Safer gambling in LatAm: Can markets raise standards as they regulate?
Gambling is illegal in Cuba, Argentina, Uruguay and Mexico. Colombia regulated both land-based and online gambling in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic hit, forcing retail to close and leaving players to continue gambling online. Good gambling regulation extends beyond taxation. It includes implementing responsible gambling systems and player safeguards. It is more complex than duplicating the European framework.
Argentina could be the benchmark for consumer protection in Latin America. The country allows gambling as long as it is authorised by a competent authority. It's up to the 23 provinces to regulate gambling. ALEA is the umbrella association for provincial lotteries. They are vocal about issues, including the federal tax increase announced in November 2020. ALEa devotes a week in February to spreading awareness across Argentina towards Responsible Gambling. On 10 June, it released a Code for Responsibly Advertising. This year it rolled out prevention programmes and gave guidance tools to players and their families.
Mariela Huenchumilla is a player protection activist. She is also director of corporate RG at SunDreams LatAm. Rodano says technology is most efficient in preventing problem gambling and in intervention. Chile is drafting a law to regulate online gambling. Sundreams is pushing for RG to become a part of public policy. It has taken player safety into its own hands. It was certified by G4 in October 2021. Fusco believes that regulating online gaming ensures player Protection.
Brazilian law is complicated and characterised by loopholes. The framework for the market is yet to be finalised and licences awarded. Online gaming remains unregulated in Brazil. SECAP has promised to launch the sports betting regime before the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The draft regulations contain provisions on RG, which is a major concern for SECap. They want to put KYC in place, allocate some taxes towards a problem gambling fund and show that they've got efficient measures for avoiding addiction.
Language barriers are a problem with the name of the new gambling regulation in LatAm. Juego responsable (Responsible Gambling) is a direct translation from English and doesn't convey its meaning well enough.
The term "Juego responsable" is stigmatised and carries negative connotations. Romero worries that LatAm will follow Spain's anti-gambling trend if advertising continues to be prevalent. Brizuela agrees there needs to more control over advertising. Better KYC could further protect players from gambling unsustainably. Most Brazilians live on the minimum salary, which is as low as £150 per month. In Chile, almost half of problem gamblers occupy the lowest social class. Huenchumilla says problem gambling concerns addicts and those who can't afford to gamble as much.