CASINOS ON THE BRINK OF WAR

Dreams sues Betsson, opens legal battle between land-based and online gaming in Chile

Palace of Justice, Chile.
2022-03-14
Reading time 3:29 min

The Monticello casino, which is operated by the Dreams Group, filed a complaint on Friday, sponsored by former prosecutors Vinko Fodich and Alejandro Peña, which accuses Betsson of illegal exploitation of games of chance. The Superintendency of Gambling Casinos of Chile (SCJ, for its initials in Spanish) stated that it had already sent previous records to the Public Prosecutor's Office.

In January, the holding company Betsson became the main sponsor of the Colo-Colo team, and added the soccer star Iván Zamorano as its official face in Chile, in addition to being the central sponsor of the national second division championship. The gaming company itself stated in its balance sheets that Chile had been one of the main pillars of growth in the region, and was committed to continuing to expand its presence in the country.

This prominence, however, did not go unnoticed by the operators of traditional casinos, who are clear that until a regulation is enacted, online gambling in Chile is currently an illegal activity.

For this reason, on Friday, Dreams filed a complaint against Betsson before the Eastern Metropolitan Prosecutor's Office. "We come to file a complaint against all those who may be responsible in the course of the investigation, either as an author, accomplice, or accessory, for the crimes provided in articles 275, 276, and 277 of the Penal Code", reads the legal action.

Such crimes are directly related to the illegal exploitation of lotteries and games of chance, without authorization from the Superintendence of Gaming Casinos.

"The operation and exploitation of the website www.betsson.com/cl, with also the domain www.betsson.cl, constitutes the violation and execution of the aforementioned crimes", states the complaint signed by two former prosecutors, Vinko Fodich and Alejandro Peña.

"The complaint we are filing, and also the bill being promoted by the Executive, makes it clear that these types of platforms are outside Chilean law. The problem is that this illegality - that threatens the public trust, the consumers, the prevention of money laundering, the payment of taxes - has consequences in the commercial relations and sponsorships that these platforms have, for example, with sports institutions", the corporate prosecutor of Dreams, Carlos Silva, emphasized.

On July 30, 2020, Monticello became aware of the existence of the website Betsson Chile, which offered to the general public sports betting, casino games, live casino, and virtual sports. "A real online casino platform, but without having the corresponding authorizations from the competent regulatory entity in this matter, such as the Superintendence of Gaming Casinos, and therefore the provisions of the law have been breached," stated the Monticello document.

On the same website, it was explicitly stated that the operators of the platform do not have authorization in Chile to operate as a casino. In fact, they claim to be authorized and regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA).

"It is an illicit operation of exploitation of gambling casinos that is developing its activity within the national territory, even when it is an online platform", they emphasized in their statement. The denouncers add that it is advertised to bet on games that are registered in the Official Approval Registry of the Superintendence of Casinos, such as Griffin's Throne and Wheel of Fortune. Such facts, in addition, have already been brought to the attention of the SCJ for its ruling.

In mid-June, the authority indicated to Monticello that they were conducting an investigation on the matter and that they had referred the background to the Public Prosecutor's Office. "Now, with respect to the website www.betsson.com, I am pleased to point out that this Superintendence, prior to the background information sent by you, was carrying out the analysis (...), concluding that it is an eventual exploitation of online games of chance, for which reason it will refer the background information to the Public Ministry for investigation", the authority responded to Dreams in official letter 990 dated June 24, 2021, which was replicated in the complaint filed by San Francisco Investment S.A., the operating company of Monticello.

In March 2021, the international company signed a commercial agreement with the ANFP to sponsor the promotion tournament of the second division clubs. It would then sign as a sponsor of Colo-Colo.

"This online casino of foreign origin has managed to establish itself validly in Chile, signing contracts and sponsorships with private Chilean entities", states the complaint, and adds: "The website does not show who the representatives in Chile would be or the legal entity through which it operates in our country, nor the registered address of the company. However, in order for it to have been able to validly enter into the aforementioned contracts, it must have some kind of legal existence, which shall be the subject of the investigation by the Prosecutor's Office".

In this way, Dreams requested the Prosecutor's Office to issue a broad order to investigate the facts reported to the Chilean Investigation Police, in order to identify the nature of the exposed crimes, as well as who committed them and to establish the degree of participation and development in them. "This complaint is the first step. We believe that other casinos can join it, and then, within the framework of the investigation carried out by the prosecutor's office, this will undoubtedly lead to lawsuits", Carlos Silva emphasized.

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