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Uruguay – Slot bill put forward in senate

By - 4 December 2023

Senator Sergio Botana has put forward a bill that would legalise slot machines outside of casinos and slot parlours. The senator told El País that the aim of the bill is “regulate the inevitable” and prevent the entry of drug traffickers into the market.

Botana, said that he was confident that the initiative would gain enough support as he has discussed project “with all political actors, government authorities and the private sector.”

The project was submitted last week to the Senate Finance Commission and is expected to be discussed in the coming weeks.

“I spoke with all the actors involved and it is recognized that there is a risk that some groups linked to drug trafficking are part of the business,” Botana said.

The law if approved would permit slot machines in licensed commercial premises, such as pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels, with a maximum of up to 25 machines for each site.

The bill also set the maximum number of slots that can be permitted to operate in the country at 25,000. The minimum number of machines awarded to each operator would be 50 and the maximum would be 500 if the bill is approved.

In addition, only individuals who own the machines that are registered with the General Tax Directorate (DGI) will be able to operate slots and they “must prove solvency, suitability and uninterrupted permanence in the activity in the last six years” from the enactment of the law. The owners of the operating companies may only be legal or natural citizens and must have no criminal records, in order to prevent money laundering and other possible criminal activities.

Other regulations stipulate that The Technological Laboratory of Uruguay (LATU) would be responsible for certifying that gaming programs comply with certain requirements, such as ensuring that RTP cannot be less than 85 per cent.

The law would also the create a registry of slot operators as well as manufacturers, which would include authorized games and contracts, which would come under a General Registry Directorate of Slot machines and each slot would also have to have an identification tag number.

It is estimated that there could be between 40,000 to 50,000 illegal slots in Uruguay. For years there have been long running disputes between The Uruguayan Chamber of Commerce for Games and Entertainment (CUDE), which represents Uruguayan companies operating in the local slot machine sector, and the General Directorate of Casinos (DGC). CUDE argues that they are legal while a number of bills have been put forward to outlaw them in the past.

The latest bill was welcomed by Gerardo Dibbern, lawyer for CUDE.

Speaking to El País he said: “We have been saying for 20 years that we want to regulate (the activity). We are not responsible for the legislative omission in this, we want it to be regularized, supervised and controlled. Therefore this bill is totally welcome,” he said.

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