Gambling online in the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina has been in the making since 2018 when their former city governor Maria Eugenia Vidal approved legislation that would have made it possible. However, Vidal’s reign was cut short after being defeated at the polls by Alex Kicillof, who had previously served as the Minister of Economy from 2013 to 2015. And now, local dailies indicate that political opposition is not the only obstacle that online gambling regulation is facing.
Vidal’s plan in regulating online gambling was to keep the activity within the City of Buenos Aires, to ensure that the country can still win the war against black-market gaming and still collect revenue. Unfortunately, local land-based casino operators somehow compelled a city judge to prevent the Loteria de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires (LOTBA) from signing fresh deals with offshore gambling companies looking forward to setting up shop.
Many online gambling operators have been applying for the licenses since 2019, as soon as they were given the green light. In February 2020 LOTBA released a lengthy report illustrating plans to launch online sports betting and casino operations in Buenos Aires as a sovereign stronghold of online gaming in Argentina. At the time, LOTBA explained that it is preparing to welcome numerous products like sports betting, roulette, slots, poker, blackjack, and many more to the Argentinian market.
What led to the sudden U-turn of events? Sources close to the matter indicate that the push back has a lot to do with the LOTBA’s anti-monopoly rules which are still active. These rules forbid land-based casino owners to go online, thus cornering their market.
Land-based casino owners are stressed out that now that they cannot apply for an online license, over 500 employees risk losing their jobs given that online operators could put them out of business. Despite the first rejection of the matter in 2017, federal judge Enrique Lavie Pico has taken the local casino owners’ side and barred LOTBA from making any move.