Chile Chamber of Deputies nixes sportsbook and athletic partnerships

Chilean National Soccer Team
Image: Shutterstock

The Chilean Chamber of Deputies has approved a project that bans sports betting advertising at sports events, kits and stadiums. The initiative, which had the full support of the Chamber, is now headed to the Senate to be reviewed and eventually go through a vote.

“The Chamber of Deputies has approved the bill that prohibits the presence of online sports betting advertising in sports events and clubs, corresponding to bulletin N°14.892-29,” says the Official Document 18,313.

The text mentions the link between “clubs, associations, sports federations, national sports federations, sports corporations, foundations, professional sports funds, concessionaires and related institutions,” regardless of the type of sport.

While this bill directly affects soccer, the most popular sport in Chile and the one with the most sponsorship deals, it also involves other disciplines.

Although Chile hasn’t been a victim of suspicious betting activity in the last few years, the text of the bill mentions that online sports betting profits are reliant on client outcomes, “so there is a fine line in which a sporting result could be manipulated.”

Additionally, the measure aims to prevent the participation of minors, specifically due to the “low requirements” that exist for online betting, despite the fact that Chile doesn’t have rules that provide conditions for the industry.

It also prohibits the participation of people involved in sports organizations, including the ones with shares in sports clubs, to have a direct or indirect relationship with an online betting platform.

The prohibition reaches team equipment and clothing, and applies to athletes, the coaching staff and managers or employees. Stadiums and sports facilities can’t advertise sports books either.

The penalties

The fines range from approximately $12K to $158K. However, if the companies commit the same infraction twice, they will be subject to a double fine.

On the other hand, professional sports organizations “will be penalized by being removed from the register of professional sports organizations,” even if the offense isn’t considered “serious” or if it’s a second offense.

The current situation of gambling in the country was reviewed during the debate by the Chamber, which emphasized that bookmakers that legally operate and pay taxes are not subject to this ban. Currently, the Polla Chilena de Beneficencia and casinos are the only entities that fall under this category.

“Legal companies, such as Polla Chilena, pay taxes and are regulated. Sport must be positive and aim for good values and not encourage betting,” said Deputy Marisela Santibáñez.

Deputy Roberto Arroyo echoed Santibáñez mentioned that except for the Polla Chilena and casinos, betting is illegal and should not be operational. “[Betting] has made fun of the Sports Commission and the Chamber of Deputies,” he said.

What could happen to the existing agreements?

There are different deals in place between major sports entities and bookmakers. Until the end of March 2023, there was no legal provision saying that gambling activity was illegal. As a result, sports teams and bookmakers continued signing sponsorship deals, including social media presence and marketing activations.

In the Chamber discussion, Deputy Juan Antonio Coloma requested the prohibition of the agreements, “regardless of the illegality” of the contracts.

“We need to regulate this urgently because it opens the door to corruption. Subsequently, we should consider approving a deadline for these contracts to be canceled,” he added.