The regulatory terrain in Latin America has undergone significant transformations in the last decade with regulators attempting to create a clearer legislative framework for the land based sector while combating illegal gambling.
Despite this illegal gaming remains a major issue, particularly in Colombia where it accounts for around 20 percent of the market; in Brazil where the “Animal Game,” a street lottery, is an ingrained part of the national culture; and in Chile, Mexico and Uruguay, among others, where unregulated slot machine parlours are an ongoing issue.
“It’s a very worrying statistic [that] in Chile there are over 300,000 illegal slot machines which represent 27 percent of the total of the gambling revenue for the entire country,” said Luis Gama, president of CIBELAE, an Iberoamerican body representing 50 state lotteries.
States should understand that if they do not regulate gaming, others will step into the space created by that lack of regulation.
Speaking at this June’s Juegos Miami, Gama, argued that the solution to illegal gambling is through better regulation rather than blanket prohibition.
“The good thing about having taken more time to regulate our gambling industry than other parts of the world is that we can learn from [other countries’] experiences and adapt what has worked elsewhere to our specific market situation,” he said.
“Prohibiting gambling is political chicanery, there is not a country in the world where gambling does not occur, while the argument for prohibiting it might seem appealing, in reality we know that gambling is happening everywhere irrespective of its legality.
“States should understand that if they do not regulate gaming, others will step into the space created by that lack of regulation.”
Underlining the importance of political support for regulation, Gama, who is also the director of Uruguay’s national lottery, made reference to the situation in which Uruguayan lobbyists have presented a bill to prohibit and penalise illegal gambling but have encountered insufficient parliamentary consensus to have it approved.