SBC News Buenos Aires cites ‘alarming frequency’ of underage gambling behind licence cessation
Gobierno BA

Buenos Aires cites ‘alarming frequency’ of underage gambling behind licence cessation

The Executive of Buenos Aires will no longer issue online gaming licences in a bid to tackle gambling addiction amongst minors.

Announced yesterday by Jorge Macri, Chief of Government of Buenos Aires, the city is officially closing the registry of gambling licences, announcing a immediate “review of the 11 in force”. A fundamental part of this is said to consist of the “process of age verification of gamblers in the sites’ registry”.

Whilst the sector remained at the centre of public discussion due to various advancing measures against its marketing and advertising, numerous legislators have finally presented proposals to limit it, arguing that there has been an increase in pathological gambling among under 18s.

The head of the Argentine capital decided to take measures through the Lottery of the City of Buenos Aires (LOTBA), the regulatory body which launched BA’s online gambling regime in 2020.

LOTBA has now closed the call for applications to grant online gambling licences, but the regulations do not establish a quantitative limit for operators and only the 11 that already had a valid licence will now remain in operation.

Buenos Aires launched LOTBA’s online gambling regime in 2020, allowing for municipal gambling businesses to secure online partnerships with foreign operators, including bet365, GiG, Betsson, and Playtech, among others.

Macri emphasised that in every meeting with parents and communities, and in parents’ WhatsApp chats, the topic of underage gambling comes up with “alarming frequency”. 

Macri continued: “We are not here to ignore these problems. We confront them head-on, even when we don’t have all the solutions at hand. Our message is clear: not with children.”

Additionally, audits will be carried out on active operators meaning firms  will now have to supervise age verification systems, implement self-exclusion tools and self-limits on time, deposits and losses. Bookmakers will also be required to create alerts and limitations on economic transactions and advertising.

On the other hand, the capital’s leader assured that “one of the main flaws of the system is the authentication factor.” For this reason, he announced that they are working to improve the identity validation controls of users to prevent minors from entering with false data.

“In the next few days, we will open a group facility at the Álvarez Hospital for minors with a possible diagnosis of pathological gambling and another for their families,” Macri added. 

“They are not alone. We will accompany them with a team of professionals prepared to assist them. This is not an easy path, but we are determined to work on it as a team: Government, schools, NGOs, clubs and families.”

He also noted that the government is seeking to partner with Meta, NIC.AR, ENACOM , MercadoLibre and Rapipago to eliminate and block content that promotes illegal gambling.

Further measures the city should expect include; blocking access to sites (both legal and illegal) from the WiFi network of all public schools, the extension of the blocking of betting sites to the entire public WiFi network, workshops in schools for teenagers and their families, and the announcement of the Club Prevention Network to address these behaviours in adolescent socialisation groups.

On this, the LOTBA President, Jesús Acevedo – who was appointed in January this year- concluded: “We have already blocked 715 social media profiles and advertisements. We ordered the blocking of 12 websites in puntoAR domains, we requested the deletion of 9 publications in Mercado Libre and we sent 9 document letters to influencers who advertise unregistered betting sites. 

“This work is daily, today we are already sending new document letters and we are criminally denouncing illegal gaming platforms.”

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