A landmark step for Chile’s iGaming legalisation has been made with the South American nation’s Economy Committee, within the Chamber of Deputies, finally approving a bill to comprehensively regulate online gambling.
Subject to a plethora of scrutiny and numerous workshops in recent months, the legislative bill has been drafted by lawmakers with the opinions of multiple stakeholders brought into consideration.
For example, the country’s internet regulator, participated when the discussion shifted towards the legal possibility of blocking websites.
Discussions have also proliferated regarding a related interim bill proposed by incumbent casinos, requesting the immediate regulation of the current grey iGaming market within and facing Chilean borders, along with pre-emptive details revealing proposed taxation rates.
Despite the direction of the discussions, there is as yet no official text for this bill, only a preliminary draft which is what has been referenced and received the go-ahead. Subsequent to this approval, The Economy Committee has sent this draft to the Chamber of Deputies to be further analysed, debated and amended.
These may seem like tentative steps, however, these movements are undoubtedly an acceleration of the legislative process, having failed to clear even draft approval for over a year now.
Conflicting issues that eventually led to the ousting of the now-former president of the Economy Committee have meant several pieces of legislation have stagnated, however, the installation of Miguel Mellado means that at least some of the more vital legislative actions may be taken.
By all accounts, this online gambling bill is at the very top of this list. Carlos Baeza, an advocate for several high-profile, Chile-facing gaming operators, has reported that the Ministry of Finance and The Economy Committee have already reached a consensus, explaining:
We do not yet know the ideas for changes to the bill, neither from the Economy Committee nor from the deputies from the Ministry of Finance. We are waiting to find out the agreements in relation to the changes. We hope that within these changes there will be modifications and improvements that we have presented as necessary for the project to work properly.
These agreed changes are as yet unknown, however, speculation has revealed the hope gambling operators involved have for these alterations.
These include removing the proposed exemption of the public lottery, Polla Chilena Beneficenia de Chile, from meeting certain technical requirements that will be applied to other operators who are vying for Chile’s inaugural online gaming licences.
Further complications will come in the form of Bill 14892-29 which has already received full Chamber approval and proposes a ban on partnerships between online betting platforms and professional sports teams along with a prohibition on gambling advertising during games.
The consequences of this can be seen regarding the new online gambling bill in the sense that the industry’s power is relatively unknown and subject to heavy speculation and estimation. A lack of visibility and market share derived from a sports ban could be a blow too large, rendering legislation necessary.
Regardless of this, however, the legislation will now inevitably be brought to the Chamber floor, in the light of an increase in tax revenue from the other markets related to gaming, which are sizeable both in terms of diversity and profitability.
Judging by the bill published in 2021, a tax of up to 20% could be enforced, while even more insight into the currently illicit industry’s profits was provided, stipulating that $50m will be set aside for social initiatives. This could be accompanied by a mandatory 1% gross revenue donation from each and every licence holder to contribute to responsible gambling resources.
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