The Rise of Illegal Online Betting Represents a Complex Challenge for Authorities and Society in General

May 28, 2024 | Online Gaming

Buenos Aires, Argentina (May 26, 2024) — The rise of illegal online betting (cyberbetting)  represents a complex challenge for authorities and society in general. Daily Spanish-language newspaper ‘La Capitalreported Gonzalo Atanasof, president of the Institute of Lottery and Casinos of the Province of Buenos Aires, warns about the growing threat posed by these clandestine activities and demands the “urgent” commitment and support of the national government to “persecute” and “turn off” the sites of bets that operate outside the law , since the majority have dominion outside the country.

In the Province of Buenos Aires, only six platforms are officially enabled , offering a safe environment for adult players. However, 80% of online gambling takes place underground , where there are no controls and minors have easy access.

“Gambling among adolescents is a problem that worries us and occupies us 24 hours a day, it is a priority to pursue it, combat it and it is also something that speaks of what is happening to us as a society,” Atanasof reflected in an exclusive interview with LA CAPITAL .

The official took over as head of the Institute in December, after being appointed by Axel Kicillof at the beginning of his second term as governor. “It is a complex moment due to the deep economic crisis and a very important responsibility, especially due to the magnitude: in the Province we have 10 casinos, 45 bingo halls, 4,300 lottery agencies, 5 racetracks and, since 2021, online platforms,” he described . on his recent visit to Mar del Plata, where he toured the gaming rooms enabled.

The gaming world has changed. Gamblers today gamble at any time and in any area from the quick access of their electronic devices and there appears a global problem: the silent “epidemic” of cyber gambling  and the access of teenagers to illegal platforms, facilitated in many cases by through virtual wallets.

First of all, Atanasof made three central clarifications. First , while legal platforms, identified by “ .bet ” or “.ar” extensions, are subject to strict identity and access controls, illegal sites ending in “ .com ” are illegal and do not require proof of identity.

Illegal sites operate without any controls, which attracts those who prefer anonymity and avoid paying taxes. In addition, these platforms offer higher rewards and allow minors to enter, further exacerbating the problem.

Secondly , he guaranteed: “ Minors play in illegal places. There is no way that minors can play in places authorized by the province.”

And, third, in the Province of Buenos Aires there are six platforms enabled : Bplay, Betwarrior, Betsson, Bet365, Betano and SportsBet, where “there is no way for a minor to enter to play, because they have an identity validation and there is “You have to prove a link with a credit card and in the 99.9% probability minors cannot enter.”

National commitment

The president of the Provincial Institute of Lottery and Casinos stressed the urgent need for collaboration between jurisdictions and the national government. However, he regretted the lack of action on the part of the Government of Javier Milei.

Recently, the Federal Justice of Mar del Plata revealed a thorough investigation that allowed the identification of an organization dedicated to illegal online gambling casinos . There are two detainees, two fugitives and they claim that millionaire profits were made .

These criminal structures, according to Atanasof, have “eight links” in the chain. In general, he pointed out, those who end up being detained are the chargers, who constitute the lowest level, people who find work to collect bets. But, moving up the links in that chain, “the owner of the game appears with an offshore IP, located outside Argentina, mainly in Curacao and Malta,” he stated.

This is where “competition problems arise to attack from jurisdictions and deactivate these illegal sites.” For the official, “it is like a mamushka ” in which, as the layers are removed, the top officials appear with an IP from another part of the world. For this reason, “ illegal gambling cannot be combated without the collaboration of the national government ,” stated the head of the Lottery Institute.

“There are many initiatives that we are carrying out from the Association of Argentine State Lotteries (ALEA), but the game belongs to the jurisdictions. A unified policy must be articulated with the 24 jurisdictions to combat illegal gambling, but it becomes very complex when you do not have the contribution or collaboration of the national government ,” he said.

The official stated that the national government “is not putting this problem on the agenda ” which, by the way, “impacts all provinces and crosses all social classes.”

“The problem denotes great concern on the part of all jurisdictions but also of all leadership, mothers, schools, neighborhood clubs. And from the Province of Buenos Aires we are very busy on this issue, working 24 hours a day to find a solution to the conflict, but we need the national government to get involved,” he assured.

However, he acknowledged: “Today we are having a hard time working with the Nation, because it does not address the issue. Recently, spokesperson Manuel Adorni, in one of the conferences, said that it is not an issue that is on the agenda.”

In that sense, Atanasof stated that “the “commitment” of the Foreign Ministry and Enacom to “pursue illegal gambling” is imperative, with the aim of “turning off these clandestine platforms.”

In line with the raids carried out in Mar del Plata, the official revealed that the Institute works in coordination with the Buenos Aires Ministry of Security and the cybercrime area on this issue.

“We have 93 complaints of illegal sites operating in the province and more than 50 raids have been carried out. But the speed and dynamic that this crime takes makes us always go behind. That is why it is essential that the national government puts the issue on the agenda,” he insisted.

Prevention, the key

The Institute of Lottery and Casinos of the Province of Buenos Aires, as explained by its president, works on two fronts: the persecution of illegal gambling, against which it asks to be “relentless”, and prevention and awareness.

In that sense, Atanasof commented that ALEA, an entity that he also chairs, has been denouncing “all those influencers and YouTubers” who promote illegal betting sites on their social networks.

“What we do is report to block the profiles and pages where they advertise,” he explained and detailed that, in many cases, “we first seek to make a personal contact so that they lower the advertising” and then the corresponding complaint is formalized.

“We have contacted both top-level celebrities and influencers who have just appeared and promote these clandestine betting sites ,” he clarified.

Specifically regarding gambling addiction , Lotería de la Provincia de Buenos Aires has been a pioneer in the prevention and assistance of compulsive gambling. For almost 20 years it has had 10 free, in-person gambling care centers in La Plata, Mar del Plata, Bahía Blanca, Necochea, Pergamino, Avellaneda, Morón, Olavarría, Tandil and Vicente López.

Also, the Institute made 0800-444-4000 available to the community . Any adult, whether a family member, teacher, coach or family member of a minor, can visit these care centers or call that number for free to make inquiries and request guidance on the problems and care devices with which they are concerned. that the Province has.

“We are coordinating a lot with the Undersecretary of Mental Health, because the approach is multidimensional,” said the official and clarified that they are currently working on “modules to go down to the territories to give talks in schools, neighborhood clubs and wherever the need arises.” “for the State to appear, seeking to raise awareness among mothers and young people.”

Source: La Capital mdp.