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Uruguay – Uruguay makes move to block offshore operators

By - 16 February 2018

The Director of Lotteries and Quinielas (DNLQ), Luis Gama has announced that the agency is working together with a number of different organisations to detect online gambling sites, and announced that “blocking of several of these pages will be effective” in the next few days. Regulations in force in the country prohibit any type of betting not specifically authorized by law.

The working group is made up of members of the Communications Services Regulatory Unit (URSEC), telephone companies, credit card companies and the Central Bank of Uruguay (BCU).

The DNLQ has already compiled a list of sites where Uruguayans can play online which will now be blocked, Gama told local daily El País. Although the prohibition of bets not authorized by the State derives from previous legislation this has been reinforced in recent months via both an executive decree as well two articles included in the new Accountability Law, which was put forward by the Executive branch. The law is designed to balance the federal budget and support the country’s projected growth, and impacts both individuals and companies.

According to the law “the provision of services through the Internet, technological platforms and computer applications, referred to online gambling or betting” is now illegal.

The official made clear that the only online gaming platform currently allowed is via Supermatch. Supermatch, which went live in October 2005, is the first and only officially sanctioned sports betting site in Uruguay. The site, which is locally run and was developed locally, allows Uruguayans to bet on a number of sporting events including football from a number of leagues around the world. The Supermatch sports betting game achieved the most growth for games run by the DNLQ in 2017: a total of $1,700m (US$ 59.3m) was bet on the game tripling the record for previous years.

Gama also said that after blocking illegal websites and “cleaning up the offer” of online betting, the State might look into the possibility of a tender process for more online gaming licences. Gama said that the most popular offshore betting sites in Uruguay were Bwin and Bet365. Although difficult to determine Gama told El País that Uruguayans gambled between at least US$10m and US$20m a year online.

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