New rules to control online gaming are needed according to Bolivia’s Authority of Taxation and Social Control over Gaming (AJ).
According to the board, online gaming especially via social networking sites and via internet cafes is growing at a fast pace but the board does not have the legal or technological resources to regulate it. As a result the AJ is currently in talks with the national government over the need to create a new gaming law which would allow the gaming board to intervene in online gaming and take legal action against those found to be operating outside of the law.
Head of the AJ Jéssica Saravia Atristain told local press: “We have proved that bets are being generated online where they (the players) are connecting to a server which is prohibited.” The official said that online gaming was often carried out in online betting centres which are disguised as internet cafes.
Atristain told press that Curucusi Games is currently the only licensed land based operator in Bolivia. The company applied for a licence in 2011 and its first casino opened in Santa Cruz in 2014.
Meanwhile Oscar Arce Rodríguez, regional director of the AJ said that a number of online gaming companies were using legal loopholes in order to take advantage of gaming laws especially via mobile phones. “There is a lot of demand for online gaming, which is punishable by law, but we need a law in order to able to to act . . . We are reviewing these loopholes so we can take action on the matter,” he said. Sports betting via mobile phones he said was also illegal but the board needed legal resources and more government backing first in order to intervene in the matter.
“There are norms for sports betting on cell phones and it is not permitted , controls will be carried out and if we find that the organiser of these bets are (based) in Bolivia then they will be punished,” he said.
Bolivia has been slow to act when it comes to the regulation of both online and land based gaming. In 2012 the government conducted a wide ranging study into the issue of online gaming and looked into how gaming was being regulated in other jurisdictions such as in Europe and Latin America. However, the government took no action on the issue after the publication of the report and the report made no mention on how online gaming could be regulated locally.
The government has also been slow to regulate the land based sector. While Congress finally managed to pass a new gaming act, which allows the central government to reap 70 per cent of the tax income generated by gaming and gives the government total control over the industry via the newly established gaming board, the first licence wasn’t handed out until 2014.