In a scenario similar to the liberalization of sports betting in the US, Argentina’s biggest football clubs and the governance of the Superliga and Argentine FA (AFA) are calling for football to take a cut of the potential sports wagering revenue arising from reform of Buenos Aires province’s gambling laws.
Argentine Superliga and AFA officials have demanded that President Mauricio Macri (Argentina PRO), leader of the Cambiemosgoverning coalition, move to suspend the Buenos Aires province’s approved gambling reform – which will introduce Argentina’s first sanctioned online gambling legislative framework.
Football leadership states that BA’s gambling mandate is unconstitutional as the Cambiemos government formed Argentina’s new ‘National Sports Agency (ADN)’ this January, given the directive of governing ‘all Argentine games of chance’.
Superliga and AFA representatives further argue that Argentine clubs have been left in the cold by the Macri government terminating ‘Futbol Pronosticos’ (pools) having liquidated Argentina’s national lottery operator.
Issuing a statement to Argentine news source Tiempo, Superliga representatives declared that the BA executive had acted without consulting football clubs, whose matches would be wagered on, with online bookmakers further utilizing Superliga club identities to entice customers.
In its complaint, Superliga and AFA governances state that BA’s actions have rendered the new ADN as impotent in governing Argentine sports.
Spearheaded by BA Governor Maria Eugenia Vidal, last December the executive of Buenos Aires approved the province’s ‘2019 Budget Plan’, which will implement a revamped BA gambling framework – introducing new retail/arcade taxes, alongside an initial seven online gambling licenses.
The Budget Plan specifies that BA’s new gambling code will be monitored by ‘IPYLC – the Argentine Provinces Board for Lotteries and Casinos’ – detailing no mention of Cambiemos’ ADN plans.
As a core directive, Governor Vidal has promised that all funds generated from BA’s new gambling framework will be donated to the province’s ‘FIDES – Social Development & Integration Fund’.
Political stakes are high, as football leadership demands that President Macri – the former Chairman of Boca Juniors – suspend Governor Vidal’s gambling mandate, forcing an internal tango between Argentina PRO and Cambiemos figureheads.
Nicolás Russo, President of Lanús FC and a member of the AFA’s executive committee, detailed that the AFA was willing to present alternative plans to the BA executive involving football compensation.
“We do not rule out taking some measures of force,” he said. “It is not serious or fair to use football matches to bet and that clubs do not charge a peso. Nobody consulted us anything…we should be allowed to make a presentation to those who are driving reforms.”
Russo maintains that football governance does not stand against regulating betting, but that sports stakeholders should be rewarded in any future policy.