Argentina’s Tangled Online Political Tango

The city government of the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, is poised to unveil legal online betting in a bid to boost tax revenues that have been severely affected by the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, it has been reported.

Under the proposal, it is hoped that online sports betting will generate an estimated US$6.8m (£5.16m) in tax revenues for the city.

Accordingly, current sports betting regulations in Buenos Aires—only approved in February this year, before Covid-19 hit home—are now under review.

“It’s very important that online gambling is a clean industry,” said a local politician behind the plan. “We are also asking for online sports betting advertising restrictions.”

Sources say that seven gambling companies are trying to obtain an official licence for online sports betting in Buenos Aires.

The City Lottery, “Loteria de la Ciudad” (LOTBA), which regulates gambling in the city, is in broad agreement with the online expansion plans, it is reported.

LOTBA has proposed establishing a number of “online gaming agencies” to offer sports betting, slots, lottery and various casino-style table games.

Licensees will pay an initial US$30,000 (£23,000) processing fee and a fixed annual fee of US$100,000 (£76,000) as well as a US$2m (£1.52) “compliance guarantee” as a form of insurance.

Companies will need to demonstrate at least two years experience in the business — and a minimum net worth of US$25m (£19m).

LOTBA, for its part, will collect taxes of 10 per cent of gaming revenue.

Last year, the Province of Buenos Aires–legally distinct from the city– prepared to launch its own online gambling licences, with Bet365, Betway and Codere LatAm poised to enter the fray.

But the plan is currently on hold because of political upheaval.

ArgenBingo (partnering with William Hill), Bingo Pilar, Paddy Power and Betfair are among other companies in Argentina’s online mix.

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