WHAT HAPPENS WITH ONLINE GAMBLING AFTER ARGENTINA’S GENERAL ELECTION?
While in Buenos Aires City the current Mayor has been re-elected and the award of licenses is more likely to occur eventually, the administration of Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal has made no progress in the licensing process so far and the governor-elect Axel Kicillof will now have to decide whether to award the seven permits available to operate online gambling in the territory or suspend the process entirely.
Buenos Aires Province is one of the jurisdictions with the greatest potential to develop online gambling in Argentina. That is why the entire industry had been following the bidding process very closely, with a total of fifteen joint ventures formed by local and international firms- joining the competition to obtain one of the seven licenses available.
Truth is, as months went by and the general election was closer, although the provincial government held the licensing process had not been dismissed, no progress was made and deadlines continued passing.
Matías Lanusse, head of the Buenos Aires Province Institute of Lottery and Casinos (IPLyC in Spanish) held talks with representatives of many of the license applicants but there is still uncertainty over the future of the bidding process.
Online gambling affects the image of both politicians. While the opening of a new gambling vertical would contradict Governor Vidal’s rhetoric against the industry, Axel Kicillof’s stance on the matter, though more ambiguous, also suggests he plans to set limits on this market.
Is there a chance to resume the licensing process in the next few weeks, before Vidal has to leave her post to Kicillof? Common sense indicates the answer would be ‘no’, as the incumbent government would not be willing to pay the political cost of a decision that would have a positive impact on the new administration.
When asked a few days ago by the local press, sources close to Axel Kicillof said the issue has not been defined yet. Whether he decides to move forward or suspend the process, his administration must have a definition as from December 10, if Vidal doesn’t.
Buenos Aires City
In the City of Buenos Aires, the operation of online gambling seems to be much more likely to become a reality, in the short or medium term, since Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, has been re-elected with a broad margin (obtaining 55.83% of the citizens’ votes).
The licensing process in the City, however, did not enjoy significant advances, with an open market scheme chosen of five-year permits and an unlimited number of operations available. The severe economic and political crisis in Argentina has brought uncertainty and left stakeholders with more questions rather than answers.