year after being appointed President of the agency regulating gambling in the capital of Argentina, García Santillán spoke to Yogonet and stated he trusts online gambling will be regulated in the coming years, as part of the efforts to combat compulsive and illegal gambling. García Santillán also touched upon the license of Casino Puerto Madero, which expires in 2019, and mentioned that the existing recreational offer in the City will not be increased.
In December 2016, the Legislature of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires divested the Nation of its authority over gambling and transferred said power to the authorities of the province of Buenos Aires, additionally ordering the creation of the Lotería de la Ciudad, which began to operate on 1 July 2017. Under its orbit are the two casinos of Puerto Madero managed by Casino Club and the Hippodrome of Palermo, managed by HAPSA. By May 2016, the five bingo halls in the district had been closed by decision of the National Lottery. USD 33,000 million was generated by regulated gambling in the City during the first quarter of 2018, and similar figures are foreseen for the next three quarters.
"The transfer process was successful, and there are virtually no points of contact with the National Lottery now," comments the president of Lotería de la Ciudad (Lotba), Martín García Santillán to Yogonet.
After his participation in the last Ibero-American Gaming Summit, held in May in Colombia, the official concluded that regulating gambling in an orderly manner is needed and that it must be addressed at a regional level as well. "We are considering experiences from other jurisdictions to understand possible paths to follow, and how we could capitalize on the learning of others. In Argentina we have a great challenge because each province is self-regulating in terms of gambling," García Santillán observes.
Additionally, García Santillán argues that the main challenge was the monitoring and control of the operation on a provincial level while keeping an eye on modernization and innovation.
“ Buenos Aires seeks to be in line with the regional standards for online gaming and sports betting."
Consulted on the evolution of the industry in Buenos Aires, García Santillán states that Buenos Aires seeks to be in line with the regional standards for online gaming and sports betting: "I think that we must address, regulate and order online gambling and sports betting to address compulsive gambling and, above all, to fight illegal gambling."
It is important to highlight that online gambling and sports betting are still unauthorized in Buenos Aires, and the existing infrastructure at a national level prevents them from being successfully regulated: "This poses a great challenge," explains García Santillán.
"Given the characteristics of online gambling, the topic should be meticulously articulated, in sync with all the provinces, since authority over telecommunications and the level of support necessary to be effective should be country-level. Simultaneously, Lotería de la Ciudad is surveying and studying the subject for when the political will needs to make decisions on the matter," he reveals.
On June 28, at the headquarters of the Association of Argentine State Lotteries (ALEA) in the City of Buenos Aires, the "Roundtable on Prevention of Money Laundering" was held, co-organized by Lotba. The difficulties companies encounter in accessing the financial system were also one of the axes of the Ibero-American Summit. "Argentina should have nothing to worry if money laundering policies are well taken care of. Lotería de la Ciudad is aware and leading measures to prevent what Panama or Mexico are going through," García Santillán highlights.
“ At first, we prioritized the normal continuity of this industry. Since then, we have evolved, innovated, revoked or regulated aspects that were not contemplated in the past."
In addition, he expresses his "pride" on the goals achieved to date and the overall commitment to the new management. "We learned a lot and I understand that we are adding value to the employees of the company. We are looking for daily ways to implement the values that our head of Government established for this agency. In this sector, I believe that transparency, austerity, creativity and innovation are values that should be deepened and we are on that path. Of course we have pending tasks and continuous improvement is something that, as a team, we hold very dear," Santillán states.
On May 17, Lotba was inducted as a regular member of ALEA, a process still in the formalization stage. "I think the industry should be addressed at a regional level, and ALEA will be instrumental in that sense. Our agency can be enriched by other experiences, and its articulation with the rest of the country go a long way towards regulating online and sports betting," observes the President of Lotba.
“ In this sector, I believe that transparency, austerity, creativity and innovation are values that should be deepened and we are on that path."
Additionally, April 23 saw the formal broadcasting of technical standards expected from operators. "SIQ and GLI are, until now, the laboratories that kicked off the necessary procedures in accordance to the Registration Standard and Technical Standards promoted by Lotba". Throughout April, Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) would also sign a 12-month agreement with Lotba to provide an array of gambling-related advisory, consulting, training and audit services.
Regarding plans to adapt to the standards, Santillán affirms that both HAPSA and Casino Club are developing their proposals in order to be evaluated within the stipulated dates.
In regards to the Floating Casino in Puerto Madero, which license expires in 2019, García Santillán stated that "Loteria de la Ciudad is not going to increase the existing recreational offer in the City and, in any case, that decision will be up to the City Legislature, "says Santillán.
This year, Lotba also announced different agreements with the Buenos Aires Ministries of Health and Public Prosecution. The most relevant effects of these agreements Santillán lists a
• Training of administrative staff and officials on the prevention of illegal gambling, crimes, offenses and misconduct surrounding the recreational activity.
• Training for inspectors and professional lawyers of Lotba in matters of crime prevention and gambling.
• Unification of legal criteria against the declaration of incompetence in certain federal cases, upholding the defense of local jurisdiction.
• Unification of criteria with the CIJ (Judicial Information Center) to implement at the time of assessing evidence required by the Prosecutor in charge of the investigation.
• Setting of guidelines the Attorney General will require to train the Special Unit in charge of fighting unauthorized gambling.
As for the Ministry of Health, the signing of the agreement will facilitate the development of technical assistance, cooperation, dissemination and training programs towards the execution of research projects, prevention of pathological gambling and other risk behaviors, as well as guidance and professional assistance to the residents of the City affected by this disorder, and their families.