Legalization in Colombian style

What does South America mean for online gambling industry?

It’s one of the most promising markets that attracts huge interest of many investors. First of all, population of South America is close to half a billion people. Secondly, the region shows impressive economic performance; and according to Cisco, internet traffic growth is 73% per year.

Grapevine-shaped continent whets appetite of gambling operators from long ago. They want to legally establish themselves in South America.

But the situation is quite complicated – the market is relatively new and not properly regulated. Colombia became the first South American country that legalized online gambling and started issuing licenses in July, 2017.

Two years have passed since then, so it’s time to make first conclusions. In general, it can be summarized in one word: amazing. Or “sorprendente”, like Colombians say. Now it’s not only the country with the most beautiful girls and the best coffee, but also with the most developed gambling market across the continent.

Brave Hidalgo

In the beginning of August Coljuegos (Colombian regulatory body) published the semi-annual report for 2019. According to it, government’s share of the country’s online gambling revenue reached $8.9 bln, which was 63% more than in the same period last year. Overall, Colombian gambling market has more than doubled in size since the moment of registration of the first gambling operator Wplay.co.


Colombians say thanks to the Coljuegos regulatory body

In December, 2018 Coljuegos reported that its online licensees had registered a total of 1.7 mln customer accounts. In June, 2019 this number has grown to 2.5 mln. It’s a very reasonable amount for a country with a population of 48 mln people. Colombian gambling market is mushrooming, though there’s another substance that usually comes to mind in relation to this country. But there definitely should be something behind such a rapid growth.

This new gambling policy has been initiated by the current president of Coljuegos – Juan B. Pérez Hidalgo. He has accomplished an outstanding work that included several important steps. The clear requirements have been created for gambling operators interested in getting Colombian license. They were obliged to maintain a reserve fund, satisfy certain technical requirements and be transparent for legal authorities.


Juan B. Pérez Hidalgo gives a “thumbs up” to legal gambling in Colombia

Coljuegos has cleaned up illegal sports betting operations which appeared in large amounts during the gambling prohibition period. Currently the regulatory body blocks about a dozen of unauthorized gambling-related websites every month.

Hidalgo’s policy is hardly arguable: people are used to gamble from ancient times, so there always will be someone who can accept a bet or deal the cards. He figured out that it would be a smart move to establish a legal regulation of online gambling instead of letting underground operators take all the profits.

No guts, no glory

Juan B. Pérez Hidalgo’s approach can be viral. In just several years he filled the State Treasury with tax incomes, eradicated illegal gambling and created jobs. It seems like continental neighbours are not going to stay aside for long and be scared of a possible failure. It’s more likely that they will try to make up lost ground in the nearest future. You just have to take some risks if you want to achieve something. This basic principle of gambling philosophy is very relevant for people in Latin America.

It’s quite a coincidence: Columbus discovered America, and Colombia became a pioneer in online gambling regulation on the continent.

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