Buenos Aires, a city that legalized online gambling in 2021 under the oversight of Lotería de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires (LOTBA), is now taking significant steps to implement stricter compliance measures for both offline and online gambling operators within the city limits. This move comes as a response to growing concerns about the adverse effects of under-age gambling on society and mental health.

The Buenos Aires legislature has announced amendments to the ‘Codigo Contravencional,’ expanding penalties for gambling violations. Municipal deputies Paola Michielotto and Sergio Siciliano are at the forefront of this effort, emphasizing the importance of promoting and restricting gambling to individuals above 18 years old, whether online or in licensed establishments.

One of the primary drivers behind these proposed changes is the excessive exposure of minors to gambling advertisements, particularly on digital platforms and during popular events such as football matches. The aim is to mitigate the negative impact of under-age gambling, which extends beyond financial implications and affects societal issues and mental health.

The proposed measures include:

  1. Fines for businesses found allowing individuals under 18 to gamble.
  2. Mandatory adherence to regulations preventing minors from participating in gambling activities for all establishments in Buenos Aires.
  3. Payment service providers (PSPs) must verify adult authorization for payments made within Buenos Aires, with penalties for non-compliance.
  4. Banks and financial institutions will be prohibited from facilitating fund transfers from under-age accounts to gambling platforms.
  5. New advertising guidelines mandating warnings about gambling risks and age restrictions on all promotions in the city.

The gambling and lottery industry in Argentina is currently facing severe challenges, primarily due to the country’s high inflation rates. With an annual inflation rate of 211.4 percent in 2023, the highest in 32 years, the Buenos Aires Chamber of Official Lottery Agents (CAOLAB) has urged immediate policy changes to mitigate the impact on their businesses.

CAOLAB has emphasized the need for competitiveness without state subsidies and has proposed the introduction of in-person sports betting and video lottery terminals to counter revenue losses. This move is similar to the recent development in Brazil, where AMZ Loterias do Brasil launched the country’s first video lottery facility last month.

As Buenos Aires takes steps to strengthen its measures against under-age gambling, it is crucial for parents, educators, and policymakers to work together to ensure the well-being of minors. By raising awareness about the risks associated with gambling and implementing strict regulations, the city aims to create a safer environment for its youth.

It is essential to recognize that the responsibility of protecting minors from the dangers of gambling falls not only on the authorities but also on the shoulders of parents and educators. By fostering open communication, providing education about the potential risks, and promoting healthy alternatives, we can help our children navigate the complexities of growing up in a world where gambling is increasingly accessible.

As the city of Buenos Aires continues to adapt its policies and regulations to address the challenges posed by under-age gambling, it serves as an example for other jurisdictions facing similar concerns. By prioritizing the well-being of minors and implementing strict measures to prevent their participation in gambling activities, we can work towards building a society that values responsible gambling practices and protects its most vulnerable members.

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