Latin America and Legalizing Gaming in Argentina

By 09 October, 2019

Argentina is about to become one of the first countries in Latin America, after Brazil, to legalize its gaming segment. With a number of international brands already arriving in Buenos Aires, one unexpected new development may now imperil the future of the industry.

As general elections draw near for the province of Buenos Aires, politicians and lawmakers seem less inclined to support online gaming. Buenos Aires became the first province in Argentina to formally state that it would begin issuing online gaming licenses in the hopes of bringing more investment to the country.

Yet, while Argentina agreed to let Buenos Aires push ahead with its plans to legalize gaming, a change in the balance of powers may now upset what has been achieved so far. So is Latin America going to lose one of its yet-to-happen gaming huts? This is going to be decided on October 27, when voters will take to the urns.

If the country strikes down online gaming, that would be a significant loss for Argentina as well. According to the industry analyst website, many big brands have already applied for a license.

The Political Challenges in Argentina

As with any outgoing regime out there, the achievements of the ruling party are largely dismissed by the most likely contender to come into power. In this case, that’s Frente de Todos, a coalition party that seems inclined to seize power after the general elections at the end of October.

If Frente de Todos steps into power – which many expect will be the case – then the leader of the party may altogether discontinue the legislation and stop issuing online licenses, which would throw many big brands in disarray.

Several companies have already applied for licenses, including Paddy Power Betfair, Bet365, William Hill, the Stars Group, and 888 Holdings. All of them expect to be left without a valuable market, looking to Brazil instead.

This could potentially mean millions in lost revenue for the state, should legislation efforts be discontinued at the top.

The Expansion Effort Worked Out

In April 2019, Buenos Aires and Argentina – and specifically supporters of online casinos – had a lot to be thankful for. Buenos Aires Governor Maria Eugenia Vidal signed proposed legislation – Decree 181/19 – into law, effectively opening the way for gaming activities in the country, and specifically Buenos Aires.

Gov. Vidal thought it would be best to have all operations launched and use Buenos Aires as a testing ground for potentially expanding the industry beyond the capital province. With the proposed 25% tax rate, Buenos Aires also stood to take in a hefty chunk of the revenue generated via iGaming.

Many places around the world – including Brazil – have agreed to let gaming activities take a legal form to help local budgets. Much of the money that could be collected from gaming would be used to bolster important public sectors as well.

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