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Colombia – Colombia gets tough with Gaming Laws

By - 31 August 2016

The Colombian Justice Department has handed down its first prison sentences for those found to be breaking its gaming laws.

The Gaming Board Coljuegos has reported that the First Criminal Circuit court in the municipality of Chinchiná (in the department of Caldas) issued a ruling on 22 August, condemning the owners of 15 slot illegal slot machines to four years in prison as well as a fine of $196.5m pesos (around US$66,500) each.

The court also condemned the person who was in charge of serving the public and monitoring the use of the slot machines to two years in prison and a fine of $96.2m (around US$32,000). After the sentence was handed down Coljuegos issued a statement and warned the general public to refrain from “taking part in the operation, development and commercial use of electronic slot machines, casino tables, bingo, illegal sports betting and other games of chance without permission and / or authorisation by the entity.”

Illegal gaming is one of the most pressing issues faced by the gaming board and it is hoped that the tough new sentences will help deter others from taking part in the operation of illegal gambling operations. In Colombia illegal gaming accounts for an estimated 20 per cent of the industry and there are at least 7,000 illegal slot machines located throughout the country. A study carried out jointly by Colombia’s gaming control board and the National Federation of Merchants (Fenalco) revealed last year that at least 2,000 local businesses in Bogota alone are operating illegal slot machines on their premises.

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 US$20,000) per illegal slot machine as well as six to eight years in prison. The gaming board is also waging an increasingly visible war on illegal gaming in the media. Since 2014 the board along with police have confiscated over 11,000 slot machines while the board has confiscated 6,000 slot machines this year alone so far.

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