Bwin.party has announced its intention to withdraw from the online gambling market in Argentina, but confusion remains over whether the company is being forced to exit or is leaving voluntarily.
In a statement released last week, the Misiones Institute of Lotteries and Casinos (IPLyC) said: “The regulatory authority for games of chance in the province of Misiones has revoked the licences awarded to Bwin Argentina SA and [local operator] Mil Jugadas SRL for the operation of websites, due to breaches of their contracts.”
However, the director of corporate communications for bwin, John Shepherd, rebuked that claim, telling GamblingCompliance that “contract discussions broke down over the cost of maintaining a licence, so for commercial reasons only, we are not going to renew our licence.”
The bwin Argentine website is set to close in a few days after players are properly notified. Bwin views the market in Argentina as very small.
Bwin obtained a gambling license from the Argentine province of Misiones in 2007, one of only two provinces that allow “remote gambling” in the country. However, there are no regulations for gambling in Argentina nationally, so the legality throughout the country is not entirely clear. In June, a Misiones federal court seemingly clarified the situation by ruling that bwin’s online gaming license is local and not applicable throughout Argentina.
Bwin co-chief executive Norbert Teufelberger admitted last year that, “it’s quite messy in Latin America.” That mess has prompted the company to “[focus] much more on Europe and our entry into the North American markets.”
Teufelberger was questioned by authorities in Belgium last week as to whether bwin was in breach of that country’s gambling regulations. But online gaming companies in the European Union rallied to the defense of the bwin executive, banding together and urging the European Commission to take action against member states such as Belgium that are not complying with EU law.