With a halt in operations since mid-March due to the mandatory quarantine established by the national government of Argentina, the operators of two land-based casinos in Buenos Aires have asked the federal justice to stop the bidding process for online gambling licenses.

Manuel Lao, owner of the Cirsa subsidiary in Argentina, which operates the floating casino in Puerto Madero, and Federico de Achával and Ricardo Benedicto, operators of the casino located in the Hipódromo Argentino de Palermo, have filed an injunction against the local regulator LOTBA.

This week, Federal Judge Enrique Lavié Pico approved the request and allowed the legal system to continue studying the case. LOTBA is currently receiving proposals from online operators that want to enter the emerging market in Buenos Aires, and this process can only be stopped by the judge.

The attempt to ban online gambling in the city had been previously rejected by prosecutor Miguel Ángel Gilligan and a judge who prevented the legal system from taking on the case. Now, it is Lavié Pico’s responsibility to decide whether it’s valid or not.

Land-based casino operators were excluded from the bidding process, since the current regulations don’t allow them to apply for a license. Due to the lack of income, the online gambling business would be the land-based sector’s biggest competitor.

The Association of the Personnel of Racetracks, Agencies, Gambling and Related (Aphara) released a statement in April in which it warned that the online gambling industry risks thousands of jobs. Diego Quiroga, head of the association, said online gambling represents “serious occupational risks”.