Colombia is on track to be the first country in Latin America to have a regulated online gaming industry, with estimates suggesting that the sector could generate over $3.3m (E3m) in additional revenue for the country.
“We want [our regulation] to be attractive for online operators, it’s a large market, internet coverage is increasing all the time and additionally one can play from a variety of platforms – mobiles, computers or internet cafés,” said Juan Pérez Hidalgo, president of the Colombian gaming regulator, Coljuegos.
“In the online sector, the return in terms of prize payouts to players is very high, usually more than 90 percent, and all this is an incentive for players to participate in a regulated market.”
Earlier plans in 2008 to allow online betting, either by licensed operators or as part of a state monopoly, were overtaken by the scandals surrounding the previous regulator ETESA.
The sector needs to reinvent itself, especially the slot machine parlours, the new generation – Generation PlayStation – is not content with just traditional slots and that’s why online casinos are so successful
Presently the country hosts over 300 websites offering online gaming, while these are currently unregulated this looks to likely to change.
“The sector needs to reinvent itself, especially the slot machine parlours, the new generation – Generation PlayStation – is not content with just traditional slots and that’s why online casinos are so successful,” said Héctor Orlando Rodríguez, an entrepreneur and member of the board of trade body Fecoljuegos.
“I hope that Coljuegos will prioritise local operators in their new regulation for this sector and that landbased operators, for their part, will [adapt] and learn to attract millennials into their establishments.”
Last year saw a crackdown on illegal offshore gaming with Coljuegos working with the police’s cyber-crime unit and the Ministry of Information Technology and Communications to block illegal websites.
Comments by Pérez suggest that once regulation is established online operators will be required to show their financial capacity and undergo technological testing and evaluation in order to ensure player confidence.