLB in a market that’s critically important for the sport.