Although Chile is still working on legislation to legalize sports betting, several operators support the country’s soccer teams. This began to cause friction between the National Association of Professional Football of Chile (ANFP) and the Chilean regulator.

Pablo Milad, president of the ANFP in Chile, spoke at a press conference that he is pushing for a comfortable control of sports betting if the state legalizes the activity.

Operators are an important player in the financing of Chilean football, with many brands sponsoring different clubs.

An investigation by the Center for Journalistic Research (CIPER) revealed a connection with Argentine businessman Fernando Felicevic. This report ‘forces’ AFNP to defend itself regarding its connections and sources of investment.

Amid the presentation of a new security plan at the ANFP and the reports from CIPER, the head of Chilean football, Pablo Milad, acknowledged that Felicievic is a representative of some operators. However, he maintains that these are “private club negotiations” in which the ANFP is not involved.

Milad adds that, with existing laws, the organization must set limits on the sharing of football sponsorship. However, at the same time, he points out that the ANFP does not have to cut ties.

Milad explains that “football is very diverse in many ways and representatives are taking the opportunity to cover all the areas they can legally do. He feels that the legalization of sports betting must come no matter what, but the current environment does not prevent punters from supporting their teams”.

Regarding the presence of bookmakers in Chilean football, Milad said that they are “a great support for clubs” and that they contribute to their economic stability. Furthermore, he emphasized that this practice is not illegal.

Milad indicates that something is only illegal if it violates the law. However, there is no law or regulation that specifically prohibits this type of sponsorship.

Before the Sports Committee of the House, Milad defended his position again. Furthermore, he criticized the bill that seeks to limit online bookmakers, adding that it is wrong to “blame football for betting in one country”.

“If this project is approved as it is, it will force the termination of sponsorship contracts, which would seriously harm Chilean football that has been hit by the pandemic,” Milad said. He added that the income from these sponsorship deals is equivalent to 7.8% of the total received by clubs.

Instead of being banned, Milad wants to see Chile introduce smart regulations. To this end, the ANFP has prepared a proposal in which sport and sports betting can have a harmless symbiosis relationship. If Chile goes ahead with the ban, Milad hopes the legislation will provide some relief.

The Premier League is likely to introduce a voluntary ban on bookmaker sponsorships displayed on club shirts, but will gradually introduce the new controls over three years. ANFP expects a similar launch for three years due to existing partnerships.

The illegality of sports betting in Chile

In turn, Manuel Zarate Campos, head of the legal department of the Casino Supervisory Authority, warned that “the development of online gambling in Chile is illegal”.

Zarat noted that since 2018, his agency has already submitted more than 30 claims to the Public Prosecutor’s Office related to online platforms operating illegal gambling sites. Meanwhile, in May and September of last year, he sent the Self-Regulatory and Advertising Ethics Board and the ANFP reports to inform them of the illegal nature of exploiting online games in the country.

As a result, according to Zarate, the conclusion is that the law prohibits any activity that the government deems illegal. This includes promoting and advertising an activity.

The easiest way to handle the matter is to follow the legislation and make a decision. However, sponsorship offers are unlikely to disappear unless Chile specifically addresses the topic in the discussion.