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Argentina’s Buenos Aires province passes online gambling legislation

Lawmakers in the Argentinean province of Buenos Aires have approved the 2019 Budget, which includes a measure to regulate online gambling across the province.

n a parliamentary session that ran into the early hours of Tuesday morning, legislators voted in favour of the bill on the grounds that the financial boost of legal online gambling outweighed concerns raised by the anti-gambling lobby.

While there was significant resistance from opposition parties and within the governing Cambiemos party, the backing of Buenos Aires governor María Eugenia Vidal ensured the bill was passed.

Under the new legislation, seven licenses will be issued in the province covering online sports betting, casino games, poker, and horse race betting.

Online gaming operators will be subject to a 15 per cent tax on gross gaming revenue, with the governor estimating that this could boost the province’s coffers by around ARS$2.2bn (US$60m) annually.

Regulations will be overseen by the Buenos Aires Institute of Lottery and Casinos (IPLyC), which will require online gambling companies to base their operations in the provincial capital of La Plata.

“There is great interest in Buenos Aires’ online gambling market from international operators and providers,” said Juan Ignacio Juanena, founder of iGaming Latam Consulting. “However, there’s uncertainty around the number of licences the province says it will issue. If the regulator only grants seven online gambling licences, that won’t be enough to cover the existing demand.

“With the technology that we have today, operators can be easily and accurately controlled and monitored by authorities. I believe the number of iGaming licensees should be determined by the size and potential of the market.”

Gambling in Argentina is overseen on a provincial basis, with the province of Buenos Aires home to more than 15 million people. The federal capital city of Buenos Aires is not included in the province.

Juanena said that the success of Colombia’s regulated iGaming market, as well as the move towards regulation by the Buenos Aires province, would serve as a blueprint for other Latin American jurisdictions to follow, including Mexico, Chile and Uruguay.

“We are also waiting to see how this impacts Buenos Aires City, which is likely to move quickly as operators are also keen to enter this market,” added Juanena.

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