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Online quinieleros: how are illegal bets in clandestine casinos on the web


Highlights: "Cashiers" are intermediaries who receive the money from bettors and exchange it for chips. They work from platforms that are not registered in the country and move millionaire figures. Operating gambling clandestinely can bring between 3 and 6 years in jail. Those who offer it sell it as "an enterprise to work from home", where up to 600 thousand pesos can be generated per month for those who achieve a good clientele. It is an easy and fast job exit for thousands of people throughout the country.

They work from platforms that are not registered in the country and move millionaire figures. More and more people are looking to be cashiers. They are the ones who exchange chips for money between bettors.

Exhausted, after working with the phone all that Wednesday, J. went to sleep around 3 in the morning. At 5 o'clock his cell phone rang again. It's a customer who is calling you. He tells her that he has just transferred some money, just over $ 1,000, and that he needs "to lower the chips now." J. protests in silence, but he knows that he has just started in this and needs loyalty. Without getting out of bed he takes the phone, checks that the guita has 'impacted', gets into the platform and enables 1,000 chips for his client to continue playing in the virtual casino he manages. He finishes and goes back to sleep for a little while. On the other side they are just torn off, to see if a saving plenito comes out before the sun rises.

The scene is told by a 30-year-old who started working a few weeks ago as a "cashier" in an online casino, a new kind of changuita that emerged during the pandemic and that exploded in recent months throughout the country as a 'barrani' rummage, totally informal.

These are intermediaries who receive the money from bettors and exchange it for chips on one of the dozens of gambling platforms that appear every week, a handrail for which they charge a commission, but which requires them to do two things: be available almost 24 hours a day and recruit more and more bettors.

It is a simple but intense business, which grows every week thanks to word of mouth and today is an easy and fast job exit for thousands of people throughout the country. It only takes a cell phone with internet, accounts in a couple of digital banks and a lot of perseverance. Those who offer it sell it as "an enterprise to work from home", where up to 600 thousand pesos can be generated per month for those who achieve a good clientele.

What they don't tell is that it's an illegal business.

"You never know who's playing"

J. is just over 30 years old and lives at the bottom of Tristán Suárez, in the south of the conurbation. He was dedicated to "fluttering" things, buying motorcycles and cars and then reselling them. A few weeks ago, he saw an acquaintance offering quotas to join as a cashier. He never played anything and has no idea, but he was promised he paid well. He accepted and got in.

The business came to him through another acquaintance, who has the role of administrator in megafaraó, one of the dozens of platforms that appear circling on the Internet. This person has the function of being a link with the casino, moving the chips and ultimately functioning as the banker. It is who will pay the prizes that the bettors can draw. Whoever summoned J. for this changa left a blank job in one of the companies that pays the best in the area.

Megapharaoh, one of the most used platforms.

Clarín was able to make a reconstruction of this business based on testimonies of more than 30 players, cashiers and administrators who told the details via WhatsApp and Instagram, or in Facebook forums. None wanted to speak by their real names. Operating gambling clandestinely can bring between 3 and 6 years in jail.

"The most important function of the cashier is to look for players. How is it done? Through WhatsApp statuses, Instagram profiles. It is a little work of perseverance, every day. And then word of mouth, they recommend you," says E., who has been an administrator for a year. He does this during a sales pitch, with which he is trying to add new ATMs to his network.

E. is enthusiastic, talks fast. It offers 20 percent profit on top of the capital that bettors lose. For example, if a player bets 50 thousand pesos and loses them, the cashier will take 10 thousand. If you win a prize of 20,6, that commission drops to <>,<>.

She will insist that the secret to success is consistency. It says to post three times a day: noon, afternoon and night. Also offer promotions, make cards or upload screenshots of payments made to bettors, no matter if they are not their own. An arsenal of guerrilla marketing strategies.

The messages that arrive by Whatsapp and Instagram to invite users to play.

"You have the one who plays you every day, the one on the weekend, the one who plays when he gets paid, the one who played you once and then never does it again. You have to post all the time because you never know who is going to play you, "he summarizes.

The cashier is a familiar face to the gambler, who entrusts his money to an acquaintance, a cousin, a co-worker. That helps the casino have greater penetration through trusted people. He receives the client's money and exchanges it for the chips, which will allow him to play any of the games they offer. There are slots, blackjack, horses, roulette or sports betting.

"I have cashiers who earn a lot of money, a lot of money," E. remarks. I have a girl who is 20 years old and is taking between 200 and 300 lucas per fortnight. If you get about 100 players, per fortnight you get about 50,<> or so," he promises.

You just need a virtual wallet ("or several, in case you close them") and start offering. "You don't need a document, you need to tell me yes and I'll start downloading chips," he says. Before we finish the talk, we already have a profile armed with a false name.

Invitations from administrators to add ATMs. They promise profits in a short time.

The business scheme varies from manager to manager. Some will offer commissions of up to 50 percent. Others with a lower percentage, but freeing the cashier from having to pay prizes. Some even charge an income of 4 thousand pesos to release an introductory course, which is just a YouTube video.

Complaints of scams also appear. They are stories of those who were erased without paying prizes. Or those who promise the "clown trick", a supposed martingale to get the jackpot from one of the slots. There is everything.

What the law says

In addition to megapharaoh appear on the radar,,, Camelbet, magiplay, Bet 30, Win at home, Lucky Bet, Casino 33, Hades or Viking to name just a few of the hundreds of platforms offered on the networks.

