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Argentina – Nationalisation on the cards again in Argentina

By - 9 March 2015

Sergio Massa, a frontrunner in Argentina’s presidential election this year wants to nationalise gaming, put the money towards education and has challenged the government to make gaming state run.

“We need a country with more education and less gambling, so we are sure that gaming must be managed by the state. If they (the government) encourage the nationalisation of the railways, why not encourage the nationalization of gaming?” he said in a statement.

“We need the kids in school and sports, and not thrown in the corner. Education is the best way for social inclusion and to generate equal opportunities,” he went onto say.

Argentina will hold presidential elections October 25, 2015. Massa, according to the most recent polls, is now in third place behind city mayor Mauricio Macri, and governor of the province of Buenos Aires Daniel Scioli. Massa also reiterated calls for nationalising the industry twice in his twitter account saying that Argentina needed “more education” and “less gaming.”

After his announcement the frontrunner for governor of the province of Buenos Aires for the Frente Renovador party (Massa’s party) Monica Lopez, formally submitted a bill for the government to make gaming state run in the province of Buenos Aires.

Although in third place Massa’s comments could well put gaming at the forefront of the political debate and will certainly put pressure on the other two other leading candidates to express their opinion on the issue. Scioli has in the past has taken a more pragmatic view of gaming and has issued licence fees in the past for bingo halls in order to find emergency funding to pay bonuses for state workers. In addition there are reports that he could be looking to green light sports betting in the province of Buenos Aires – home to 15.6 million people or around 40 per cent of Argentina’s total population.
Marci meanwhile has allowed casinos to operate in the capital but has been involved in a bitter long running legal dispute over where tax revenue from gaming in the city should go and has in the past made a number of attempts to increase gaming tax revenue from gaming. While the city of Buenos Aires has been autonomous since 1994 it is the National Lottery Commission which has control over gaming. While a 2007 Supreme Court decision ruled finally that the casinos came under federal, not city jurisdiction both parties have continued to battle it out over who should have final say when it comes to casino gaming in the city.

The possibility of nationalisation has been a growing one for some time. In 2013 a number of local gaming unions began urging the government to put 12 casinos under state control so that the state should reap the benefits of gaming in the province of Buenos Aires. The proposal had the backing of two State Senators who introduced a bill into the Legislature of Buenos Aires Province soon afterwards. Calls for nationalisation began to gain ground after Argentina’s President Fernández Cristina Kirchner began to talk of nationalisation of the industry after her government nationalised Spanish owned YPF, the country’s biggest oil company in the country in 2012.

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