Online gambling opposition in Cordoba, Argentina loses first round of fight


Posted: June 30, 2022, 7:31 a.m.

Last update: June 30, 2022, 10:29 a.m.

The Argentine province of Cordoba wants to introduce online gambling like other provinces, but faces resistance within political ranks. A judge dismissed the opposition’s attempt to block the effort. But the fight is far from over.

Civic Center of Cordoba, Argentina
The Civic Center in Cordoba, Argentina. The province wants to introduce online gambling, but political resistance is strong. (Picture: Pinterest)

A judge has rejected the legal presentation made by 11 opposition councilors when they asked him to stop online gambling in the provincial capital of Cordoba. They argued that the measure violated applicable law and exceeded legal authority.

The judge didn’t see it that way. In rejecting the proposal, he clarified that if the municipality of Cordoba (and not the councillors) wanted to prevent sports betting and gambling on the Internet in the capital, it should be the mayor of the city, Martín Llaryora, who initiates the process. Of course, advisers will appeal the rejection, but that’s just one fight Cordoba faces as they try to bring the game online.

Political infighting continues

The provincial legislature approved online gambling in December last year. Advisors from all opposition parties have signed up to try to stop the advance of online gambling. This raises the question of whether the initiative was purely driven by political agendas.

However, the judge also recognized that the opposition may have reasons to block the initiative. To do so, it will have to take a different approach. He pointed out that there are two contradictory pieces of legislation, one provincial and one municipal. Therefore, councilors could seek an injunction based on this conflict, but not on the allegation that the approval was invalid.

Juan Pablo Quinteros of the political group Encuentro Vecinal Córdoba (Cordoba Neighborhood Meeting) announced that the group will present a new resource to launch the appeal path. The group is the main opponent of the establishment of online gambling in the capital of Cordoba. Additionally, a lawyer representing the councilors, César Orgaz, said they were also considering asking the judge to recuse himself from his decision.

Call for tenders still in progress

In May, the Cordoba Lottery, the province’s gambling regulator, opened national and international public bidding. He initially wants to grant up to 10 licenses, but has the option of adding 10 more in the future. With the bidding process underway, the opposition wants a court to approve its call as soon as possible.

The tender schedule has already suffered several delays. The deadline for submission of bids is August 5. The pre-selection of operators will take place on August 19, a month later than planned.

Finally, on September 2, Cordoba will announce the chosen operators. They will be able to receive their concessions as of October 18.

More legal wrangles appear

The ability to maintain this time limit will depend on how the courts respond to the appeal. It will also depend on the course of another legal battle. A new legal obstacle is added that aims to hinder the arrival of online gambling in Cordoba. The entertainment and tourism company (CET, for its Spanish acronym) has filed a complaint against the Cordoba lottery.

The CET has an exclusive contract with the Lottery for the operation of games of chance in the province. As such, its bidding process violates the contract, the group claims.

Local media The Voz inside reports that CET is asking the Lottery to grant it exclusivity for online gambling. He also wants to discard the need for a tender. The company attempted to resolve its grievances through administrative channels and failed. Therefore, his claim is now before the courts.

The government describes the claim as baseless. She claims that CET cannot claim exclusivity for something that did not exist when the contract was signed. The agreement, he argues, limits CET’s business to slot machines in physical properties.

CET disagrees and says he can prove it. He received his contract two decades ago, and the language specifically mentions that he can expand his operations when other forms of gambling are available, “like the Internet”.

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