In reference to Supreme Court ruling

Chile: National Prosecutor's Office addresses online gaming operators, says "illegality is not a synonym of crime"

Mauricio Fernández, Director of ULDDECO
Reading time 2:25 min

The National Prosecutor's Office of the Public Ministry of Chile made a statement on the current situation of online gambling platforms in the country and affirmed that "illegality is not synonymous with crime," in allusion to the ruling of the Supreme Court that had declared illegal more than 20 iGaming operators.

The prosecutor's position was expressed by the director of the Specialized Unit on Economic, Environmental, Cybercrime, and Associated Asset Laundering Crimes of the Public Prosecutor's Office (ULDDECO), Mauricio Fernández, during his presentation to the Senate Economics Committee on the activity of online gambling platforms.

"Illegality is not synonymous with crime. Therefore, it is not so simple to say that, because the constitutional chamber [Supreme Court] has said that there is illegality and recognizes it, the debate regarding the existence of crimes to online gambling is settled," he explained.

In this regard, Fernandez said: "There has not been, and I am definite about this, a criminal jurisdictional pronouncement regarding online gambling. There is no ruling in Chile that has established convictions for online gambling. Therefore, it is still an open debate."

Regarding the decision of the Eastern Regional Prosecutor's Office of "not pursuing" its investigation against online bookmakers, the Director of ULDDECO clarified that this decision was made "not because there was no crime, [...] but because of the insufficient evidence to impute in the sovereign decision of this regional prosecutor's office."

He also indicated that there are "two other crimes that continue to be investigated: one regarding online betting linked to the issue of betting on racetracks, which is an activity that does have explicit regulations in criminal terms, and also the investigation for tax crimes, which is also in force."

In this regard, he explained that "there are hearings in the first instance in the Court of Guarantees that are pending and will be held in May," and that after these there will be "a first jurisdictional pronouncement on this." He added that the bookmakers accused are seeking a dismissal for these cases, and that "a debate is foreseen both at the level of the Court of Guarantees and at the level of the Court of Appeals of Santiago."

Mario Parada, General Manager of the Concepción Lottery

"Therefore, we believe that there will be greater clarity regarding the position of the criminal courts on these issues. The investigation is open and there has not been a final decision on the termination of all the aspects related to the crimes that may exist," he concluded.

Concepción Lottery

During the session of the Economy Commission held on March 12, the General Manager of the Loteria de Concepción, Mario Parada, was also present and urged for "a solid regulation that provides the regulator with the necessary tools to combat the illegal market and establish clear limits that guarantee fair and equitable competition"

"Let's not allow the large holdings of international online gambling companies to seek to maximize profits at the expense of our society, leaving those whose purpose is Charity in a defenseless situation," he said regarding the operation of iGaming platforms.

"Today, illegal gambling operators continue with their online offer, without paying taxes or respecting jurisdiction limitations, without us knowing where those resources go and with a clear negative effect for our country, not only economically, but also in terms of health, with a substantial increase in gambling addiction," the official cautioned.

Lastly, Parada urged "symmetrical treatment" for the Lottery concerning online platforms so that they can "continue to fulfill this noble mission entrusted to them." "We recognize the importance of preserving this trajectory and effort, allowing us to maintain our place in this market with symmetrical conditions," he concluded.

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