None is authorized in Argentina. Megapharaoh, for example, claims to be a registered trademark but does not have a headquarters, a physical address or an email to write. There is hardly one hosting provider in Rosario. Others claim to operate under Curacao or Colombian laws. Or they do not directly indicate where they are mounted.

ATMs share payment comporbantes to attract other users

"Users can easily identify which pages are authorized to operate by looking at the domain of the website; only those that have the extension are legal in Argentina. All the others are illegal," they explain to Clarín from the Association of Lotteries, Pools and State Casinos of Argentina (ALEA), the organization that brings together all provincial entities.

According to sources in the sector, online gambling grew during the Covid-19 pandemic, when casinos and players moved to virtual platforms due to the impossibility of stepping on the street. It was a hurried and somewhat rough move, with a series of gaps where the business lives.

Until that time, virtual gambling was not regulated, so it was not illegal. The regulations arrived in December 2021, when virtual betting was enabled. As gambling is federally regulated, each province determines how it is used and which platforms are authorized. Today there are 17 provinces that issued regulations.

"After the pandemic, a large part of the public not only adapted to consume entertainment through digital media, but also now prefer to do it that way," they add from ALEA.

There are crossed versions on what to do to combat the phenomenon. Some complain that they have left out official agencies (in Buenos Aires province, the largest district, they cannot charge). Others point out that it is necessary to register with the data and a debit card in the legal and that deters the player. In the sector they estimate that of every 7 pesos that are played, 6 go to the illegal.

As with the old quinielero, the ease and possibility of doing so without leaving a record attracts the player.

According to a report published by Playtech, one of the leading providers of online gaming software, Argentina is the country in Latin America where it matters least if the pages are legal or not. Only 29% of respondents indicated that it is a factor they take into account when deciding whether or not to play on that site.

In Brazil and Colombia, two of the places where the game is most installed, those percentages rise to 60 and 52 percent, respectively.

The report also points out the growth of activity in the country. Argentina leads at the regional level the "growth score" (growth table) that measures the use of applications and online games in relation to the number of users and downloads made. According to their data – and only counting the official ones – online betting already generates revenues of US $ 2,400 million in the country.

A WhatsApp group of ATMs, where they denounce a scammer who disappeared without paying.

While many casinos jumped on the business and launched their official platforms, those that were already circulating and had been installed never tried to get right.

"When it was regulated, very few became legal. The rest is incredible, you continually see platforms being lowered, created, uploaded. And they are the same, they change the name and come back," says Patricio Garla, president of the Federation of Chambers of Lottery Agents, Pools and Related (FACALQA).

"They are pages from outside. They sell virtual tokens to a financier who, for example, buys for a million dollars and pays 700 thousand. Then it sells them to its administrators for 800 thousand. There he made a profit of 100,900. Then, they distribute them to their ATMs for <>,<>," judicial sources investigating these organizations told Clarín.

"Betting from the bathroom"

At the local level, ATMs are managed by virtual wallets of MercadoPago, Ualá, Brubank, Cuenta DNI or Modo. The loads are from 500 pesos in some cases and the bets on the machines start as low as 2 pesos. There is something for all budgets.

"I got in to make extra money. It's not that you become a millionaire, but everything adds up to help a little and have something else in the house just in case," she tells Clarín M., who has been a cashier for more than two years. She is the mother of a school-age girl, her husband works in private security. In the gaps of the afternoon, when she is alone at home, she takes the opportunity to work.

Share statuses on WhatsApp with promotions or memes, answer questions and receive transfers to exchange for tokens. It has a network of about 30 players, although the fixed ones are usually about ten, especially at the beginning of the month. He says he earns about 20,<> pesos in his income.

Instagram accounts that offer punters to play on the platforms.

"It's terrifying, it scares ourselves," Nestor says. For 17 years he has been a member of Gamblers Anonymous, the organization that receives and contains those who have a problematic link to gambling. According to him, since they returned from the pandemic, the first stories of addiction to online gambling began to appear in the groups. With an extra factor: many of them are young people under 25.

Among the triggers, he mentions the increase in advertising on networks and television, and the enormous ease of being able to play from the phone: "You used to have to move to the game room, spend some time hiding. Today you go to the bathroom with your cell phone and you're playing. How do you know that, for example, I'm not betting now with another phone?" he says.

Advertisements are another point of conflict, especially with an army of influencers who began to get into the business recommending "their trusted casinos" on Instagram, as if it were another cream, or a place to dine.

For example, the case of a participant of the last Big Brother, who shared in one of her stories a link and a discount code. Clarín accessed that link, which directs to the WhatsApp of an ATM that promotes, an illegal page. On Instagram the influencer has 2.5 million followers and, according to a report by the LAM program, for uploading a story to her networks she can charge up to 250 thousand pesos.

If the pages do not have the papers in order, much less tools to deal with players who have gambling problems. In ATM groups the topic is not mentioned.

"All these people who play me, it's not that they have much money either. They are all humble, laborers," says J., while showing the control panel where he manages the players of his network. "You can control everything. This one charged me 500 pesos, I was dead, they were the last ones I had. This one charged me 1,000 a while ago and already has 4,000 pesos. It's the other way around, he charged me 4,000 pesos and he has 500 left," he says.

G., another administrator, reveals another side of the phenomenon. He says that the business is increasingly difficult, because the number of players who want to jump the virtual counter and become cashiers exploded.

"Everything went up, the money is not enough. So now we are many offering the business, but there are few customers," he protests.


See also

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Source: clarin

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