Why LATAM nations must look closer to home in crafting igaming regulations

Why LATAM nations must look closer to home in crafting igaming regulations

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Cristina Romero, of law firm Loyra Abogados, wants regulators to consider their country's unique characteristics

Latin American nations are committing a “base error” by attempting to duplicate European online gambling regulatory regimes, according to a regional gaming law expert.

Cristina Romero, a partner at law firm Loyra Abogados, said that countries looking to open up their markets would be better served by assessing their own characteristics before developing their legal and operational framework.

Romero, whose Madrid-headquartered company is a specialist in gaming law and has an extensive network of offices across Europe and Latin America, said that those creating gambling frameworks would be better served by looking at successfully-regulated sectors in their own countries, while also assessing which elements of overseas rules could work at home.

Romero will help to give an idea as to the key considerations for those Latin American and Caribbean jurisdictions crafting new regulatory systems when she moderates a European regulators’ roundtable entitled ‘Best practice in regulating iGaming’ at the Juegos Miami event in Florida later this year.

“I’m witnessing a big problem in many Latin American countries,” Romero told TotallyGaming.com. “They are committing a base error by copying models that won’t work in their regions.

“Europe and Latin America are very different. Latin America has a very low banking rate and many of the economies are cash based, while tax structures are also very different. There is also the speed and availability of the internet, which is not the same as Europe, and the sophistication of technology used in the market.

“They should be aware of what they need to tie up in terms of control, and, for example, where servers should be placed. Such matters must be borne in mind and cannot just be copied from existing regulated markets in another part of the world.”

As well as considering internal market features when crafting new laws and regulations, Romero believes that a key consideration should be the effect that an online market would have on existing operators. Many Latin American countries have long-standing land-based sectors, from gambling halls to bingo clubs, and these should not be discounted in the big move online.

“They need to take care of the existing market and not just open it up to offshore operators. In many ways that may impair the local market," Romero said. “Also, some Latin American countries have a very complex tax structure which needs to clarified before opening up.

“I would say also that the authorities need to clamp down on the illegal sector before the regulated market opens. This would make sure that everyone begins to operate legally from the same point, so databases pre-dating the legal regime would be wiped, for example, to make sure no advantage is gained.”

Juegos Miami, operated by ICE Totally Gaming organiser Clarion Events, is focused on the Latin American and Caribbean markets, and will feature all the latest information on legislative and operational developments in the region’s major markets. Juegos Miami’s learning programme will offer debate concerning investment and innovation, regulation and anti-money laundering, with the event also offering fabulous opportunities for networking in the US’s Sunshine State.

Romero said that her Juegos Miami session will be useful for both regulators and operators within the proposed igaming markets, adding that she will illustrate her points with the successes and failures experienced by existing regimes.

Romero said that as well as listening to her and fellow Juegos Miami panellists representing the regulatory bodies of Denmark and Spain, regulators should gather information by reaching out to a wide range of interested parties both in their own country and across the world.

“Those creating regulations and implementing them should not just consider stakeholders within the industry, but must also speak to the media, as they have a very important role in terms of influencing the public and, in the long term, marketing and advertising,” she said.

“They should also speak to experts and stakeholders from within their country and round the world.”

- Juegos Miami takes place at The Biltmore, Coral Gables from May 31 to June 3. For more information visit www.juegosmiami.com.​ To apply for your invitation* visit www.juegosmiami.com and to find out more, follow @JuegosMiami on Twitter and visit the event’s Facebook page for further information and the latest updates. 

* Attendance at Juegos Miami will be limited to senior decision makers (owner, director, C-Level exec) from operating companies (private and public including state lotteries), government and regulators from the Latin America and Caribbean region.

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