Argentina Nixes Plan to Allow Debit Card Use in Casinos


A recent attempt to introduce the use of debit and credit cards at casinos in Argentina has fizzled. Only a week after the announcement of the arrival of the new payment options, the country’s gaming regulator is stripping it away.

Buenos Aires Casino
Buenos Aires Casino
The Buenos Aires Casino in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It and others in the province almost had a shot at accepting debit and credit cards for gambling. (Image: Revista Casino Peru)

A week ago, in a decision that would have likely appealed to most gambling consumers in the country, Argentina was going to begin to allow the use of debit and credit cards in casinos. Any initial sense of happiness didn’t last long.

The Provincial Institute of Lottery and Casinos (IPLyC, for its Spanish acronym) suspended the decision to enable debit cards at bingo parlors, casinos, racetracks and racetracks in the province of Buenos Aires. The regulator may bring the options back once it resolves “operational issues,” according to a statement.

No More Plastic

The idea of being able to use plastic to make casino purchases casinos never received more than a lukewarm response from some. Opponents argued that it would only entice more spending, creating more potential for gambling harm.

The head of the IPLyC, Omar Galdurralde, signed Resolution 477/2022 last week. This nullifies Resolution 2.215/16, which established the obligation to accept bank debit cards using posnet (a type of point of sale system) in the authorized gaming rooms throughout the Province of Buenos Aires. The goal was to prevent tax evasion and money laundering in the gaming properties.

Galdurralde appointed a technical commission to advance the project. However, operators ran into issues. They responded, complaining that the implementation of the terms of the new policy was too problematic. It required a reconditioning of financial transaction systems, new accounting administrative processes in the circuits and other procedures involving compliance.

In the midst of the controversy, the IPLyC decided to suspend the authorization. However, the regulator is confident that this is only a short delay. It added that it will reconsider the cancelation once operators have “sufficient time to comply with the obligation imposed by the administrative act.”

Plan Faced Uphill Battle

Roberto Páez, secretary general of a casino trade group, spoke with a media outlet from Mar del Plata about the new measure this week. He is supportive of the idea, but acknowledged that several unanswered questions need addressing.

One is whether the measure will authorize additional card options, such as ATMs, in the casinos. Another is the forced acceptance of posnet, instead of allowing the property owners to decide if they want to include them.

Although the position of the union representative was moderate, others weren’t as ready to embrace the idea. The head of the Civic Coalition at the Buenos Aires level, Andrés De Leo, harshly questioned the resolution. He asserted that prohibiting the use of cards in casinos is a key tool in the fight against gambling and compulsive gambling.

Walter Martello, the Deputy Ombudsman of Buenos Aires, echoed De Leo’s stance. He stated, “In a complex context of the economy, the game can be seen as a ‘salvation.’ It is necessary to support and strengthen the different public policies that seek to guarantee the treatment of problematic and pathological gambling.”

Florencia Retamoso, a member of the Juntos por el Cambio (United for Change) caucus, is taking her opposition a step further. She has presented a bill that would prevent the installation of ATMs in the betting and gambling halls of the Buenos Aires province. It would also prohibit any “credit” or “loan” systems.

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