Establishment and Mission
Coljuegos is the state-authorised regulator of Colombia in terms of both land-based and online gambling. Created by Decree 4142 on the 3rd of November 2011, it falls under the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit while being the main authority in its area of competence.
The main purpose of the regulatory body is the exploitation, administration, operation and issuing of regulation of the games that are part of the broader category of games of chance. Beginning operations on the 16th of April 2012, Coljuegos was immediately invested with all the powers and responsibilities that were previously dispersed throughout the state with respect to gambling operations and their regulations.
In terms of its abilities, the regulatory body can propose and participate in the approval and issuing of legislation on both a territorial and national level. It is also tasked with providing licences towards private operators in the same area.
Coljuegos as a regulatory body and the Colombian economy
Coljuegos can be congratulated with its management model transforming the national and territorial gaming industry into a responsible, transparent, and solid sector, operating with world-class standards. This success has also allowed the sector to become more business-friendly and to gain the trust of a broader demographic of clients.
This comes at a time of almost exponential growth for the Colombian gaming market with the regulator revealing that the industry was able to generate a revenue of 23 billion pesos between January and July of 2021, which would amount to a 120% increase compared to the same period in 2020.
Referring to this news, César Augusto Valencia, president of Coljuegos, stated that “this is data that shows that we are on the right path in terms of economic reactivation and that, thanks to this performance, they can send greater resources to local health, since the rights reported operating costs by operators increased as a result of higher sales.”
In terms of revenue gain, Coljuegos managed to generate 362,681 million pesos, an increase of 89% compared to the same figures reported in 2020. When separated sectorally, 128,638 million came from land-based games, while iGaming registered 102,137 million and an increase of 189%.
Valencia also added that “we had to overcome adverse moments and variables that are out of our hands in order to move the gaming sector forward. For this reason, we will continue to work together on economic reactivation. By opening up these betting figures by game category, it becomes evident that historically, betting on sporting events is the category with the highest share in the portfolio of authorized online games. So, today, sports betting accounts for 56% of total sales, casinos and virtual games for 35% and other types of games such as live casino for 9%”.
Coljuegos has also been heavily engaged in the policing of the gambling industry, both land-based and online, and ensuring that it is done in a way that protects its citizens from the more unscrupulous elements of the industry. An example of this regulatory work would be the raiding and shut down of seven illegal gambling establishments in August 2021. This led to the seizure of 139 items of gaming equipment and the arrest of two individuals who were suspected of being in charge of the broader operations. With the support of Colombia’s national police, the regulatory body imposed $556,668 in fines for those responsible for orchestrating the illegal operations. Those involved also faced a five-year ban from engaging in any gambling operation.
SiGMA and Coljuegos
Given Colombia’s growing iGaming industry, Coljuegos has been an important partner in SiGMA’s efforts in the region and the broader continent as a whole. Their President, Juan Perez Hidalgo, has handled an opening speech at SiGMA Americas Digital conference in 2020 where he spoke about the potential that the sector had in the country of Colombia as the benefit it was contributing towards the broader economy and society of the country.
“Most resources [gained from the iGaming sector locally]” go straight to the Colombians themselves with a portion also being gained from tax and VAT for the Ministry of Finance where it is there distributed throughout the budget of the government.”
He also elaborated on the importance of sports gambling for the region and how football was king in Colombia. Even though the pandemic had had a devastating effect on the sports industry, the ecosystem had remained innovative with casinos, bingos and online gaming rising to the occasion.
“We have had the principle and that is to seek to make this business a good business for the operators. As long as this is doing well, we are doing well because we have a good collection at the level of figures. The collection in the national games has grown by 75% in the last four years. This is a successful experience, which shows that good management has been in the and shows that if the monopoly is well managed, it is good business for the entrepreneurs and generates very important resources for health here. The role of the regulator has been through reducing the response times for the procedures and to make these procedures totally automated.”
Given the growing market and economic power of the Americas as a region, SiGMA looks forward to further cooperation with Coljuegos in growing the Colombian economy and incubating an ecosystem of innovation and prosperity.