Uruguay is a step closer to becoming the latest Latin American country to embrace iGaming. A Senate committee has approved a bill circulating among legislators, but there is still more work to do.
The country’s Senate Finance Committee approved a bill the Executive Branch of government approved months ago. If it survives, it would green-light state-run and private online casinos and gaming.
Some Senate lawmakers define the initiative as a “priority.” This is because, among other things, the demand for online betting has grown as a result of COVID-19.
LatAm a Hot iGaming Market
When the government first presented the bill, it only contained a rough framework of how the online gaming segment would function. Since then, a number of changes have been made as different political parties have taken a look. While they added some options, they also stripped away others.
Among other contributions, legislators included an article that requires the National Directorate of Casinos (DGC, for its Spanish acronym) to finance a fund to treat gambling addiction. The gaming regulator will have to give 5% of its gross profits to the fund if the bill survives.
In addition, the DGC will have another task. It will have to create and supervise new responsible gambling rules. This move comes as the result of the arrival of online casinos, and will standardize the criteria by which all casinos in the country operate.
A senator for the Popular Participation Movement, Alejandro Sánchez, was surprised to find one item excluded from the bill as it made its rounds. Lawmakers, somewhere along the way, stripped language preventing new registration bonuses and other promotions.
More At Stake Than Meets the Eye
The legislation is moving quickly, according to media outlet El País, for another reason. Senators allegedly want to jump-start the investment Giuseppe Cipriani made in Punta del Este. The millionaire entrepreneur wants a new hotel and casino there.
Cipriani wants an online gaming license and may have considered that when he agreed to spend $450 million in Punta del Este three years ago. However, as it stands, the legislation will not allow the Italian to conduct iGaming activity.
The rules specify that only those land-based operators with live casinos can qualify for an online license. As a result, since Cipriani hasn’t completed his dream, he won’t qualify.
The Senate hopes that, by pushing the legislation through quickly, they can resolve several issues. These include generating more revenue for Uruguay and keeping Cipriani from pulling out of the country, which he has threatened to do.
However, when the initiative reaches the Chamber of Deputies, it could thwart their efforts. There is reportedly significant resistance to the project in the chamber.
For example, Deputy Sebastián Cal has voiced his opposition to the proposal. He told El País that the provision to dedicate a percentage of revenue to problem gambling. In addition, he’s disappointed that the legislation doesn’t offer more controls on gambling advertising.
As a result, as close as Uruguay is to crossing the finish line, gamblers can’t expect any miracles. However, as the country’s borders begin to see iGaming come to life, Uruguay may need more time.
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