Uruguay’s executive branch has sent a measure to Parliament that would allow both public and commercial casinos to provide online casino games such as poker, roulette, and slots. The bill, which was signed by President Lacalle Pou, would allow the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s General Directorate of Casinos to operate online casino games, as well as the Executive branch to authorize private companies that already operate casinos, as well as future license holders, to offer online casino games.
According to the bill’s explanatory memorandum, the General Directorate of Casinos should be empowered to “exploit the games that it traditionally develops through technological platforms, with the understanding that a large part of the recreational activity will be exercised -if not already- in the future through them,” given the “progress and significance that internet games already have in the present and will surely have in the future.”
The state runs and owns all casinos and slot parlors through the Uruguayan gambling group Casinos del Estado. Since 1995, they have been jointly owned and operated by the private sector and the government under the “mixed system.” The Hotel and Casino Enjoy in Punta del Este is a wholly privately owned and operated casino. In Punta del Este, though, another private casino is being developed for the San Rafael hotel. The hotel has been closed since 2011, but the Cipriani Group purchased it in February 2018 for more than US$40 million.
According to rumors in the local press, the approval of online games was a significant stipulation for the new casino’s investment in Punta del Este. As casinos shuttered due to the pandemic, online gambling surged in Uruguay, but the government lost out on significant tax revenue as a result of the lack of online gambling rules. The government prohibits the use of offshore sites. Supermatch, the government-owned sports betting monopoly, is now the only online gaming site permitted.