Uruguay may soon see the launch of its first online casino. The South American country has been eyeing the legalization of online gambling for a while now and has finally proceeded with its plans. However, this decision has sparked a wave of disgruntlement among the country’s land-based industry workers.
Land-Based Workers to Go on a Strike
The National Federation of Gambling Workers, a local union of gambling industry workers, fears that the legalization of iGaming will channel way too many people toward the digital segment. The union said that it believes online gaming tends to be much more addictive and, as a result, may harm public health.
In addition, the federation emphasized that the online gaming sector is often used to launder money. It argued that iGaming is harder to properly regulate, which might lead to a spike in fraud rates.
Lastly, the union fears that the digital sector will vastly hurt its revenues. Since online gambling tends to be more popular in many regions where casino gaming and iGaming are both legal, the Uruguayans believe that online operators will steal their audience.
The federation is represented by some 3,500 workers. Their plan is to go on a 24-hours strike to demonstrate their disgruntlement with the legalization of online gambling. Notably, this strike will inevitably cancel several lottery draws, which is a way for the industry to further emphasize its point.
The federation concluded that it does not fundamentally oppose online gaming but believes that the country’s approach could be better.
Experts Disagree with Most of the Points
However, supporters of the iGaming launch have argued that the National Federation of Gambling Workers’ arguments aren’t grounded in reality.
According to research from other regulated jurisdictions, online gambling isn’t an alternative to casino gaming but rather a separate vertical that attracts different demographics. Some studies have suggested that casino visitors tend to like casinos’ social element, while iGaming enthusiasts are people who prefer to wind down by playing a few games online. Data from other markets also shows that land-based venues aren’t safe from fraud.
It should also be mentioned that iGaming players would often play with illegal operators in case there are no legal gambling alternatives. This causes the local economy to use money that would have otherwise been taxed. This is also attested by the fact that Uruguay has already blocked 1,525 sites in preparation to launch its new legal market.
Despite the opposition from the union, Uruguay is unlikely to change its mind. However, Gustavo Anselmi, the head of the Directorate General of Casinos, admitted that the union may be right about its problem gaming point. He said that the legalization will proceed as planned but added that people should enjoy it in moderation.