Chile Business Owners Join Casino Dreams to Weed Out Illegal Gambling

Posted on: January 23, 2023, 07:29h. 

Last updated on: January 24, 2023, 08:15h.

Chilean casino operator Casino Dreams doesn’t want online gambling in the country, nor does it want any gambling it can’t control. As a result, it recently launched an effort to force regional government bodies to take a stance against gambling that found support last week from a group of business owners.

Casino Dreams Araucania in Temuco, Chile
The Casino Dreams Araucania casino in Temuco, Chile. The casino operator continues to fight online gambling and what it calls illegal land-based gambling, and has found support in the community. (Image: Casino Dreams)

Various public institutions in La Araucanía, a region in central Chile, are siding with Casino Dreams. They signed an agreement last week to effectively address the proliferation of illegal casinos and clandestine gambling in the region.

The initiative was part of a seminar the Chilean Investigative Police organized in the city of Temuco, which had the participation of the force’s financial crimes division, La Araucanía’s Regional Prosecutor’s Office, the Municipality of Temuco, and others. At the forefront was Casino Dreams.

Exorcising the Criminal Element

Israel Campusano, Temuco’s director of public security, told the seminar attendees that there are allegedly 20 illegal gambling properties in the city. But he said current legislation makes it difficult to take action against them. He didn’t address the question of how the city could have allowed the businesses to open if they didn’t have the requisite licenses.

Still, he urged the attendees to come together to force change. He emphasized Casino Dreams’ involvement in that process in an effort to “put an end to this phenomenon.”

Campusano added that the illegal gambling houses are rife with cigarette and alcohol smuggling, money laundering, and organized crime. Therefore, in his estimation, this means this gambling sector is only a facade to cover up other types of illegal activities.

Also participating in the seminar was a representative of the local tax authority of La Araucanía. He said that the agency has already been working with public and private businesses to campaign for legislative changes.

Like Campusano, he asserted that the businesses are operating illegally. He added that they don’t provide any economic contributions to the region, though it would seem that they have to pay for the use of the properties, provide employment, and pay for licenses.

The former prosecutor of the Public Ministry, Carlos Gajardo, highlighted the ongoing work to eradicate non-casino gambling at the national level. Like the others, he called out the properties for being hubs for dangerous crimes, although the same argument might be made for Chile’s entire gambling industry.

More Control Needed

During the meeting, the topic turned to the importance of having more legislative involvement. This should provide “better control tools” and tougher penalties against administrators, operators, and players at illegal casinos.

To that end, the Public Ministry has already initiated at least one investigation that the Superintendency of Casinos presented. Its goal is to “attack” and eradicate this criminal focus in the city.

Luis Arroyo Palma had an opportunity to explain how his office is addressing the situation. The head of La Araucanía’s Property Crimes Unit pointed out that there are new, stricter criminal charges specific to the commission of crimes.

These include theft and money laundering that occur in relation to a gambling operation. These crimes fall within new criminal prosecution policies the Regional Prosecutor’s Office implemented.

The initiative is garnering support at both the local and national levels. The signatory institutions are part of the Intersectoral Oversight Board the municipality established through its Public Security Directorate. This agency includes a number of prominent public entities.

Among these are Chile’s National Service for Women and Gender Equality, and the Supervisor for the Environment. In addition, regional police forces, the Regional Coordination of Public Security, Labor and Welfare Supervision, and more play a part.