Chile approves online gambling in bet to offset COVID-19 losses

By Hayley Grammer

Chilean undersecretary of finance, Francisco Moreno, announced on Tuesday that the government will send a transitory bill to Congress proposing the automatic renewals of 14 casino operating licenses scheduled to expire this year.

The renewal would also grant the casinos permission to develop ‘remote gaming’ platforms to help offset COVID-19 struggles, but these would be strictly geo-fenced. Moreno added that he didn’t want the permit renewal process “to be carried out under adverse conditions that will end up affecting municipal revenues for the next 15 years”.

In exchange, Moreno wants casinos to agree to a 5% increase in their gross income tax rate, totalling 25% during the 12-month extension.

This comes after government announced last week that casinos might not be reopened until September or October this year.

All 26 of Chile’s casinos were forced to close shop in mid-March due to the global pandemic.

This has been especially difficult on those casinos operated by local governments that rely heavily on gaming revenue in their operating budgets, some deriving more than half from casino-generated income.

The Superintendencia de Casinos de Juego, a regulatory body responsible for supervising provisions and operations of gaming casinos in Chile, have publicly lobbied for casinos to be permitted to operate online, provided that government creates “an effective tax and regulatory framework”.


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