Few days back Buenos Aires legalized online betting in Argentina. Maria Eugina Vidal, the Buenos Aires mayor, signed Decree 181 which legalises online casino games, sports betting, poker and horse racing gambling which was a momentous occasion for Argentina’s gambling industry is the understatement of the century. Decree 181 outlines that seven remote gaming licenses will be granted to bookmakers and gambling operators and their income will be taxed at 25%
Buenos Aires is Argentina’s capital and with its own population of 16 million people, is bigger than many Latin American countries. While other smaller provinces within Argentina have legalised gambling, the move from the nation’s biggest economy will almost certainly lead to the majority of the country following suit.
The move by Vidal has been credited as another important step in restoring the nation’s flagging economy, that has taken more than 15 years to recover from its financial crisis of the early 2000s.
Argentina’s biggest soccer league, Superliga, is looking for a cut of any wagering made on the competition. Nicolás Russo, President of Lanús FC and a member of the AFA’s executive committee, mooted heavy lobbying ahead and said they won’t rule out taking forceful measures. It is not serious or fair to have betting on football matches and not pay the clubs a peso.
Decree 181/19 law authorizes the provision of online slots, casino games, lotteries and horse racing betting. While not specified, poker will presumably be covered by online casino games. It also allows for betting on non-sports events, as long as they are not of political nature.
In December 2018, following years of discussion, both the Argentinian city and province of Buenos Aires approved Decree 181 in the 2019 Budget. The decree was formally passed into provincial law last week, following its publication in the state gazette.
Licenses to Operators
The Province government will be able to grant up to seven licenses, —only one per licensee. Operators will have to register first to be able to apply. An evaluation committee will eventually decide whether to award a license, in accordance with 20 minimum requirements that operators will have to meet regarding experience, financial solvency, technical competence, data protection security and the number of events and sports, among others.
Licensed operators will have to pay around 25% of their proceeds to the Province’s tax authority, which will charge 15% as gross income tax, 8% as a tax levied according to each specific activity and 2% as a license fee. Although the issue sparked off a heated debate, the Province government was able to quiet down some opponents, including municipality mayors, by offering their jurisdictions a share of the proceeds. Municipalities will get 10% out of the 2% license fee.
The 2019 Tax Act will govern this gambling modality, and the Province’s executive branch will oversee this activity through the Buenos Aires Province Institute of Lotteries and Casinos (IPLyC in Spanish) and to that end, the government has created the Online Gaming Licenses Registry to keep a record of license holders.