Executive President of the Chilean Association of Gaming Casinos

Cecilia Valdés: "Hopefully by mid-next year we will have online gambling regulation in Chile"

Cecilia Valdés, Executive President of the Chilean Association of Gaming Casinos (ACCJ).
Reading time 3:27 min

In an exclusive interview with Yogonet, Cecilia Valdés, Executive President of the Chilean Association of Gaming Casinos (ACCJ), reviewed the current regulatory state of online gaming in the country, emphasized that in Chile "there are no grays, there are legal and illegal operators," and expressed her hope that next year a legal framework will be reached that can open the market to national and international operators.

How would you summarize the current situation of the Chilean market today, concerning the legal framework of land-based gaming and in particular the online gaming issue, an area where there are still gray areas and where a more intense regulatory approach is required?

First of all, I would like to clarify that in Chile there are no gray areas: there are regulated and illegal operators, unlike other Latin American markets that do have gray areas.

And precisely because there are no gray areas, this bill is being discussed today in Congress, which effectively seeks to regulate those online operators that are not legal today.

This discussion began a year ago, more or less, in Congress. We have been advancing in several procedures, and this week it should be discussed in the Finance Committee, where the tax issue will be specifically evaluated, which is clearly where the main discussion is.

From a legal standpoint, there have been a series of recent measures that determine that there are operators that today have a legal permit to operate only in the land-based casino market and operators that are outside the regulation, acting in the online segment. How do you think this conflict will be resolved, and what are your expectations, as representatives of the legal operators, concerning what may happen after the generation of a new regulation for the market?

Yes, there has indeed been a lot of news lately on this issue. The Supreme Court issued a categorical ruling, stating that online gambling houses are illegal in Chile, along with other more specific issues about some operators. Thus, the Supreme Court has already settled the issue.

Independently of that, there have been partial rulings by the National Prosecutor's Office in other very specific cases that are being reviewed today. And they are advancing not on the illegality, but on the crime that could be being committed.

It is different when one speaks of illegality and when one prosecutes the crime, because it may be that the Prosecutor's Office does not have the tools to prosecute a crime, but the crime still exists. As an example, we can understand that when there is a murder and the culprit is not found, the case has to be dismissed. But it does not mean that the murder did not occur. I clarify that I am putting an extreme case, but I point it out so that it is understood what is happening in Chile.

Therefore, now there is no doubt that this is illegal. The Supreme Court and several other authorities have said so, and it is within this framework that legislators are regulating the issue and the gambling houses. In this regulation, not only online gambling is affected, but also lotteries and land-based casinos, because the idea is to try to unify certain measures so that the industry may be a little more modern and under this new reality. 

Concerning this, the association today groups those who operate land-based gaming halls, which are the halls that have a license from the Superintendence of Casinos. The ACCJ's intention or aspiration is that the online licenses remain in the hands of the operators that today have land-based casino licenses. Do you see the possibility of opening up to new operators that can access an online license, but that are not currently operating in the Chilean market of traditional casinos?

Yes, of course, and that is the spirit of legislation that seeks to open the market to all those who want to obtain a license, whether they are new online operators, land-based operators that are in Chile today, or those who at some point entered Chile but must complete a year of cooling-off outside the national market to return and access a permit. So the truth is that the legislation seeks to generate a competitive market for all those who want to enter Chile to operate these online platform licenses.

Considering that you as an association have privileged access to Chilean legislators and regulators, what are your expectations at this point? What do you think could be the reasonable timeframe to have a defined, or at least advanced, legislation? 

Our expectation is that this will happen as quickly as possible, because in the meantime, while we do not have this regulation, there are illegal operators that are still present in the market. Customers are still unprotected, and we are pushing, hand in hand with the regulators to whom we bring all our content, our information, and our knowledge so that progress can be made as quickly as possible.

Hopefully, by the middle of next year, we will be able to have a law, and by the middle or end of next year, a regulation that will allow us to open the market definitively and regulate what we have today.

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