Colombia Increases Efforts to Combat Significant Presence of Illegal Gambling

Posted on: April 5, 2022, 05:35h. 

Last updated on: April 5, 2022, 02:28h.

Colombia is stepping up its efforts to diminish the presence of illegal gambling in the country. This week, regional leaders signed a new pact to respond to an analysis that shows the segment controls 30% of the market.

Quindío, Colombia
A typical street scene in Quindío, Colombia. The state is increasing its efforts with the gaming regulator to eradicate illegal gambling operators. (Image: Colombia Tourism and Vacations)

Colombia has repeatedly been at the forefront of gaming expansion in Latin America. However, the illegal gaming market is still healthy in Colombia, and leaders across the country are ready to fight back. Regional leaders recently signed a new pact to reduce or eliminate the illegal gambling segment.

Colombia recently witnessed the arrival of a new anti-illegal gambling effort. The first Pact for Legality entered into force between the country’s gaming regulator, Coljuegos, and the state of Quindío. The goal is to confront illegal gambling through joint actions involving the political leaders, gaming regulators, the police, and the Army.

Coljuegos leads the charge to establish “Pacts for Legality” with many Colombian states as possible. The regulator hopes that, through them, it can unify efforts between different public and private entities to raise awareness among citizens about the importance of playing legally and responsibly.

Efforts to Reduce Illegal Activity

César Augusto Valencia, the president of Coljuegos, said that this pact “implies the commitment to join efforts and reduce this illegal activity.”

The governor of Quindío, Roberto Jairo Jaramillo Cárdenas, emphasized the importance of the new joint pact. He stressed the attention of many people already part of the gambling industry. However, he pointed out that more needs to be done. Jaramillo added that “legality contributes to the economic dynamics of the department, and therefore, the importance of articulation is possible.”

Although it is difficult to determine exact figures, studies show that illegal gambling is responsible for around 30% of all gambling activity.

Legal Gaming is Big Business in Colombia

Nationwide in Colombia, the gambling industry has 382 authorized localized gaming operators (casinos and bingos), 3,032 gambling establishments, 93,321 electronic slot machines, and 17 authorized online gaming operators. The sector also includes innovative games at the national level, such as Baloto, Super Astro and online games. There are territorial games of chance, including regional lotteries and other options.

In Quindío alone, there are currently 34 authorized localized gaming operators with 2,265 electronic slot machines. That equates to about 2.4% of the total number of machines in the country.

That means significant revenue for the state. On average, it collects around US$2.2 million a year from the activity. However, if illegal gambling controls 30% of the market, Quindío, and other states, are missing out on substantial funds.

In the first two months of this year, Quindío removed 872 illegal gambling machines. Crunching the numbers on what the devices recorded, the state lost around US$2.8 million in direct revenue and another US$1 million in sales tax revenue.