Argentine Province of Cordoba Could Issue Online Gaming Licenses, despite Resistance

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Argentine Province of Cordoba Could Issue Online Gaming Licenses, despite Resistance

Argentina’s online gambling segment continues to take shape. Several regions of the country have begun introducing the activity, and the province of Cordoba is ready to join them.

Cordoba, Argentina
Cordoba, Argentina
Cordoba, Argentina at night. The province is the latest to embrace online gaming, but a fight remains. (Image: Lonely Planet)

Lotería de Córdoba (Lottery of Cordoba), the province’s gaming regulator, reported last Friday that it had opened a national and international public license tender. As many as 10 licenses are available initially. However, as an exclusive requirement, the interested parties must have their legal domicile in the province of Cordoba.

In the last legislative session of 2021, the Unicameral Legislature of Cordoba approved the law that establishes the online gambling regulations. That approval came in just under the wire, arriving on December 29 of last year.

Laying Down the Law

In statements with local media outlet La Voz del Interior (The Voice of the Interior), José Alonso, deputy manager of the Legal and Technical Department of the Lottery of Cordoba, explained the tender process. He said that the Lottery will publish details on the bidders’ profiles and their characteristics on July 5.

At that time, those companies will have to account for the technical solvency and economic and financial stability. They must show a net worth of a minimum of AR$240 million (US$2 million). They must also possess at least two years of experience operating in the online gaming space.

On Tuesday, July 19, the Lottery will reveal the license applicants’ proposals for selection. Beginning September 14, the concessions will be in force. However, Alonso emphasized that there is no specific date for online gambling to begin.

Among the main points in the new laws is the regulation of all virtual games. Lotería de Córdoba will maintain a new “Registry of Online Gambling Licenses,” with the aim of “collaborating with the State in the detection and eradication of illegal games in the prosecution of fraud and criminality.”

The rules also establish subjective prohibitions of access for minors, people who appear in the Registry of Delinquent Alimony Debtors and shareholders or owners of gambling licenses, among others. In addition, the new law enables up to a maximum of 20 licensees with 15-year contracts and provides that the fee will be used for social assistance.

In the vote count, the rules obtained 46 votes in favor, 17 against and one abstention. The entire opposition rejected the project, except for the five legislators who promoted it.

No Clear Path to the Finish Line

There is definite friction among lawmakers over the Lottery’s decision to move forward and almost a palatable disgust by some who want to block the initiative. The approval of the laws that regulate online gambling sparked several controversies, from internal politics to an attempt by a group of councilors of the capital of Cordoba to prohibit the arrival of online gambling in that city.

Cordoba, in 2005, approved an ordinance that prohibited the installation of casinos, bingo operations, lotteries, slots and all other types of gambling. However, in 2009, lawmakers killed that ordinance. This was so they could add it to the Code of Public Events (Municipal Ordinance 11,684). The latter is still in force today.

When the Lottery of Cordoba began its push for online casinos, there was immediate opposition. Anti-gambling pundits, backed by some lawmakers, accused the Lottery of breaking the law. However, Cordoba proceeded to introduce the regulations.

This doesn’t mean the fight is over, however. First, Cordoba’s General Legislation Committee will review the bill. It will then go to the legislative precinct for a vote. As a result, there exists the possibility that an official suspension may arise.

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