After almost a year in which Resolution 666 of 2020 generally governed all biosecurity protocols against Covid-19 in Colombia, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection issued a new administrative act with the guidelines in force for pandemic control.
In this regard, the Minister of Health and Social Protection, Fernando Ruiz Gómez, stated that “as scientific evidence has advanced in the management of the COVID-19, there has been a need for changes to the protocols, for this reason resolution 223 of 2021 was issued”.
The resolution was issued on 25 February, and it has new parameters for action to maintain biosecurity.
The ones that will keep up are the use of masks, social distance, hand washing and the importance of ventilated environments are emphasized, whenever possible, doors and windows should be kept open for natural air exchange.
Like the provision of alcohol and disinfectant gel for use in the hands and surfaces that are highly exposed to contact by different people.
However, changes occur in the elimination of compulsory “temperature measure and listing those entering business establishments” the Minister of Health assured. Before casinos and commercial establishments had to not only take notes and contact details of who entered to the establishment but also had to ensure that none entered with higher temperatures than 36,7.
The use of disinfectant carpets and wheels or shoes for reducing the transmission of the virus is not recommended anymore for cleaning and disinfection.
In this way, new changes are expected to be made to the mandatory protocols for casinos, which have one of the stricter protocols in all industries. This will allow these establishments to be respected in the face of the responsibilities that both economics and biosecurity should have taken.
It is official, as of the publication in the Official Gazette of the recent Resolution No. 20221200013634 published by Coljuegos, by which the document of Technical Requirements for the Online Connection System for SCLM+ Electronic Slot Machines is issued, the authorized operators with a current contract will have a period of up to 12 months to implement the conditions adopted in the same document.
It is worth noting that the new online connection system for METs, hereinafter SCLM+, is a software solution, custom developed, that allows the operator to capture information from the METs to be sent to the Coljuegos System.
It is made up of three subsystems:
- Information Management Sub System.
- Security Sub System.
- Monitoring and Reporting Sub-System.
According to its technical requirements, Coljuegos will provide a web service with a REST-type interface, the details of which will be published on the entity's web page under the name "Detailed specification document of Web Service consumption and list of response messages.pdf". The purpose of this interface will be to receive the information to be transmitted by the operator to Coljuegos under an XML structure.
REST is an interface to connect several systems based on the HTTP protocol (one of the oldest and most reliable protocols in software development) and serve to obtain and generate data and operations, returning those data in very specific formats. Many companies such as Twitter, Facebook, Google, Netflix, LinkedIn and thousands of startups and enterprises use REST technology.
On the other hand, some possible situations that may arise with this new system that should be taken into account by the operator are highlighted, such as:
- In the event of new developments of Withdrawal, Addition, Transfer or Replacement being submitted to Coljuegos, the machines must start the information report applying these new developments, after ensuring that the corresponding procedure is completed and they are applied to the Coljuegos Inventory.
- In the event that an authorized MET registered in the inventory is not in service for any reason, the last capture or capture of the counters and the corresponding record of the significant event defined must be reported.
- In the event of a significant event affecting the meters, as many MET records must be reported in the file as events occurring during the day with their respective meters and additionally filling in the code of the defined event and the fields "Date and Time Event" in these records.
Finally, each and every one of the aspects described in this document and applicable to the SCLM+ software, shall be subject to certification by one of the laboratories endorsed by Coljuegos, for such purpose, the laboratory in its report must make reference to compliance with the following aspects:
1. Regulations applicable to the report.
Verification of the conditions of the Security Sub System, specifically those associated to the impossibility of modifying, adjusting, rewriting or altering data originated by the MET and stored in the SCLM + 3.
Verification of the subroutine for sending automatic information without manual intervention from the SCLM+ to the Coljuegos System.
4. Verification of the capacity of the SCLM+ software to automatically include the SHA - 1 (Secure Hash Algorithm) codes, generated by a security subroutine, on the critical files reported to the laboratory during the software certification process, in the defined Web service model.
The certification will be valid for 2 years from the issuance of the report.
Coljuegos public and will be receiving comments on the draft resolution by which the document "Technical Requirements for the Online Connection System for Electronic Slot Machines - SCLM+" is issued, which establishes for the first time the temporality guidelines for the implementation of SCLM+.
It is worth mentioning that the update of this online connection system comes after having requirements for more than 8 years. For this reason, Coljuegos seeks continuous improvement in the Entity's internal processes and greater control of the transmission and reporting systems through an update of the online connection system.
This resolution that will update the technical requirements, incorporates the contributions of gambling associations, gambling concessionaires and interested third parties, which were sent at the time of the publication of the document that establishes the Technical Requirements, during April 18 to May 5, 2022.
In this way, the authorized operators with a current contract according to the draft resolution will have a period of up to 10 months, counted from the effective date of this resolution, to implement the conditions set forth in the document.
If a new concession contract is entered into during the 10-month term to implement such conditions, the new operator will have to prove compliance with the technical requirements during the remaining months of the 10-month term.
With respect to the application of the settlement protocol, Coljuegos establishes that it will be applied from the first day of the month following the month in which the 10-month period provided for in this resolution is completed.
The implementation of the Technical Requirements of the SCLM+ will then be carried out under the following schedule proposed by the entity.
- Stage 1: Up to four (4) months counted from the effective date of this resolution, to develop the required software.
