Colombia’s online gambling industry – then and now
As some avid gamblers might already know, Colombia is the first country in Latin America to establish a clear set of regulations for the online gambling market and create a safe and thriving environment for operators and players alike. But things weren’t always like If we take a look at the online casino landscape from 10 years ago, the situation couldn’t have been any different. The progress didn’t happen overnight though, as it took authorities quite a long time to come up with a viable plan that would change the face of the Colombian online casino industry forever and set things into motion.
Now, Colombian players have a wide variety of online casino games at their disposal, from ruleta and slots, to sports betting and everything in between, and they can enjoy complete peace of mind while playing.
Back in time
Although Colombians have always had a visible interest in gambling and online casino games, be it slots, ruleta, poker, blackjack or any other game, especially since the mobile devices became mainstream, gambling at online casinos remained illegal until recently.
There were no drastic measures taken against those who engaged in online gambling activities, but there weren’t any rules or regulations that would address the situation of online casinos. All the problems stemmed from the lack of legislation in the domain. Everything was in a gray area, since online operators weren’t allowed to run their activities without a license either but couldn’t receive a license either since there were no rules set in place.
Attempts at regulating the casino environment go back to 1991 when the Colombian government was restructured under a new Constitution in 1991, and Law 643 was adopted. Unfortunately, by 2001 the entire gambling landscape was controlled by illegal entities that riddled the country for a long time. And although in the following years the income from gambling increased by almost 500%, illegal gambling was still a major problem that Colombian authorities struggled to control with little success.
In 2012, Empresa Territorial para la Salud (ETESA), the authority in charge with supervising gambling activities was dissolved due to corruption allegations, and El Consejo Nacional de Juegos de Suerte y Azar (Coljuegos), the current governing body regulating the gaming industry, took its place.
The eGaming Act
The turning point came in 2016 when the eGaming Act was adopted. Coljuegos drafted a set of rules and regulations that, once adopted by the government, became the new gambling legislation in Colombia. The eGaming Act encompasses all standards, guidelines and regulations that online casino operators must comply with in order to receive a license and carry out their activities legally. Any website that does not meet the standards and doesn’t follow the regulations in place is blocked by Coljuegos.
Even though some operators find it hard to comply with the new legislation as they have to pay a licensing fee of almost $200,000 a year and 15% tax on gross gaming income, these measures have helped increase revenue from gambling activities and provide a boost for Colombia’s economy.
The introduction of the eGaming Act meant that Colombia became the first country in Latin America with a fully-regulated online gambling environment. The first online casino license was issued in 2017, and since then the legal online casino landscape expanded significantly. Right now, Colombian players can simply search for the best licensed online casinos en Colombia and enjoy online gambling legally.
There’s no denying that Colombia’s online gambling environment had to go through a long and strenuous process to get to where it is today, but that doesn’t mean the work is over. There are still many challenges ahead and the gambling industry is far from being perfect. For starters, the Colombian government is trying to address issues regarding people’s access to unlicensed casino websites. It’s not forbidden by law to play at unlicensed online casinos, so there is no repercussion for gamblers, but this represents a problem for legal operators and the government isn’t going to turn a blind eye on what is happening.
Also, the regulated online casino environment in Colombia serves as a stimulus for other countries in Latin America that still have no rules and regulations addressing online gambling activities. As the popularity of online casino games like slots and ruleta continues to grow, so does the region’s potential for turning into a thriving market for online gambling. Countries like Argentina and Brazil that have large populations and a long gambling tradition are definitely the ones that show the greatest potential.
The appeal of online casino games in Colombia
There’s much to be said about the temptation of engaging in online casino games in Colombia. There are plenty of reasons why people choose online casinos over land-based establishments.
First of all, the fact that Colombia created a regulated online gambling environment attracted many reputable casino operators like Codere to the market, giving players the opportunity to try a wide range of quality casino games and ensuring peace of mind at the same time.
Secondly, as more people have smart devices and access to the internet, the convenience of playing casino games from the comfort of their homes proves to be more powerful than the temptation to try the traditional casino experience.
Also, let’s not forget how much easier it is to start playing casino games at an online casino. Online casino operators strived to make the whole process as simple as possible for all players, so the only thing you have to do in order to start playing is choose the right provider and open an account with them.
What’s more, most online casinos also give gamblers the possibility to play for free and enjoy a real casino experience without having to worry about their budgets. As you can see, the benefits of choosing online casino games instead of going to a brick and mortar casino are not few, and the online gambling environment becomes more appealing by the day.