Headed to lower house

Uruguay's Senate approves bill to regulate online gambling

Reading time 1:34 min

Last Thursday, the Senate's Treasury Committee approved the bill presented months ago by the Executive Branch to enable the State and the casinos located in Uruguay to operate online gambling.

This initiative had been defined as a "priority" by the senators of the National Party, since (among other things) the demand for online gambling has grown as a result of habit changes imposed by the pandemic.

Likewise, it was a proposal that sought to help unblock the millionaire investment made by the Italian businessman Giuseppe Cipriani in the popular destination Punta del Este, where he seeks to build a new hotel-casino, as well as to obtain a license to offer digital betting services.

The debate ended with the vote of all the parties. The negotiation also involved contributions made by the Frente Amplio (Broad Front) party, as explained to the website El País by Alejandro Sánchez, senator of the Movimiento de Participación Popular (Popular Participation Movement).

Among other contributions, the legislator said that the opposition managed to include an article that mandates the National Directorate of Casinos to finance a fund to treat gambling addiction with 5% of its gross profits. "Because worldwide, whenever internet gambling is enabled, gambling addiction increases," said Sanchez, who recalled that the opposition had "a critical view" of this initiative at the beginning, a position that changed due to the openness of the ruling party to include amendments.

In this regard, the Frente Amplio party also managed for the articles to include another obligation for the National Directorate of Casinos, which calls for the establishment of "responsible gambling" policies, in order to standardize the criteria by which all the casinos of the country must remove and control those players who experience gambling harm. "The State will have to be responsible for setting those policies," said the opposing legislator, who regretted that a prohibition of "advertising for bonuses" was not included.

When the initiative reaches the Chamber of Deputies, however, the government coalition will have to face an internal discussion, because in the Cabildo Abierto party there are several "objections" to this project. Congressman Sebastián Cal, who had already been critical of this proposal, now emphasized that the provision requiring contributions to a fund to treat gambling addiction "is not enough," and that he does not agree with the fact that more controls on gambling advertising are not required.

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