Argentina is the most developed gambling market in Latina America with most forms of gambling legal and regulated. Argentinians can visit dozens of casinos, bet on horses, participate in sports betting and try their luck in the national lottery. Online gambling is need of regulation, but Argentinian casino sites are numerous thanks to permissive gaming laws that do not prohibit players from visiting offshore gambling sites.
A report by PricewaterhouseCoopers noted in 2015 that Argentina alone accounts for half the gambling revenue generated by the industry in Latin America. That same report found that Argentinian casinos and other forms of legal gambling generated more than $3.5 billion in total revenues in 2015 with growth that shows no sign of slowing. A large economy combined with a pro-gambling population make Argentina one of the more attractive countries for international casino sites looking to expand their operations outside the European region.
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The best casino sites in Argentina are located overseas due to local gaming laws offering no effective means for licensing and regulation. The government has attempted to pass legislation preventing players from accessing foreign casino sites, but that regulation stalled. Players today can choose from a large number of online casinos headquartered in regulated nations such as the UK.
One thing you should keep in mind when looking for online casinos in Argentina is that the government does not regulate the industry. However, that does not mean all casino sites available in Argentina are completely unregulated – the best are licensed in the UK and must adhere to strict rules of conduct in order to maintain their licenses in their home countries. Stick with large, international operators that are licensed in the UK and you can play knowing your money is safe.
Argentina specifically and the Latin American region as a whole are high priorities for gambling operators so there is no shortage of casino sites that accept the Argentine peso and that have Spanish language versions of their websites. See above for our top-rated online casinos in Argentina.
Gambling Laws in Argentina
The gambling laws and regulations of Argentina are handled at the provincial level rather than the national level. This has resulted in a fragmented legal environment with each province free to regulate gambling as it sees fit. For example, a specific gambling activity may be perfectly legal in one province but outlawed the next province over.
To put it simply, the gambling laws of Argentina are a complicated legal issue. Casinos must apply for licenses in each province in which they wish to operate, and that has hampered the full potential of the industry as it becomes a complex matter for operators to expand across the nation.
Although some Argentinian provinces have passed legislation addressing online gambling, most provinces have not. This has also caused problems for online casinos as several have acquired licenses to operate over the internet in Argentina only to have their licenses revoked later as a result of conflicting laws from one province to the next. Noted bookmaker Bwin (now Bwin.Party) was granted a license at one point, but it too was revoked later under confusing circumstances.
These issues plague online casinos in Argentina to this day and currently there are no online casinos permitted to offer their services across the entirety of the nation. Even if one of the big casino sites were to successfully acquire a license today, it would likely end up running into the same type of trouble that plagued previous entrants to the market.
Argentina is too big of a market to ignore, however, so the majority of the world’s big online casinos simply accept Argentinian customers without the proper licensing. This does run contrary to provincial laws, but the casino sites that take this route are breaking no laws in their home countries and have no physical presence in Argentina. Thus, they are pretty much untouchable as far as penalties go.
Likewise, individual gamblers in Argentina are not prohibited from visiting offshore casinos. Past efforts to ban online gambling have failed to pass, so players are free to visit casino sites headquartered in other parts of the world.
Argentinian authorities are well-aware of the problems posed by these complex gaming laws and there have been rumors that regulators are pushing for some kind of national gambling legislation to simplify the situation. Doing so would likely result in considerable investment and increased tax revenues to the government, but it has proven difficult to get every province together to form a consensus.
In the meantime, some provincial lawmakers have taken matters into their own hands. The Provincial Institute of Lottery and Casinos of the State Society in Misiones province launched its own state-run casino site and sportsbook in late 2015. MisionBet.com.ar remains in operation today but only accepts customers from Mision.
It is not surprising that Misiones was the first province to launch its own Argentinian online casino. It was this same province that issued several online gambling licenses in previous years, including the license granted to Bwin (which was later revoked). Mision has been pursuing online gambling for years, but faces an uphill task in getting other provinces to join the party and allow Mision-licensed operators to expand beyond Mision’s borders.
There have been some moves towards a nation-wide legislation of gambling in Argentina in recent times. In December of 2016, the Argentinian Congress approved a national sales tax (paywall) on on all bets placed online or via electronic gaming machines in casinos, bingo halls and slot parlors.
Online Casinos in Buenos Aires Province
Buenos Aires province has taken the most proactive stance in regulating online gambling out of all Argentinian provinces. In December of 2018, lawmakers approved a decree (Decree 181) to legalize and regulate most forms of online gambling. Under the new law, international gambling operators may apply for licenses to offer online casino games, poker, sports betting and horse racing betting. The law received the signature of Governor Vidal several months later to finally make Buenos Aires the first province to successfully regulate online gambling.
With Buenos Aires taking the lead, it becomes likelier other provinces will follow suit. This will be especially the case if the first casino sites are successfully licensed and provide significant tax revenue from an industry that was already operating underground in the first place. Lawmakers in other provinces will undoubtedly take notice of the new revenue source and get to thinking. What happens in the future remains to be seen, but Argentina has taken an important first step toward regulation on a bigger scale.
Wes Burns co-founded OnlineCasinoSites.com with a mission to help gamblers understand and navigate the regulated online casino market in all countries around the world. Wes is a respected gambling journalist, working in the industry since 2008.