Online Gambling Ban Becomes Effective in Uruguay

A previously approved ban on the provision of online casino and poker services within Uruguay’s borders officially became effective on January 1. In addition to this, a new taxation regime, under which local land-based gambling venues are imposed an additional tax on turnover, also came into effect on the first day of 2018.

Uruguay’s ban on online gambling came as part of the country’s efforts to prevent unauthorized services from being provided to local gambling customers. As from a few days ago, unlicensed domestic and international gaming operators are prohibited to target Uruguayan players with online casino and poker games.

The online gambling ban does not include sports betting. However, it is important to note that state-run lottery operator La Banca is actually the only one allowed to operate sports betting and online lottery games in the country under its new regulatory regime.

The ban on online gambling came as a reiteration of a 1895 Uruguayan law, under which operators providing their services to local players without being authorized to do so are actually conducting an illegal activity.

As for Uruguay’s the new gambling taxation system, it requires land-based gambling venues across the country, including casinos, other gaming halls, racetracks, and betting shops, to pay an additional 0.75% tax on gaming and betting turnover.

More about Uruguay’s New Gambling Regulatory Regime

Uruguay’s new gambling regulations were presented to the country’s legislature last year and received a final vote of approval in September when the Senate passed Law 19.535 with overwhelming support. The legislative piece was signed into law by President Tabaré Vázquez shortly after.

Aside from an effective ban on online gambling, the new regulations also encourage country regulators to adopt different measures, both preventive and punitive ones, in order to make sure that the new regime is observed by unlicensed operators.

ISP blocking of access to unauthorized gaming websites was among the measures to be implemented in case a violator of the country’s new gambling regulations is spotted. The newly implemented regime also prohibits sponsorship agreements between internationally licensed gambling operators and local sports clubs as well as advertising of unauthorized online gambling services across local media. The new regulations were justified with the Uruguayan government’s strategy to limit the proliferation of unlicensed gambling within the country’s borders.

Uruguay’s ban on online gambling contrasts strongly the recent liberalization of another Latin American gambling market. Last year, Colombia became the first country in the region to legalize and regulate the provision of iGaming and online sports betting services. The local market was thus opened to both domestic and international operators interested in operating in Colombia’s regulated environment. Late in 2017, the local gambling regulator, Coljuegos, issued a sixth online gambling license to local operator Grupo Empresarial Geonline SAS.

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