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Gambling in Colombia: Yea or Nay

South America has a rich gambling history, and enthusiast players can indulge in gambling in one form or another almost anywhere on the continent. Laws in South America, however, are notorious for being outdated and old-time standards, most of which were applied during colonial rule.

Parlors can be found in only nine places on the continent, and when it comes to parimutuel sports betting, it's even more concerning – only four countries have implemented the pari-mutuel facilities like horse racing and dog racing facilities.

That's not all of you've thought the land-based gambling environment looks concerning; you should then see the overall betting industry. Currently, Colombia seems to be the only state in Latin America with a fully-regulated online betting marketplace. Yet, that doesn't mean Colombia is the only state where online gambling is thriving.

Colombian's Gambling Landscape -Then and Now 

For many years, Colombia as a state has experienced a toil period of transition. Amid uncertain and turbulent times, it is only normal that not all problems will be addressed with equal attention and a timely manner. Yet, the end of 2015 was the only time when the Colombian government finally provided a resolution to this question.

The aching dilemma that pointed out the need for a healthy legislature was that casino operators were penalized for services, although they didn't possess a license. But the government didn't either make it easier for operators to obtain their license.

By the end of 2015, the government declared that it plans to release an online service following their mobile gambling app by 2016 and would possibly apply for a license. In response to this dilemma, the Colombian government associated with the gambling industry's regulatory body – Coljuegos. They join forces to draft a whole set of regulations in order to make things right.

The new regulations included new standards in terms of technologies, tragamonedas games, and the guidelines that each casino operator needs to comply with as part of the process towards obtaining a license.

Additionally, the proposed draft included references for all permitted gambling forms and even resolved the specific tax rate policy for the gambling market.

In 2016, lawmakers in partnership with Coljuegos signed the eGaming Act. Under these acts, casino operators have since been able to offer interactive gaming, often referred to as tragamonedas, poker, and betting service to the Colombian player pool users.

Coljuegos Allow Online Casinos in Colombia to Offer New Types of Games of Chance 

The Colombian gambling industry will permit, thanks to its regulator Coljuegos, that authorized casino operators are able to market new games of chance that are now permitted and subjected to new regulations.

 This was discussed in agreement 2 of 2020, which specifies that "legal casino operators may market other novel games of luck and chance authorized by the regulatory body from the operator's technological platform, which is now considered a new sales channel.

This initiative is similar to those required for already regulated games like Bono ruleta, sports betting, and poker, although given the nature of these games, modifications will continue to appear.

Thanks to Coljuegos call to action, the tax fee was set at 15 percent on gross wins for all casino operators and a 1 percent extra tax paid to the regulatory body. The exempt for this charge are casino operators who offer games of skill instead of the typical games of luck and chance. Thus, day-to-day fantasy football platforms enjoy license operations without the tax fee.

Since then, Colijuegos and the government have mainly focused on two things: to make sure the licensing teams are constantly working on reviewing, attracting, and licensing applications for all sorts of operators – offshore and onshore, and to ensure variety to their player audience.

With the first Bono de casino operators licensed in mid-2017, and many others obtaining the 5-year gambling permit, it's safe enough to assume that the Colombia gambling market is only thriving.

What's more, the licensing body has equally focused on reducing and blocking illegal casino operators from providing their products to the player audience. Those platforms only did harm to an impeded industry and the overall country, particularly since incomes from recently applied interactive gaming fees have been used to support education, health, and other state funds.

How Do Casino Operators Obtain Their Permits?

The licensing process has been key to a positive gambling industry across the country. Coljuegos has been responsible for accessing and regulating the land-based gambling industry, starting from the long-lasting Colombia lottery through sports betting shops (mostly dog and horse racing) and casinos.

Recently, Colijuegos was also given a chance to regulate the new interactive gambling environment. With the 2016 eGaming Act, concerned operators have been able to obtain a license, get properly authorized, and be reviewed to offer their services. Currently, there is no information regarding the application fee. Yet, it has been made public that illegal casino operators are easily subject to 6-8 years of detainment, as well as a fine of nearly €10.9m, making regulated operation all the more tempting.

Player Safety

During the unregulated period, Colombian hard-hitters were left to fend themselves – they were not under anyone's protection. But that's quite understandable since they were only able to gamble at unlicensed gambling platforms, which had no legal duty towards their audience.

Nonetheless, with proper regulations in place, Colombian players are advised to address their government or municipal facilities or the regulatory body directly and ask for protection for any issue regarding a legal or illegal operator. Unlicensed casino operators have also received a different treatment since the new regulation domains have been applied in their blacklist, with IP blocks widely distributed. Finally, only Columbia's licensed online platforms and foreign-based gambling sites will be able to provide live games for everyone.