American gambling: Discussions over legalization in El Salvador and Argentina


El Salvador

The Ministry of Finance of the Central American country has presented a new law to the Legislative Assembly. It would provide the National Lottery (LNB) with the right to both oversee and run sports betting and online casinos nationwide. According to the bill the National Lottery will be able to grant licenses that would be valid for ten years and revoke them in case of any violations. Additional revenue is planned to be used for health and social programs.

If the bill will turn into law the National lottery will regulate traditional, instant, electronic lotteries along with sports betting, online casino (bingo, slots, card games, and roulette), and any other type of gambling which “may arise in the future”. Fees are to be determined in the near future. According to the bill an operator that has not been granted a license within six months will be considered illegal.

Casinos started to operate in El Salvador in the mid 90s. Licenses were granted by local mayors, who were also in charge of taxation. However, the Legislative Assembly have long been arguing this issue stating that casinos should either be banned or regulated via a centralized system.


Ivan Kurochkin’s comments

In the modern approach to the legalization and regulation of gambling, the unification of all verticals under one regulator is a common occasion. Among the established gambling jurisdictions that adhere to this concept are the UK, Norway, and recently — Ukraine, who adopted the Gambling Law in 2020 that provided for the creation of the unified gambling regulator in the country.

The emerging gambling regulations often require revision, taking into consideration the input from gambling operators, as well as the peculiarities of the country and its culture, in order to maintain a balance of interests for the state, operators and players. For the full-fledged development of gambling legislation, a single government authority responsible for the process is vital. In many cases, such authority is the gambling regulator.

We believe that a single regulator, consisting of people deeply immersed in the problems of the existing industry, will allow for a productive dialogue with operators to improve the gambling regulation.

I would dare to assume that a single regulator will take over part of the regulatory functions currently available to local authorities, however, one should not expect a complete abolition of the functions of local authorities in the regulation of gambling, which, most likely, will be given some freedom in regulating some local aspects with regards to gambling on the corresponding territory, as is done in many jurisdictions where there is a territorial division into provinces, counties, and regions, for example, Germany, where regulatory functions are shared between the state and the federal level.

We support the initiative to unite all verticals of gambling under one regulator and hope that the new entity will include professionals who will be able to build a productive dialogue with all the industry stakeholders in a sensible and open fashion.


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