n an attempt to halt the spread of COVID-19, the Superintendencia de Casinos de Juego (SCJ) —Chile’s gambling authority— ordered all operators closed their casinos until further notice as from March 18.
Even though online gaming is currently illegal in Chile, stakeholders are calling for the regulation of this channel as a way of obtaining extra resources and let local casino operators catch a little break and help them recover from the coronavirus crisis.
In fact, the recovery period is expected to last between 12 and 18 months, because even if casinos reopen their doors soon, the high levels of unemployment are likely to affect demand.
SCJ says there are no certainties as to the enactment of online gambling legislation. The regulator explained that: "in order to regulate a new activity such as this, we first need to grasp a deep understanding of it to be able to create an effective tax and regulatory framework that is fully adapted to the evident technological advances that would affect its operation."
"To achieve that, we must strive for a balance between an economic as well as a sustainable development that guarantees the players’ trust, protects children and also takes into account the state necessities related to taxation, anti-money laundering and terrorism-financing policies, among other values that must be guaranteed and protected," the SCJ explained.
Government officials had already been discussing the issue before the pandemic struck. However, there is no general consensus as to whether to just allow casinos to operate online or to provide for a more comprehensive regulatory framework, which is currently the favorite option.