Uruguay outlaws online casino games

  • New regulations prohibit online games such as poker, roulette and slot machines
  • Online gambling laws proposed as part of wider fiscal reforms by the Uruguayan executive branch

Uruguay’s Chamber of Deputies has approved new laws that will make online casino games illegal, while handing control of sports betting in the country to the executive branch.

Jorge Gandini
Jorge Gandini

The new rules were brought forward by the country’s governing party Frente Amplio, and make it illegal for Uruguayans to play poker, roulette and slots, and for companies operating in Uruguay to offer these games online. Uruguayans who wish to gamble will be restricted to land-based casinos and state-run sports books.

The rules were brought in as part of a wider-reaching Accountability Law which aims to improve fiscal transparency. The long term aim of these measures is the protection of growth in the Uruguayan economy. Much of the specific detail around how the law will be applied has yet to be worked out, although it seems that there will be an additional level of taxation placed on payouts from slot machines and table games in land-based Uruguayan casinos.

Major turnaround

Earlier this summer many senior politicians had challenged the government’s proposals to increase taxes on casino gaming, with the deputy of the National Party, Jorge Gandini stating that his party would not vote for the taxes.

But in the end, the governing party was able to secure sufficient votes to get the tax rise and the additional gaming law approved. The new regulations represent a major turnaround in government thinking on the issue. It had been previously been reported that the government was planning to fully legalize online casinos, but they may have been swayed by considerable opposition from within the Uruguayan gaming industry.

Last May, workers in the country’s state-run casinos took strike action to protest against a proposed gaming act that would have legalized online gaming, while the National Federation of Uruguayan Gaming (FENAJU) said that such as law would benefit offshore operators who could earn millions of dollars without being controlled or regulated.

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