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Uruguay – Uruguay’s gaming workers protest new gaming bill

By - 15 March 2016

Casino and lottery workers across Uruguay have taken part in a 24 hour strike to protest against a new gaming bill being put forward by the Ministry of Economy.

According to Uruguay’s largest union the Inter-Union Plenary/National Labour Convention, the act was initially put forward by ex head of the municipal casino commission, Juan Carlos Bengoa in 2005 and reintroduced by the ex Minister of the Economy and Finance Fernando Lorenzo in 2013.

In a statement union officials said: “We refuse to accept that two members trusted by the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s hierarchy decide for themselves, who, when and how gaming is exploited in Uruguay, displacing the traditional supervision of Parliament which alone is empowered by law to decide on gaming.” The strongly worded statement went onto express outrage at current plans to hand the market over to “voracious private international operators trying to arrive in Uruguay with the hand of the Ministry of Finance’s Bill.”

The latest resolutions of the union also confirmed their intention to reject any attempt to further privatise gaming especially when it comes to online gaming.

“This confirms the position of the Confederation of Civil Service Trade Unions (COFE) ratified by the PIT-CNT in its last congress, to open a parliamentary discussion involving all sectors of society and to democratically establish a gaming policy which we Uruguayans deserve,” the statement said.

For this reason the union called for the strike to coincide with the conference on online gaming currently taking place at the Conrad Hotel sponsored by the National Lotteries and Quiniela Board. In the statement the union further criticised the owners of the hotel Enjoy as the driving force behind online gaming in Uruguay.

The new bill is set to establish a comprehensive framework for gaming by bringing in major changes to how the industry is regulated and organised by the state in the future. Crucially it shifts gaming control away from parliament to a new gaming control board and the executive branch. According to critics of the new bill it will give the executive branch too much power when it comes to gaming and would 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.

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