The Congress of Uruguay has announced that it will resume its debate on whether to legalise online gambling in March.
The deliberation on online gambling is needed following a near two-year hiatus on the matter, following the Chamber of Senators’ approval of an Online Gambling Bill in August 2022.
Uruguay’s designated Bill is reported to have been stuck under review by Committees of the House of Representatives, due to opposition to further liberalise Uruguay’s gambling sector.
Proposals endorsed by the Senate, called for the Ministry of Finance to establish a new register to license online gambling firms.
The bill further proposes creating a fund within the General Directorate of Casinos, which would allocate 5-8% of gross income to prevent online gambling harm and fund treatment.
Under the current regime, land-based casino concessions can only be granted for municipalities in Tourism Zones, such as Punta del Este, a popular destination for South American VIPs.
Meanwhile, retail sports betting concessions can only be granted by the National Directorate of Lotteries and Quinielas (DNLQ) to operate a state-owned betting agency. Changes to the regime in 2018 allowed La Banca de Quinielas de Montevideo to launch SuperMatch – Uruguay’s only licensed online sportsbook.
The call to resume Uruguay’s online gambling debate has been led by Finance Commission President Álvaro Viviano, citing that “The worst thing that can happen to us is that nothing comes next. Uruguay needs some form of regulation for online gambling.”
Viviano cited that the Finance Commission understood existing stakeholders’ concerns that new legislation “would break the current structure of game management.”
Though formally approved by the Senate, opposition to the Bill claims that online gambling proposals must be modified to protect domestic businesses’ control of the market.
Roberto Palermo, President of the Uruguayan Quinielas Bank, defended the current state-controlled monopoly model: “La Banca is a group of Uruguayan companies, organized to manage official games in a safe and responsible manner, with all the controls and requirements of the State through the National Directorate of Lotteries and Quinielas.
“It is a system that has proven to work well for all parties involved in this sector: the State, customers, and dealers. We understand that the best solution to enable online casino games would be through a single platform, integrated by in-person concessionaires.”