After a marathon session, the Legislature of the province of Buenos Aires has approved a law that permits online gaming throughout the province.
The project met with fierce resistance amongst members of the coalition party Cambiemos as well as other lawmakers. However, legislators both in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies voted for the new measure due to the real need to raise additional government revenue.
According to local news portal la Politica Online during the debate the head of Unidad Ciudadana party (a coalition set up to oppose President Mauricio Macri’s ruling party) María Teresa Garcia said that the bill revealed Governor Vidal’s “lack of courage to send a new gaming law for debate” and that the new bill paved the way for money laundering.
Meanwhile Deputy Carlos Moreno, also a fierce critic of the current administration, said he did not understand why the governor was moving forward with the initiative after she had been so critical of the gaming industry for so many years.
However, the ruling party argued that online gambling was already a reality in Buenos Aires and today exists in a legal vacuum. In addition, the party argued that the blocking of offshore operators was impractical and had been unsuccessful in other jurisdictions around the world. The government said that the provincial Institute of Lotteries and Casinos (IPLyC) had been studying rules in place for online gambling in several countries and were using the implementation of online gaming laws in Colombia, France and Spain as models for how online gambling will be regulated in the province in the future.
The initiative was included in the 2019 Budget and the Tax Law put before the Legislature by Governor Vidal. It also creates two new taxes on gambling: one for online gambling and another will 2 per cent tax on prizes awarded by slot machines.
The regulation of online gambling in the province was a decision made in conjunction with the Head of government of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, who is aiming to implement similar measures. The Buenos Aires City Legislature approved a bill last week, which imposes a 2 per cent new tax on the prizes awarded by slot machines. If the city government also gives online gambling the green light then it means that the tax on prizes and taxes on online gambling combined will allow Vidal and Larreta to collect $11bn in 2019 in additional tax revenue.