As Argentina heads for General Election polls on 27 October, circumstances appear less favourable for its Buenos Aires (BA) province to progress with an online gambling agenda.
Abiding by the tender rules sanctioned by the Argentine Provinces Board for Lotteries and Casinos (IPLyC), nine international operators have formed local partnerships with BA gambling entities, who since June have had no update as to how and when the BA tender will be settled.
Fernando Garita, head of Business Development at Betcris for Latin America, told SBCNoticias: “We have not received a formal communication from the authorities, and we still are waiting for the provincial government to define the next step of the process.”
Playing what seems like an ‘eternal waiting game’, Betcris is assessing its market options and has disclosed that it may pursue a ‘BA city licence’ issued by LOTBA – BA’s lottery regulating agency.
Moving against its regulatory counterpart IPLyC, LOTBA has stipulated that it may launch its own online gambling regulatory framework for BA’s city jurisdiction featuring no ‘licensee limitations or partnership requirements’. However, the agency has not presented formal provisions serving any form of mandate.
Observing from the sidelines, LOTBA’s contrarian actions should showcase to international incumbents what has become a syndrome of contradiction attached to BA political actors pursuing a regulated online gambling marketplace.
Case in point comes from Juan Ignacio Juanena, founder of iGaming Latam Consulting, who pointed to BA Governor María Eugenia Vidal flip-flopping on her authored gambling mandate whilst campaigning for province re-election.
“The Province has seen Governor Vidal go out to the media emphasizing efforts to prevent gambling from growing in the province, something that has attracted the attention of operators and generates further uncertainty since it has been during her tenure that online gambling has been enabled, with the regulation process started,” Juanena explained to SBCNoticias.
International incumbents should note Vidal’s history of turning her back against the sector, which saw the governor eliminate BA’s ‘Provincial Game Fund’ in 2018 having sanctioned the closure of three casinos, stating that the fund’s ‘goal was for gambling not to grow’.
Nevertheless, operator anxieties could be better off monitoring the movements of Vidal’s rival Axel Kicillof, who leads October’s BA governorship polls and maybe the man to settle BA gambling.
Would a Kicillof BA administration pursue or reform Vidal’s agenda on online gambling, taking into account that supporting ‘Kirchnerismo’ the candidate’s Justicialist Party rejected online gambling being approved in BA’s legislature?
Complicating matters further, Argentine football’s Super League and the AFA continue to protest that football clubs should receive a percentage of funds generated from sports betting.
Managing Argentine football through a period of national crisis, the Super League and AFA officials state that funds are needed to improve player contracts, comply with labour obligations and implement compliance and integrity programs within their structures.
Oscar Tucker, vice president of the Banfield Athletic Club, stated: “It is not only an economic issue, but our claim is also part of the need to protect the integrity of Argentine football from match-fixing and corruption linked to betting. Like other first division clubs, we do not rule out taking any measures to ensure that our order is met.”