Argentine lottery operator launches online sports betting and casino site

argentina-misiones-mision-bet-online-gambling-siteGaming authorities in Argentina’s Misiones province have launched a new state-sponsored online gambling site.

On Wednesday, the Provincial Institute of Lottery and Casinos of the State Society (IPLyC) announced the debut of its Mision Bet online gambling site. The site, which is jointly managed by IPLyC and local firm Integrated Systems SA, offers sports betting, slots, casino games and poker to the 1.1m residents of Misiones, which is located in the country’s northeast.

Speaking at the site’s official launch at the Hotel Maltei in Misiones’ capital of Posadas, IPLyC president Eduardo Torres said the plan was to eventually expand the site’s reach to the rest of the country. Torres said he expects the site’s launch to provide “a chance to start arguing again with colleagues from other lotteries.”

The journey to launching the site was a lengthy one, as Torres said he began discussing the matter with the province’s licensed casino operators shortly after he took the job in 2003, but “unfortunately, our colleagues … acted only against legalized gambling in the country.”

In 2007, IPLyC issued several online sports betting licenses, including one to a local branch of European betting operator Bwin, which used the license to offer services to gamblers across Argentina. The following year, the Loteria Nacional (LNSE), which claims the exclusive right to offer sports betting in Argentina, took the province to court over these licenses.

In 2012, LNSE convinced a federal court to order Bwin Argentina to restrict its operations to Misiones residents. The IPLyC subsequently revoked Bwin’s license due to various “breaches of contract” and the company withdrew from the market altogether.

Torres claimed that while the LNSE was determined to prevent Argentine-licensed operators from infringing on its turf, it was doing little to prevent the roughly 7k international websites offering similar services to Argentine punters. Torres found this approach “irresponsible” and the situation ultimately caused IPLyC to withdraw from the Association of Lotteries, Pools and Casinos of Argentina (ALEA).

Torres said he felt he could no longer “keep up with the hypocrisy” of ALEA members traveling abroad to research online gambling in regulated markets, only to find that “when it came time to act, nobody took over.”

ALEA has been threatening to develop a national online gambling framework for years now, but never quite seems to get around to the business of actually herding the cats representing the country’s 23 provincial gaming fiefdoms.