Stretching over most of the southern portion of South America, Argentina ranks as the world’s eighth biggest country with a population of 45.7 million citizens. Officially the Argentine Republic, the country uses a federal model and consists of 23 provinces plus the autonomous City of Buenos Aires. With a GDP of $445.4 billion as of 2019, the country’s economy is driven mostly by the manufacturing, agriculture, and services sectors.
Argentina achieved independence from Spain in 1816 after three centuries of colonization. Colonials were passionate about gambling, so it only makes sense the locals also developed a taste for betting activities. Today, Argentines can gamble legally both in landbased venues and over the internet.
However, the legalities when it comes to gambling in Argentina are complex, which largely results from the federal model the country uses. Similarly to the United States and Canada, gambling is regulated by the authorities of each provincial jurisdiction. Needless to say, each province implements an individual approach toward gambling regulation and licensing.
Some federal laws also apply to the sector, which further adds to the complexity of the legal landscape in Argentina. With that in mind, Argentines can legally enjoy various forms of gambling such as poker, bingo, sports betting, lotteries, slots, and casino table games. Let’s have a more detailed look at gambling in Argentina and how the country regulates it.
Laws That Govern Gambling in Argentina
Gambling is generally legal in Argentina provided that the operators have received authorization from the competent provincial authorities. Respectively, offering gambling services without having a proper license is an offense under the Argentine National Penal Code.
Social Responsibility Policies in Argentina
1Responsible Gaming Programs
Social responsibility policies differ between provinces like all other aspects of gambling regulation in Argentina. With that in mind, most provincial jurisdictions generally implement programs for responsible gaming. Argentine players usually have the option to self-exclude if they feel they need to take a longer break from gaming.
Those who already struggle with problem gambling or addiction have access to free helplines where they can seek assistance and advice. Additionally, various restrictions are in place for setting up automatic teller machines (ATMs) on the premises of landbased gambling venues.
3Legal Gambling Age in Argentina
Authorized operations must actively protect minors, fully restricting their access to the gambling premises and the services offered there. For clarification, the legal gambling age in Argentina is 18 years old. Article 13 of Law № 538 applicable in the City of Buenos Aires expressly prohibits games that have a negative impact on the dignity or health of participants.
4Blood Sports Legislation
The legislation also outlaws gambling on blood sports (like cock or dog fighting) on the territory of the Argentine capital. The proceeds provincial authorities collect from gambling taxes generally go toward public welfare and various projects for social development. Some provincial jurisdictions restrict welfare beneficiaries from participating in gambling activities.
AML Requirements Imposed on Argentine Gambling Operators
Licensed operators in Argentina must also comply with the anti-money laundering (AML) policies set forth in Resolution № 199/2011, which specifically addresses the gambling sector. It outlines the measures and procedures applicable to gambling firms that offer chance-based games. The authorized operators must implement adequate AML procedures, perform regular audits, and appoint officers to observe for compliance.
The personnel of licensed gambling venues must undergo special training allowing employees to detect illicit transactions. Payments in prizes exceeding $1,800 are subject to additional checks. Another requirement states that all gambling-related transactions should be carried out in the local currency, the Argentine peso (ARS).
Some provinces like the Province of Buenos Aires, for instance, require the transactions to go through state-owned banking institutions. Argentine law does not expressly prohibit decentralized cryptocurrencies but their use for gaming-related transactions currently remains unauthorized. Debts incurred through gambling are not enforceable in the country.
Gambling Advertising in Argentina
It makes sense Argentine law prohibits the marketing of unlicensed gambling services to residents. Licensed entities can promote their products but the exact restrictions are province-specific. In some provincial jurisdictions, the operators must include warnings about the potential social harms associated with gambling.
As an example, we shall refer to the advertising rules applicable in the City of Buenos Aires under the provisions of Law № 538. Article 12 of the legislation states that marketing materials related to gambling products should provide basic information about the games’ modalities and the amounts players can stake or win. Respectively, individuals under the legal gambling age of 18 cannot appear in advertising or marketing materials related to gambling.
Online Gambling Regulations in Argentina
Players from Argentina face a broad choice of offshore gambling sites that accept real-money stakes in their local ARS currency. However, some provincial jurisdictions have adopted a more severe approach toward foreign remote operators who service locals without proper authorization.
One example again comes from the City of Buenos Aires where offshore firms frequently have their websites blocked by Argentine internet service providers (ISPs). Additionally, the authorities have instructed local payment services companies to refrain from processing financial transactions to offshore gaming sites.
One interesting aspect of Argentine law is that it treats remote gambling businesses based in different provinces as offshore operators. Thus, a website authorized to service players from the Province of Buenos Aires, for instance, cannot legally accept bets from the other provinces.
Estimates suggest the online gambling segment in Argentina generates approximately $2.4 billion in revenue each year. However, the benefits for the Argentine government are almost non-existent as the sector is not fully regulated yet.
Some industry experts argue against the 2021 tax rate increase, stressing the country still lacks proper regulations on a federal level. This would hopefully change when all provincial jurisdictions in Argentina move forward with the legalization process and set forth clear regulatory frameworks.