The South American nation of Uruguay has begun the legislative process of banning online gambling services locally. Last month, it was reported that lawmakers had been considering a crackdown on iGaming. The ban will make it illegal for international operators to operate within the country’s borders.
Uruguay’s Chamber of Deputies recently passed legislation that makes it illegal to play or operate online table and slot games in addition to poker by unlicensed international operators. That bill was a part of a bigger plan that aims to bring better transparency to the way financial transactions are handled within Uruguay.
However, there have been no details regarding how or when the new legislation will be implemented. The only thing we know is that international gambling operators will no longer be permitted to serve players out of Uruguay legally. Lawmakers have additionally decided to change the way legal gambling is taxed. Land-based casinos will be forced to pay income tax on slot machines and table game payouts in addition to their already-existing taxes.
The ban on online gambling wasn’t expected by most. Reports over the last few years suggested that Uruguayan officials were actually debating relaxing policies and laws on internet gaming as a whole. Some thought regulatory framework for licensed operators would have been the logical next step, which makes this move something of a surprise to many.
Uruguay has been a popular target for gambling operators through the years thanks to the lack of regulations. The Uruguayan Casino Control Commission recently reported that stakes placed at local casinos generated more than $6 billion last year alone. That was up 6.5% from 2015. The lottery became hugely popular, as well, generating wagers over $10 billion in 2016. That was $281 million more than 2015.
Some lawmakers reportedly discussed the legalization and regulation of internet gambling this past spring, but land-based casinos vehemently opposed the idea. Uruguay’s National Federation of Gaming joined those in opposition to the idea of regulating internet gaming and claimed that legalizing it would cause millions of dollars to leave the country and into the pockets of the offshore operators.
Last May workers in Uruguay’s state-run casinos went on strike in order to protest an act that would have legalized internet gambling.
Colombia, another South American country, recently opened its own market for internet gaming. Recently, a local operator was granted the country’s first online gambling license from the nation’s gambling regulator. Before regulation began, others from a certain blacklist were blocked from operating within Colombia’s borders.
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