SIS Chile

Chile restarts tricky path to complete new Federal Gambling Bill

The Senate of Chile has reinitiated proceedings to launch a new federal framework for gambling, following 2023’s inconclusive developments which saw key departments fail to reach terms on a bill to legislate new laws and market standards.

Chile’s Senate and National Congress have returned to duties following the summer recess. Both legislative offices are required to review the outstanding terms and articles needed to finalise the new Federal Gambling Bill (035/2022).

2023 had been designated as the year Chile would overhaul its existing regime, legalising online gambling and ending the monopoly rights of the three municipal businesses of Loteria Concepción, Polla Chilena (football pools), and Teletrak Chile (pari-mutuel horse racing).

Progress on developing a new Federal Gambling Bill saw lawmakers agree on articles updating Chile’s judicial laws to interpret online gambling. Furthermore, the Ministry of Finance had proposed to apply an industry-specific 20% tax charge on gross income and a licensing framework for foreign and domestic businesses.

Yet, at the close of 2023 proceedings were derailed by a Supreme Court intervention which upheld a legal challenge by monopoly operators demanding that Chilean authorities recognise and prosecute online gambling as an illegal activity.

The Supreme Court ordered the government to block access to websites that must be “considered illegal until the government finds a regulatory status for online gambling”. Consequently, the Supreme Court mandated a 12-month cooling-off period for grey market operators in the Bill, aiming to shield state-owned entities during the regulatory shift.

Reinitiating the debate on finalising Chile’s new gambling regime, monopoly operators have demanded that certain protections and exclusivities be maintained by the government and guaranteed by the laws that are being revised.

As reported by SBC Noticias, “Polla Chilena de Beneficencia expressed concerns about being treated like other international operators in the proposed bill, pointing out its distinct structure and ownership.”

Meanwhile, representing Betano, Coolbet, Betsson, BetWarrior, and 1xBet, lawyer Carlos Baeza stated that monopoly operators were simply obstructing the passage of the Federal Gambling Bill.

“There is no provision in the Chilean legal system that prevents the development of online betting,” Baeza detailed to the Senate’s Economic Commission.

However, the Superintendence of Gaming Casinos (SCJ), Chile’s gambling authority, maintains the stance of monopolies “that without explicit legal regulation, the commercial exploitation of games of chance is illegal in Chile. It highlighted that only licensed entities like casinos and Polla Chilena de Beneficencia are currently authorised for such activities.”

As such, the status of the Federal Gambling Bill remains stuck with the Senate Economy Committee as key departments are yet to submit articles related to technical requirements, licensing authorisations, penalties, and outstanding legal determinations.

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