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Chile – Chile to legalise ‘neighbourhood slots’

By - 30 September 2013

The Chilean House of Representatives has approved a request to the executive branch, which would make slot machines outside of casinos legal.

This is despite the fact that slot machines outside of casinos are strictly prohibited in Chile’s Gaming laws of 1995. The law clearly states that slot machines may only be operated in the seven municipal casinos in Chile as well as the other eighteen privately run casinos throughout the nation. The decision comes on the heels of a rapid expansion of illegal gaming of recent years in slot parlours and small businesses.

However, members of the House of Representatives have argued that slot parlours outside of casinos should be made legal. Under arguments that highlight the extent of slot parlours already now up and running in Chile as well as slot machines located in small businesses, lawmakers have argued that a legal framework is now necessary which would enable fair regulation which would ensure transparency in the industry.

The new proposals go in direct contravention of plans now being drawn up by the executive branch. In August it was revealed that a move to eradicate illegal slot parlours altogether had come directly from the executive branch. After meeting with those government departments involved in the industry President Sebastián Piñera had decided that a change to Chile casino law was necessary in order to tackle the issue head on and most effectively.

Illegal gaming has become an increasingly significant issue of late and according to statements released by The Association of Chilean Casinos (ACCJ) has meant that gaming tax revenue is down by as almost as much as 20 per cent.  It is estimated that there could be as many as 150,000 illegal slot machines located in slot parlours with a further 50,000 slot machines located in small businesses and shops.

Known locally as “casinos of the people” or “neighborhood slots” they have been able to grow so quickly as local governments have not drawn a clear line between slot machines and Skill with Prizes Machines. In June the ACCJ announced that it had brought legal action against the Head of the Chilean Gaming Control Board, Renato Hamel. The charges stated that Mr. Hamel had failed to limit illegal gaming in the country.

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