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Uruguay – New gaming act up for debate in Uruguay

By - 4 April 2016

The Uruguayan Chamber of Deputies could approve a new gaming act by the end of this legislative session.

However the new bill, which would change the way gaming is managed and would also allow for online gambling, is meeting with opposition due to fears that it could increase gambling addiction.

Gaming legislation has become stalled in the parliament several times and a number of deputies including Jorge Gandini (Alianza Nacional Party) have already emphasised their disapproval with Gandini telling press last week of his “total rejection” of online gaming. A number of lawmakers are also opposed to the new act as it shifts gaming control away from parliament to a new gaming control board and the executive branch. It would also grant the executive and the new board the right to give the green light to new games which has traditionally been the role of parliament.

Deputy Oscar Groba told local newspaper El Observador that the government is seeking “a broad political consensus with all parties.” He said that the project, which was drafted by the Ministry of Economy and the National Directorate of Casinos “is seeking the best way to regulate the activity and that control is exercised from a specialised agency.”

According to the draft of the new law, the government is seeking to create a new governing body called the National Management of State Gambling and Casinos (Administración Nacional de Casinos y Juegos de Apuestas del Estado) which would exercise state control over all types of gambling. The new proposals also seek to create a new Betting and Gaming National Comptroller’s Office (Dirección Nacional de Contralor de Apuestas y Juegos de Azar) which would be responsible for the supervision of the quality of accounting and financial reporting of State Lotteries. This body would replace the Uruguayan Board of Lotteries and Pools Betting (Dirección Nacional de Loterías y Quinielas).

While there is opposition to the new act support is growing as it addresses the long running issue of slot parlours outside of casinos which are illegal. It is hoped that the new law will have a major impact on the growth of illegal gaming which has been on the rise in Uruguay over recent years. Although there are no official figures it is estimated that there are around 20,000 illegal slot machines in Uruguay which are located in shops and small businesses. Combined they generate around US$3.2m a week.

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