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Uruguay – Uruguay to strengthen state monopoly over gaming

By - 14 July 2016

The Undersecretary of Economy and Finance Pablo Ferreri, has reaffirmed the importance of the State monopoly on gambling and betting.

Mr. Ferreri said that a new bill now under consideration in parliament will restructure gambling and casinos and strengthens the state monopoly over the industry. In a press conference during the anniversary celebrations of the Uruguayan Board of Lotteries and Pools Betting (Dirección Nacional de Loterías y Quinielas) Ferreri said that the government will continue “with an increasingly strong regulatory role of the state, because there are many resources at stake for people in need . . .The goal of the lottery is very commendable because the resources obtained are used for social institutions like hospitals.”

According to the draft of the new law, the government seeks 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.

“The first article of the draft specifically ratifies the monopolistic role of the state,” Ferreri said adding that the new gaming law would have enshrined within it a number of player protection measures which would help mitigate the effects of problem gambling.

Director of the Lottery Luis Gama also reiterated the fact that the new bill would reaffirm the state’s role in the industry: “We must understand that the owner of gaming is the State which has to regulate and control every aspect of it,” he said.

Gama added that the state had “lost ground” in recent years and said that the government was working quickly to “recover” control over the industry.

“We cannot expect a private stakeholder to impose on us ways of working which have to be ours, and that should have never ceased to be ours . . . There is much to do and we must have the tools for it,” he said.

The new law aims to provide a comprehensive framework which would see a major restructure when it comes to the way gaming is controlled by the state. However the new law has sparked fears that it could give the state too much control over the industry. In May the Finance Committee in the Chamber of Deputies was told by concerned members of the decentralised body the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Competition, that the new gaming act could harm free competition and would create a complete monopoly over gaming. According to critics the new bill presents a situation which is clearly prejudicial to the marketplace operating in a dynamic manner and that the private sector needs guarantees in order to be able to develop their activities freely.

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