The Chilean Ministry of Finance has revealed plans to legalize online gambling with an iGaming bill set to be introduced in the first quarter of 2021.
The government has been discussing the establishment of a regulated iGaming industry for quite some time but has now decided to fast-track the process.
The hopes are that a fully-licensed industry will help to generate significant tax revenue while also allowing the authorities to keep a closer eye on operators and protect the safety of consumers.
The bill will mainly focus on online casino games and online sports betting. However, the government also announced plans to introduce a second bill that would help to modernize Chile’s land-based casinos.
Although the details of the second bill are vague, it’s believed that it will focus on updating the current technology in use and encouraging operators to be more aware of responsible gambling practices.
If approved, the second bill will see land-based casinos receive a one-year extension to their permits on the understanding that they follow the new regulations and pay additional taxes.
The introduction of the online gambling bill is in direct response to the coronavirus pandemic that has seen land-based casinos shut down depriving the government of tax revenues.
In a statement, the Ministry of Finance said that:
“Casinos are relevant for the economic development of the country both in their contribution to the financing of the municipalities and regional governments through the payment of taxes and in the development of tourism in the regions,”
“However, both the pandemic and new global trends in the industry require new standards that ensure further development of the sector and higher tax collection through competitive tenders.”
In 2019, Chile’s land-based casinos brought in $670 million and paid $210 million in taxes. Around $80 million of those taxes went directly to the areas where the casinos are based. A new online industry as well as higher taxes from existing operators are seen as the only solution to the current tax deficit.