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Uruguay – Lawmaker puts forward gambling bill aimed at curbing addiction

By - 13 February 2024

Deputy and evangelical pastor Álvaro Dastugue has presented a bill on gambling addiction to the Chamber of Representatives of Uruguay. The bill aims to establish regulations for the “prevention and regulation of excessive gambling consumption.”

The focus of the proposed bill is specifically on physical casinos, and it has been referred to the Special Commission on Addictions, of which the legislator is a member.

Talking with local press, the deputy stated that Uruguay “is one of the few countries in the world” with state-owned casinos, which “profit from the illness” of some individuals.

“When we have gambling trivialized or normalized, we want to work on breaking that culture, and inform and raise awareness about the harmful consequences of gambling when it becomes problematic and addictive,” he said.

Of the 11 articles in the proposed bill, five directly mention casinos. Broadly speaking, the bill proposes projecting “notices, messages, and signs aimed at promoting mental health and the risks of gambling addiction as a disease” inside gambling halls. It also seeks to remove ATMs from inside casinos and if passed would prohibit electronic payments within them. Finally, Dastugue said that he wants to establish “stricter operating hours” for both public and private casinos.

Uruguay has four casinos and 30 gambling halls: six in Montevideo and the rest in the interior of the country. Of the 34 authorized locations, 23 are operated by the General Directorate of Casinos (DGC), and the remaining 11 are jointly operated by the state and the private sector.

The deputy’s initiative also aims for the State Health Services Administration (ASSE) to design a mental health protocol to be implemented, or for the last week of June of each year to be declared as “awareness week on gambling addiction or ludopathy.”

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