The President of the Colombian Gaming Control Board (Coljuegos) Cristina Arango Olaya has summoned a meeting to discuss ways to combat illegal gaming.
Industry insiders and lawmakers are becoming increasingly concerned over the rise of illegal gaming especially the growth of sports betting shops and gaming in small businesses along the Caribbean coast and in the Andes region – the most populous region in the country.
The first round table was attended by representatives of the Attorney General’s Office, the National Police, the National Federation of Departments, and the National Federation of Municipalities. Local gaming interest groups were also present including The Colombian Federation of Employers of Games of Chance (FECEAZAR), the Federation for Casinos and Bingo Businesses (FECOLJUEGOS), as well as the Federation for Colombian Lotteries (FEDELCO). Together they pledged to submit proposals to tackle the problem.
Coljuegos has initiated a long running battle against illegal gaming. This year has seen major crackdown on illegal gaming with Coljuegos confiscating a total of 1,135 illegal slot machines so far this year, while 2014 saw a number of high profile raids in the neighborhoods of Manrique, Candelaria, San Javier, Guadalupe and Aranjuez de Medellín.
Illegal gaming is a key issue in Colombia where money generated by gaming is earmarked for the public health service. While the market is growing and Colombia is fast becoming one of the most lucrative markets in the region illegal gaming continues to be widespread. A new study carried out jointly by Coljuegos and the National Federation of Merchants (FENALCO) published in June revealed that at least 2,000 local businesses in Bogota are operating illegal slot machines on their premises.
It is estimated that there are now at least 70,000 illegal slot machines in Colombia. This is despite the fact that heavy penalties are now in place for non compliance with those found guilty of offences liable to pay of up to $50m pesos (around U.S$20,000) per illegal slot machine as well as face prison terms of six to eight years.