Buenos Aires backtracks on debit card gaming hall use after problem gambling concerns

Just a week after approving the use of debit cards in gaming halls, the Province of Buenos Aires has voided the resolution after problem gambling concerns.
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Just a week after approving the use of debit cards in gaming halls of the Province of Buenos Aires, the local government has decided to void the resolution after rising concerns surrounding problem gambling in Argentina’s biggest jurisdiction.

Resolution 693, published in the Official Gazette this Wednesday, establishes the suspension of the previous approval signed on March 16, “until the authorized gaming halls in the Province solve the operational issues around the implementation [of the debit cards].”

The canceled measure, which carries the signature of Omar Galdurralde, head of the Provincial Institute of Lotteries and Casinos (IPLyC), was published at the beginning of April and authorized debit card use in casinos, bingo halls, racecourses, and betting agencies.

The government believes that these payments would help fight tax evasion and money laundering in gaming halls. In addition, it would prevent “economic benefits from social plans or programs” from being used as funds, leading to debit cards linked to social benefits not being allowed to bet.

However, the decision quickly raised concerns and massive rejection within opposition groups and even within the ruling party, which decided to suspend the implementation.

The new resolution states that this annulment will be in place “until the operational issues are resolved”, which leads to Buenos Aires opening the door to electronic payments in the future.

“Bingo halls in the Province made a presentation in which they expressed the need to have a reasonable timeframe to comply with the obligations in the administrative resolution,” the resolution reads.

It also adds that they based their request on the fact that the implementation of the debit cards requires “a reconditioning” of the cashier kiosks, which would need to incorporate “new accounting administrative processes” to train third-party contractors and other procedures to monitor the use of debit cards.

To initially approve the measure, the government had the support of the national tax agency, the Federal Administration of Public Income (AFIP), which aims at “banking casinos and games of chance and/or betting throughout the jurisdiction of the Province of Buenos Aires,” as it considers gambling a “recreation service.”