Chile orders sports authorities to freeze betting sponsorships 

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The government of Chile has ordered sporting bodies and organisations to abide by the ruling of the Supreme Court related to the current legal status of online gambling activities. 

Though government agencies are in the process of finalising a legislative framework to launch Chile’s regulated online gambling marketplace, in September a Supreme Court judgement upheld a challenge by state-owned lottery and pools operator Polla Chilena de Beneficencia, which urged judges to deem “online gambling as an illegal activity”.

The Supreme Court had been asked to settle the current legal status of online gambling in Chile, as the Andean nation’s constitution has no laws to interpret online gambling activities. Arguing on behalf of Chile’s municipal casinos and national lotteries, Polla Chilena cited that the presence of online gambling operators had been a detriment to its business. 

With a 5-0 majority, the Supreme Court voted in favour of the challenge, and issued a direct order to the government to halt access to online gambling platforms until a final bill is settled and processed to launch a regulated marketplace. 

“Online gambling is prohibited by our legal system, which treats debts contracted in games of chance as an illicit object and criminally sanctions those who enable the activity and who participate in it,” a statement by the Supreme Court reads.

Chile is expected to introduce its own proposals on regulating the online betting market by the end of the year, with the government recently agreeing to 15 new articles proposed by the Chamber of Deputies that define which online betting activities should be licensed and which prohibited.

It is understood that the articles were developed by Chile’s Economic Undersecretary Heidi Berner in collaboration with Vivien Villagrán, the superintendent of the SCJ. The articles will become part of Bill 035/2022 – a document drafted in March 2022 and expected to come into force by the end of this year with the goal of regulating sports betting and online gambling activity in the country. 

Ramifications for Chilean Football

Pablo Milad, President of the Chilean Football Federation (ANFP) has expressed disagreement with the ruling, stating that he is currently planning to file an appeal before Chile’s Court of Appeals to try and protect the contracts currently in place between the federation and online betting operators.

Prior to the judgement the ANFP sought a settlement with the government with regards to protecting existing betting sponsorships, whilst a bill was formalised.

In a long-running dispute with the Ministry of Justice, the ANFP has allowed professional football clubs to enter betting sponsorships as current laws hold no legal precedent to obstruct partnership with online gambling firms.

The dispute is recognised as a major hurdle to overcome, should Chile proceed to launch its online gambling marketplace. The ANFP has accused the Ministry of Justice of dragging its agenda on gambling reforms, impacting the capability of Chilean sports to raise much-needed capital via new commercial partnerships.  

The 23 operators deemed illegal to work in the country by the Supreme Court include bwin, Betano, Betway, Betcris, Betsson, BetWarrior, BetSala, Betfair, Betplay, Bodog, bet365, Coolbet, JuegaenLinea, 1xbet, Rivalo, Rojabet, Micasino, Latamwin, Estelarbet, KTO, Sportingbet, Marathonbet and Rushbet.

Betway has already parted ways with the following five Chilean football clubs, which it signed advertising contracts with in January 2022:

– Unión La Calera;
– Everton de Viña del Mar;
– Ñublense;
– Audax Italiano;
– and Coquimbo Unido.

A similar fate will probably follow ANFP’s $8m sponsorship deal with Betsson for the naming rights of the Chilean First Division, which was supposed to last two more years. The Ministry of Justice has given ANFP until September 30 to terminate the contract.

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