Could Chile be moving to legalise online gambling?

Stakeholders in the Chilean gaming sector are calling on regulators to legalise online gambling as a way to mitigate the effects of loss of revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Superintendencia de Casinos de Juego (SCJ), Chile’s gambling regulatory ordered the closure of all land casinos. They remain closed as of 18 March, until further notice. As online gambling is currently illegal in the country, casino operators are losing out on considerable amounts of revenue. They have no idea how long it will last and have expressed concerns over job losses.

The COVID-19 effect

With the recovery period in the country expected to last 12-18 months, operators are looking to online gambling to recoup losses. The SCJ responded to calls by saying there are no immediate plans to regulate online casinos. To regulate a new activity, a deep understanding of how to create an effective tax and regulatory framework needs to be attained.

“To achieve that, we must strive for a balance between an economic as well as a sustainable development that guarantees the players’ trust, protects children and also takes into account the state necessities related to taxation, anti-money laundering and terrorism-financing policies, among other values that must be guaranteed and protected,” the SCJ explained.

The topic had been a topic of conversation before the pandemic. Despite this, no general consensus on the matter had been achieved. There was polarisation between whether casinos should be able to operate online, or whether a regulatory framework should be drafted.

Online gambling in South America

At the moment, Colombia is the only South American country that has legalized online gambling. Colombia’s first online casino license was issued in June 2017. In Argentina, online gambling is illegal except for in the city of Buenos Aires. The sector is expected to be launched and operational by Q4 of this year.

With over 650 million inhabitants, there’s no doubt that South America is a prime location for the online casino industry. It seems however, we may have to wait a little longer to see this industry grow.