The status of online casino legislation in Chile

Monday 30th November 2020

Chile is one of the most remarkable Latin American markets. The country occupies the better part of the west coast of South America and with a population of 18.73 million, the market for interactive gaming products is as vibrant as it gets.

Still, the country has not been very keen on introducing online casinos in a legal capacity - that is until 2020 when Chile had to deal with the financial repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis.

While the country has suffered, a minor silver lining given the severity of the pandemic was the introduction of a framework that allows Chile's casinos to scale their operations online and secure additional revenue for the State's coffers.

Regulating online casinos in Chile is very new. In fact, Chilean media reported in June, 2020 that the Congress has made a proposal to allow for the automatic renewal of the operating permits of 14 casino brands, thus avoiding suspending them indefinitely.

All 14 properties were supposed to expire in 2020, but the Chilean government has decided to counteract this with an ad-hoc measure that renewed the licences for another 12 months before a more thorough review of licence holders could be done.

Clearly, Chile has experience in regulating the brick-and-mortar casino sector, but what is interesting is how the country copes with regulation of the online segment. While the country's 26 casinos are easy to pin-point, the interactive segment has its own challenges.

Yet, the Superintendencia de Casinos de Juego (SCJ), which is the country's regulator in charge of the brick-and-mortar segment, has been a staunch supporter of Chile getting the go-ahead to launch online gambling so as to offset the financial impact of the pandemic.

At the time, the SCJ has called on the government to help it establish a fair and efficient tax and regulatory framework that would allow the country to balance between social responsibility and economic viability.

Online casinos in Chile are still not regulated to this date unfortunately, but this doesn't mean that you cannot participate in various online gambling contests. Just the opposite is true.

Yes, Chilean players can enjoy various online casinos. While the brick-and-mortar segment is clearly regulated tightly by SCJ and the government, the interactive segment has allowed for some international brands to arrive and provide online casino products to domestic players.

Even though, there is no exact framework to pinpoint, Chilean players must still comply with regulatory measures enforced by respected brands. For example, players under the age of 18 cannot play legally or participate in any online gambling contests.

However, without a clear regulatory framework to regulate that, some ill-meaning casinos may take advantage of such players. That is why it's important to only play and stick with respected brands that have international exposure and are accountable towards the players they accept money from.

Because of the unregulated status of the industry, more or less, it's important to understand that player protection in Chile is the exclusive remit of SCJ. The regulator, though, only has rights to regulate the brick-and-mortar segment.

In other words, rogue online casinos still exist and target Chilean players. To avoid running into such brands, it's important to rely on player reviews and try to stick with brands with international exposure.

The good news is there are several such casinos that are now on the Chilean interactive market, even though they operate in a sort of a grey area.

Chile is one of the most promising Latin American markets. While it lacks the size and breadth of Brazil, Chile has an established gambling framework and the willingness to continue expanding the industry.

What is more important, the country is clearly concerned with regulations and how to best protect consumers. Given this context, Chile will surely be able to move forward establish itself as a leader in the online gambling segment in Latin America.

To do, the country will still need to pass the necessary legislation and find international and domestic partners willing to spearhead this change in the gaming makeup.

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