Colombia – Crackdown on illegal sports betting continues in ColombiaBy Phil - 6 March 2017
Colombia’s Gaming Control Board (Coljuegos) has carried out a major crackdown on illegal sports betting centres.
With the support of the Colombian National Army and Technical Investigation Corps (CTI) of the Prosecutor’s office the board carried out a number of checks and raids in the city of Neiva, in the administrative department of Huila. During the proceedings twelve illegal sports betting establishments were found to be operating in the districts of Gualanday and Achícala, during which 92 computers were found to be offering illegal sports betting.
The Head of Coljuegos Juan Pérez Hidalgo said the crackdown will continue with the help of the Prosecutors office, the national army as well as the National Police. He also said that it was part of a larger strategy aimed at raising awareness that revenue generated by the gaming industry provides vital funding for national health programmes.
“We invite all citizens to ensure the legality of the establishments that they visit as when they are not legal there are no guarantees when it comes to the paying out of prizes,” he said.
The crackdown comes after it was revealed last month that revenues for the gaming board were on the rise. During a sports integrity conference held by Genius Sports in partnership with the board in Bogota, Mr Hidalgo announced that the gaming sector in Colombia was going through a “good moment” and that the positive results of the board in 2016 were in part due to the increased powers of the board itself. According to Mr Hidalgo, revenue for the board generated by operating rights and VAT increased by as much as US$500m – a growth of 27.5 percent in 2016 compared to 2015.
Improved revenues, he said, were down to the board’s continued efforts against illegal gaming. According to Mr. Hidalgo the gaming board’s strategy is composed of three components: police control, public awareness and a regulation of legal games that competes with the illegal sector. However, illegal gaming remains a key issue and still accounts for around 20 per cent of all bets made in Colombia and there are around 70,00 illegal slot machines still in operation nationwide.