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Colombia – Major shakeup in Colombian gaming sector imminent

By - 25 March 2015

A plan to take lotteries out of the control of local governments and place a number of new games under the control of the Colombian Gaming Control Board (Coljuegos) could lead to major changes in the Colombian gaming sector.

New plans now being discussed would affect online gaming, sports betting and some lotteries. However local leaders are arguing that the federal government is seeking to wrestle financial control of lotteries and other games away from local districts in a bid to strengthen federal authority over local districts.

New plans which would affect the sector are now being debated in Congress as part of Colombia’s National Development Plan (NDP) which is aimed at setting the guidelines for growth and improvement in the country. The NDP is executed by the State Government and the National Planning Department as well as other sectors throughout Colombia.

The Government has introduced three articles to Colombia’s most recent National Development Plan which would affect the gaming industry as it seeks to make way for new games which have yet to be developed on a large scale such as instant lotteries, online gaming and sports betting.

However, the Federation of Departments have argued that plans to move lotteries from state control to federal control would be unconstitutional as the Constitution grants the 32 departments control and exploitation of all lotteries and changes to that law could not be made via the National Development Plan.

Amilkar Acosta, President of the National Federation of Departments, qualified the new proposals as an “absurdity” as it would give Coljuegos power to be both “judge and jury” when it came to exploiting any new games authorised in Colombia.

Meanwhile, Cristina Arango, President of Coljuegos said that any additional revenue generated by the new games would still be earmarked for the health service in each department. It is believed that gaming income for the state could increase substantially if the new provision were approved. According to the latest estimates new lotteries and scratch cards could generate around $10bn pesos by the fifth year while online games could generate another $19bn pesos for the Colombian health sector in the first year.

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