Online casino legislation in Argentina: what is the current status?
Sunday 29th November 2020
To say there is an easy way to talk about Argentina's regulation of its gambling industry would not be entirely true. The country, which represents one of the most promising markets in Latin America, has long been eyed by some of the best brands internationally.
In fact, brands such as bet365 and Betway have already applied for a licence in the country. Yet nothing about Argentina's gambling legislation is quite cut-and-dry just yet. If anything, the country has quite a bit of doubt to dispel.
Insofar as the brick-and-mortar segment is casinos are very much back in business. They had to shut down temporarily throughout 2020 to cope with an ongoing global pandemic, but managed to return in November that same year.
In the meantime, the country has been thinking seriously about making an effort and legalising online gambling across Argentina. All of this is still work in progress.
Online casinos in Argentina are not yet regulated, and this is not a bad thing. There are two ways to look at the situation - one is to follow Buenos Aires, which is the country's capital and also considered an autonomous region when it comes to gambling.
The other is to take the country as a whole. While the country has not yet been able to come up with a framework to regulate online gambling nationally, Buenos Aires has seen quite a bit of effort put in by lawmakers, former mayors, and lobbyists.
As a result, Buenos Aires is closer than any other province in the country to securing an online gambling framework that would allow up to 12 international brands to enter the city and province, and provide them with online gambling products on its territory.
Interest from abroad has been steady, with brands such as 888, Betsson, and Sisal making a definitive push for the country. Because of the pandemic that struck in 2020, the online gambling framework for the city was expedited in 2021, as the country is looking to recuperate from not just a health crisis, but one that has had economic consequences.
To address concerns about hiding tax, Argentina is also setting a tax on digital gaming ranging from two to five per cent on the gross value of each bet or game, and the country is also introducing a 10 per cent tax on operators which are running their operations out of tax havens.
While this is still work in progress, licensed operators in Buenos Aires will need to adopt the local domain, .ar, and comply with regulatory norms set out by the Lotería de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires (LOTBA).
Online casino gaming in Argentina is presently a grey area. As mentioned, the country and specifically Buenos Aires are in the process of legalizing the industry, but this will take a while.
In the meantime, players may turn to so-called offshore gambling websites, which are still licensed, but they may fail to provide the same level of consumer protection or care an .ar one would. In any event, players in Argentina have options, and these options are only about to get much better.
Buenos Aires is most likely going to pass a clear-cut framework that regulates its online gambling segment in 2021 at the latest. Over a dozen brands are expected to join the space and dozens more will be bidding for a slot.
Without a doubt, Argentina is a market brimming with potential insofar as the online gambling segment is concerned. Despite the fact that Buenos Aires has been dragging its feet on legalising online gambling for at least three years now, a lot is bound to change.
The country and Buenos Aires are keen on introducing a framework that would allow them to establish clear-cut rules for gambling. More importantly, Argentina can really use the additional tax money to speed up its post-pandemic recovery and fund the public purse, which was weighed down by recent events.
Online gambling will be fun and useful as well, especially for the millions of consumers who are still forced to seek a worthwhile gaming product abroad.