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Colombia – Crack down on illegal gaming underway in Colombia

By - 20 May 2013

The Colombian Gaming Control Board (Colijuegos) has begun a wide sweeping investigation into illegal gaming in the city centre of Villavicencio in the province of Meta.

Working alongside local police forces the board investigated all gaming establishments in the city and confiscated forty slot machines, and almost 500 hundred bingo seats. The investigation into illegal gaming is part of a much wider operation now underway in Colombia after the previous gaming control board ETESA was scrapped after it was discovered that it had been accepting bribes in return for granting stays of closure.

In Colombia all money generated by gaming goes to the beleaguered Colombian health sector, and casinos and slot parlors were controlled and regulated by a company called ETESA (The Empresa Territorial para Salud). Although ETESA was granted significant powers when it came to the closing down of gaming establishments and income generated by gaming increased steadily over the years in 2009 the body was rocked by  a number of scandals involving some of its highest members including ex head of the board  Mery Luz Londoño. This was after media reports surfaced that she and her husband, Raúl Quintana had taken bribes from slot parlour owners amongst other corruption charges.

As a result ETESA was eventually scrapped and ColiJuegos was formed in 2012. Its members are now chosen directly by the President and selected from different government departments and the body now has much greater powers when it comes to control, taxation and inspection. In March 2013 the board began a crackdown in capital Bogota confiscating 42 slot machines and investigations have continued apace nationwide this year. The ultimate aim of the new board is to increase tax income generated by gaming as much as five times. While the gaming sector in Colombia is growing illegal gaming continues to be a key issue. It is estimated that for every 100 legal establishments in Colombia there are still 40 to 60 operating illegally throughout the nation.

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