- Stage 2: Up to two (2) months as from the end of stage 1, to carry out joint tests with Coljuegos, in a testing environment.
- Stage 3: Up to three (3) months from the end of stage 2, to carry out the certification process foreseen.
- Stage 4: Up to one (1) month from the end of stage 3, for final entry into the production environment.
Compliance with these technical requirements shall be accredited and/or verified by means of a certification issued by one of the laboratories accredited by Coljuegos.
According to the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE), during the first quarter of 2022, the sector of artistic, entertainment and recreational activities reported a growth of 36.2%. These, added to household activities, together contributed 1.14 percentage points to the variation of the total national GDP, which stood at 8.5%.
However, when we disaggregate the item of artistic and entertainment activities, we find that the Dane lists five important sub-branches.
In first place are gambling and betting activities, which weighed 42% in that entire heading; followed by sports and recreational activities (soccer games, amusement parks and social clubs) which took 10%.
"It is important to remember that the pandemic brought us a practice of online gambling and betting that has had a very large growth throughout the last quarters.
Particularly in the first quarter of 2022, the activities of games of chance grew at a rate of 57%", stated Juan Daniel Oviedo, general director of the Dane.
Likewise, the category of personal services (for example, everything related to wellness and hairdressing services) stands out with a weight of 37% of the sector.
Another category is everything related to creative and cultural activities (concerts and shows), which accounted for approximately 3%. Finally, activities generated by associations, guilds and cooperatives accounted for 8%.
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Much has been said about the change of operator of Baloto, however, recently this change received another blow that does not go very well for the beginning of its operation. Baloto will break relations with different entities to which it served as collector or banking correspondent.
In the last few days, entities such as Colpatria and EPM (biggest Colombian company of public services) informed the public that until yesterday the commercial relationship with Baloto was maintained.
"Scotiabank Colpatria informs that from May 24, 2022 the VIA Baloto channel will cease to provide services for payments, collections, deposits, payment pins, withdrawals and other transactions," the bank informed all its users.
The situation has already caused complaints from some users of the service who are affected by the decision, since in some areas of the country, such as Barranquilla, the entity has reduced its presence with fewer offices so that customers "today have nowhere to go to deposit", said Camilo Torres, a user of the service in Atlántico.
EPM, for its part, also announced that it will no longer receive utility payments by this means.
"As of next Wednesday, May 25, no Baloto point nationwide will be enabled to attend collections of EPM services".
The EPM Group explained that this situation was generated by internal processes of the company IGT Colombia Ltda., which operated the platform of the Baloto-Revancha game of chance.
"It is important to highlight that, as of May 25, none of the transactions associated to public services with EPM, made through the Baloto collection channels and points, will be applied or credited to the invoices," it reiterated to all its users.
Online payment companies have started to replicate this behavior. Companies such as ePayco, have sent an email informing their users that they will also stop receiving or disabling the Baloto payment method, affecting hundreds of thousands of electronic businesses in the country.
"Taking into account that Coljuegos selected a new operator for the game of luck and chance "BALOTO", whose change implies the non-provision of collection and withdrawal services in the Via Baloto network from May 24, 2022 at 23:59." Communicated ePayco to its users.
In Tolima, the company Celsia also announced that its users will no longer be able to pay their bill at the Baloto points as from May 25.
Even Air-e, a company dedicated to the provision of electric energy public services in 3 departments, Atlántico, La Guajira and Magdalena, will not continue receiving payments through Baloto either.
"As a consequence of the decision taken by Coljuegos with the new Baloto operator, the collection contract was terminated and therefore our clients can access the large collection network that the company currently has, including our own collection points," said its commercial manager, Claudia Gómez.
This means that Baloto loses one of its strongest sources of income for its operation, with a domino effect affecting millions of citizens in different parts of the country.
As from next week, a new Baloto operator will take the reins of the operation of the gambling game. Formed as a legal entity, under the denomination: Operadora Nacional de Juegos, the new company joined Gelsa, from Bogota, with Redcolsa, from Valle del Cauca, and will replace IGT, a company that arrived in Colombia more than 22 years ago and now says goodbye to gamblers.
In a statement issued to the public opinion, disclosed this Saturday, they emphasize that their activity will continue until May 24. Consequently, from the 25th of the same month, they will no longer be responsible for the content published on the website and social network accounts.
In that context, they point out that from that date, "requests, complaints, claims, complaints or suggestions (PQRSD) about Baloto must be processed with Coljuegos", which is the authority in the gaming sector.
The departing company is considered a heavyweight in the gambling industry. It is supplier of 37 lotteries in the United States and at least 30 other national lotteries in other countries.
In this way, IGT thanked the Colombians: "Thank you for your trust and for allowing us to be part of the history of the gaming sector in the country, an industry that provides decisive resources to the State and that generates employment and development", they concluded, a few days before closing the page with this game.
Several things will change
The entrance of a new operator of a game as famous in Colombia as the Baloto will undoubtedly bring several changes. One of them was recently announced by Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM).
The public services provided by this company will no longer be paid at the Baloto points, so it called on citizens to take this novelty into account, since "as from May 25, none of the transactions associated to public services with EPM, made through the Baloto collection channels and points, will be applied or credited to the invoices".
There are also expectations in Colombia for the changes that may be proposed by the new operators, with other conditions related to the game itself, or with the services provided at the Baloto service points.