This article provides an overview of the key aspects of online gambling legislation as to sports betting and gaming within Argentina. Other territories in Brazil will be addressed in more detail in a series of pieces that will be published in the run-up to our upcoming inaugural event in São Paulo.
Argentina is Latin America’s fourth-largest country by population and has the second-largest economy in the region. Online gambling is not regulated at a federal level, meaning that each of the 23 provinces and the autonomous city of Buenos Aires regulates gambling independently.
The online gaming and betting sector in Argentina is a significant industry, generating an estimated $2.4 billion in annual revenues. To recover from the economic crisis of 2020, the government decided to increase the federal tax on online gambling from 2% to 5%. This tax is separate from provincial and city (municipal) taxes; for instance, the province of Buenos Aires imposes a 25% tax on operators’ gross gaming revenue (GGR), while the city of Buenos Aires has a 10% tax on GGR.
Gambling advertising is also regulated in Argentina. Advertisements must not target or feature minors, and they cannot be misleading or dishonest. Only authorised operators are allowed to advertise their services in the country.
In general, gambling is widely accepted in Argentine society. Land-based gambling has long been regulated with various casinos, horse racing tracks, betting shops, amusement arcades, and lottery ticket sale venues authorised to operate depending on the jurisdiction.
For a long time online gambling was limited to areas with a relatively small population, and whenever it transcended to other more heavily populated areas (such as the City of Buenos Aires), the operators faced prosecution (administrative and criminal)and website-blocking measures – for example, the authorities in Buenos Aires took action against certain Misiones-licensed sites targeting players beyond the province’s borders.
The lack of homogeneity limited the development of the online gambling industry until the second half of 2018 when the two major districts of Argentina in terms of population and income (the City of Buenos Aires and the Province of Buenos Aires) decreed regulation of online gaming and gambling and executed a cooperation agreement in connection with this matter.
Since then an increasing number of jurisdictions have regulated online gaming and the activity is now legal in Buenos Aries and some the provinces, such as Santa Fe, Misiones, San Luis, Entre Rios, Neuquen, Rio Negro, Chaco, Córdoba and Tucuman. In these regions, licenses are awarded to operators through a competitive bidding process. In other provinces, online gambling remains unregulated or prohibited. Overall, Argentina’s online gambling legislation is fragmented and can be a complex environment to navigate for both operators and players.
Unless expressly permitted, online gambling is illegal in all local jurisdictions. As regulatory competence is retained by the Argentine provinces and the City of Buenos Aires, there are 24 competent authorities in connection with gambling and gaming.
All regulators are listed below:
• Lotería de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires SE (City of Buenos Aires);
• Instituto Provincial de Lotería y Casinos de la Provincia de Buenos Aires (Province of Buenos Aires);
• Caja de Prestaciones Sociales de la Provincia de Catamarca (Province of Catamarca);
• Lotería Chaqueña (Province of Chaco);
• Instituto de Asistencia Social de Chubut (Province of Chubut);
• Lotería de la Provincia de Córdoba SE (Province of Córdoba);
• Instituto de Lotería y Casinos de Corrientes (Province of Corrientes);
• Instituto de Ayuda Financiera a la Acción Social (Province of Entre Ríos);
• Instituto de Asistencia Social (Province of Formosa);
• Instituto Provincial de Juegos de Azar de Jujuy (Province of Jujuy);
• Instituto de Seguridad Social de La Pampa (Province of La Pampa);
• Administración General de Juegos de Azar de La Rioja (Province of La Rioja);
• Instituto Provincial de Juegos y Casinos de la Provincia de Mendoza (Province of Mendoza);
• Instituto Provincial de Loterías y Casinos de la Provincia de Misiones SE (Province of Misiones);
• Instituto Provincial de Juegos de Azar de Neuquén (Province of Neuquén);
• Lotería para Obras de Acción Social de la Provincia de Rio Negro (Province of Río Negro);
• Ente Regulador del Juego de Azar de la Provincia de Salta (Province of Salta);
• Caja de Acción Social de San Juan (Province of San Juan);
• Caja Social y Financiera de la Provincia de San Luis (Province of San Luis);
• Lotería para Obras de Acción Social de la Provincia de Santa Cruz (Province of Santa Cruz);
• Caja de Asistencia Social de la Provincia de Santa Fe (Province of Santa Fe);
• Caja Social de Santiago del Estero (Province of Santiago del Estero);
• Instituto Provincial de Regulación de Apuestas de Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del Atlántico Sur (Province of Tierra del Fuego)
• Caja Popular de Ahorros de la Provincia de Tucumán (Province of Tucumán).
All state lotteries are members of the Association of Argentine State Lotteries (ALEA) which is a member of the World Lottery, however ALEA, as an umbrella entity governing all the individual lotteries in the country, has no regulatory and enforcement competence in connection with gambling and gaming.
Buenos Aires (Capital City)
Buenos Aires city is the capital city of Argentina with a population of around 3 million people. It is an autonomous city that is not part of any province, and it has its own government, jurisdiction, and political structure, with a mayor and a legislative assembly.
In December 2018 the city passed its own law to regulate online gambling including casino, poker and lottery games. Under the regulations, the Buenos Aires lottery authority would act as the de facto regulator, with no specified limit on the number of licences available.
It took until February 2020 before the legislation was finalised and at that appointment, the lottery authority set out its criteria for prospective operators, which include a minimum of two years of experience operating an online business and a corporate value of at least US$25m.
Licensees pay an annual fee of US$100,000 and a 10 percent tax on revenue, in addition to a US$30,000 application fee. Initially, incumbent operators of land-based casinos and gaming halls in the city were ineligible for a permit, however, the local operators of Buenos Aires’ land-based casinos (in particular Codere) filed a lawsuit in May 2020 to stop the launch of online gambling in the Argentinian capital. This resulted in a change in the licensing regime in September 2020 to entitle the local land-based operator to make applications.
In parallel to the main online licensing process, mitigation of revenue losses from the Covid pandemic saw the authority granting temporary permissions (under a special lottery authorisation) to the Hipodromo de Palermo Racino and Casino Buenos Aires riverboat casino -both of which launched online casinos in April 2021.
According to lottery officials, there had been 15 applications for online licences as of January 2021, with Codere previously claiming to be in pole position to land a permit after its “platform implementation program” was approved by Lotería de la Ciudad (LOTBA) towards the end of 2020.
Buenos Aires (Province)
The province also enacted legislation in December 2018 for online casinos and sports betting. Operators would be subject to an overall tax of 25% on revenue, broken into three separate taxes of 8%, 15% plus a fixed levy (“canon”) of up to 2%.
The Provincial Institute for Lotteries and Casinos (IPLyC) is the licensing authority and seven online gambling licences available. Applications made by international operators were only eligible when partnered with a domestic company and in January 2021 the operators were announced, with the license holders being:
• Flutter Entertainment
• William Hill
All in all, regulation of online gambling in the nation’s capital and surrounding provinces is significant as the regions together account for around 46% of Argentina’s population.
Argentina’s second-most populous province with a population of around 3.5m, passed a bill to regulate online casino and lottery games plus sports betting in the very last week of 2021.
The legislation mimicked the Buenos Aries style competitive tender for up to ten licenses, with the Córdoba Province Lottery acting as the authorative body.
Argentina’s third-largest province also reacted to the revenue loss from the Covid lockdown and approved a decree in September 2020 to allow its closed land-based casinos to offer online casino games, with City Center Rosario becoming the first to offer online games just two months after the permission was granted.
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