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Buenos Aires Legislature authorized land-based operators to access online gaming licences

The Buenos Aires Legislature modified this Thursday aftertnoon (24) the law that sets the rules for online gambling in the City and enabled the exploitation of virtual bets by companies that operate land-based gaming halls, which until now have been prevented, in addition to having added a 'clean record' clause, which prohibits getting of licenses to people with a firm prosecution. It was also approved a law for the prevention of ludopathy.

In the ordinary session, the legislators also approved a law for the prevention of ludopathy, which contemplates a package of measures for the integral attention of people who play compulsively and for the awareness of the damage that this addiction causes.

Both initiatives were sanctioned during the ordinary session that had a mixed participation -presential and virtual- by the deputies.

The proposals were accompanied in a disparate way by the official block of Vamos Juntos and their allies in the UCR party in the city, who abstained from voting on changes to online gambling.

Specifically, with 27 affirmative votes from Vamos Juntos and the sector from Roberto Lavagna; 25 abstentions from the Frente de Todos and the UCR; and five votes against, from the Left wing and the GEN, a resolution from the Lottery of the City of Buenos Aires (Lotba) was ratified with respect to the regulations on online gaming.

Strictly speaking, the betting system through virtual platforms, approved by law in 2018, has not yet started operating in Argentina’s capital city, something that could happen in the last quarter of this year, after the endorsement granted this Thursday by the Legislature.

By October, it is stipulated that the permits - which have already been requested by at least six companies - will begin to be delivered for the exploitation of this type of gambling, on which the City Government intends to collect about 500 million pesos  (US$6.6m) per year in taxes.

For this, Lotba resolved to withdraw the current prohibition that prevents those who already have licenses for land-based gambling rooms, such as the Palermo Hippodrome and the Floating Casino, from being able to access a permit for the exploitation of online gambling.

The previous rule prevented firms with face-to-face licenses from obtaining participation in online gaming to "avoid concentration."

However, the impact of activity under this modality due to the coronavirus pandemic, which caused the activity to cease since March, prompted the request from companies to be included in the online gaming sector.

On the other hand, the concept of "clean record" was incorporated into the current regulation to expand the current disqualifications regarding applicants to access a permit for the exploitation of gambling, which among its dozens of impediments includes convicted persons for crimes against public administration.

In this case, people "with firm prosecution or trial for crimes such as trafficking in persons, terrorism or drug, human or weapon trafficking, or money laundering or for crimes included in the Inter-American Convention against Corruption or those where the taxpayer is the Public Administration were added."

As explained by legislative sources, the second reform was requested by the legislators of Confianza Pública, who respond at the national level to Graciela Ocaña; and by the Coalición Cívica (CC), who are referenced in former deputy Elisa Carrió.

In this respect, the representative of the Frente de Todos Claudia Neira explained her rejection of this clause because she believes "in the presumption of innocence" contemplated in the national Constitution.

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