March 13, 2008

Bwin Argentina ordered to close as confusion reigns over licence coverage

Reports that a Buenos Aires court has ordered European online betting giant Bwin to close down its Argentina website have been confirmed by the Vienna- and Gibraltar-based operator.

A spokesperson for Bwin confirmed the story but said the company was licensed to operate throughout Argentina. Bwin holds a licence from the Instituto Provincial de Loterias y Casinos in the Misiones province in the north east of the country, which it says allows it to operate across the country.

Bwin’s spokesperson said: “We are looking into it and will try to discuss the matter with the authorities in the coming days to resolve it in the best possible way. But we believe we are operating legally in Argentina.”

Bwin was the first online gaming operator to advertise nationally in Argentina through the daily newspaper Clarin. At the time, Bwin boss Manfred Bodner would not comment on the story “for competitive reasons”, but the advertisements may have brought Bwin’s activities to the attention of the Argentine authorities, as well as the country’s gambling monopolies. Consultant Tim Phillips of Buenos Aires-based Tamarind Media added that the legal structure whereby licenses are provincial rather than national, leaves advertisers in a potentially grey area.

“The advertising may have brought our activities to their attention,” the Bwin spokesperson said, “while the local monopolies will always try to defend their territory”.