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 Colombian Illegal Gambling, the industry that grows while others go down

Colombian Illegal Gambling, the industry that grows while others go down
Origin: Clara Maria Suarez
Published: 2016-12-12

A good part of the coins with which thousands of Bogota citizens feed begging in the city ended up in those games. But the bulk of the market is moved by a perverse strategy, which went through creating a double addiction to the street people already consumed by drugs: that of gambling.

Part of the 'quota' for the mirrors, lights and mouths ripped from the cars trapped in the middle of the city were paid in the same coins used in the machines, as well as doses of drugs. Thus, the owners of the dreaded 'hooks', which they handled by equal sale of drugs, prostitution, murders and illegal games, recovered part of what they paid for the stolen car parts.

The profits were huge. Every day, hundreds of thousands of coins were taken in packages whose contents were calculated by weight.


Paradoxically, the product of the Bronx slots could be one of the least made up, since there was no authority that could control them. But across the country there are thousands that seemingly work under the rules, but are actually used to launder money from drug trafficking and other illegal activities

That is the explanation why in many village and city stores the owners of the machines pay up to 300,000 pesos (COP´s) per month of rent, regardless of whether the bettors are scarce or never arrive.


Police and Coljuegos, the state entity that controls gambling, have detected in recent years an increase of the devices in areas with high impact of micro-traffic. A month ago, Coljuegos and the Police of Cucuta seized 96 of these apparatuses. Several were installed in the transport terminal of this city. In Cartagena, they seized seventy-three.

In addition to laundering, there is a more worrisome hypothesis as to why mafias install thousands of these machines at a loss: a potential market is that of minors, who are also targeted by drug traffickers.

About the amount that this market moves there are no reliable calculations. But one fact can give an idea of its magnitude: since 2014, authorities have seized more than 11,000 slots. This year, there are 6,391. Its entrance of contraband to the country is another one of the chapters to establish. "What they are doing now is bringing them in scrap, or under the excuse of re-manufactured and have specialized sites to assemble them," said Colonel William Valero, deputy director of the Tax and Customs Police.

In Cordoba, the 'Úsuga' clan controls the illegal slot machine business. A section of the Police, the Gaula says that the gang forces the business owners to make space for their equipment, and when these are legal, it is usual for owners to pay vaccines between 10,000 and 15,000 pesos (COP´s) per day for each one. This year five criminals who were making these collections have been captured.

In the Eje Cafetero (Spanish name for a region of the country), the illegal group that monopolizes the illegal business is the dreaded band called “Cordillera”. In Medellin, in 2008 two officials of Etesa (entity replaced by Coljuegos) that investigated the mafias behind the slots, were assassinated. The 'office of Envigado' perpetrated the crimes and today, their heirs continue to profit directly or indirectly from what thousands of gambling machines produce in the communes of the city and in the municipalities of the valley of Aburra

In addition to nourish the coffers of criminals, these illegal machines bleed the health system, which has in gambling one of its main sources of funding. A year, the average tax generated by each legal machine reaches two million pesos (COP´s). And neighborhood business owners who are seduced by the idea of receiving some money by letting them install illegal machines, but actually they do not know that are playing with fire.

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Sports bets win a lot in Colombia and should pay more. 

Colombian Illegal Gambling, the industry that grows while others go down

While the government, the EPS, the IPS and the users of the health service confront each other with the aim of obtaining greater resources, coverage and better provision of services, an initiative that is beginning to be cooked in Congress is advancing firmly and in consensus. with the support of President Gustavo Petro, his government team, several parliamentarians and others linked to the health industry, to solve the sector's deficit.


It cannot be that while the health sector faces a budget crisis, the government seeks reform and needs resources, the EPS are suffocated and many are on the verge of bankruptcy, just like the IPS, and people continue to die at the doors of hospitals. or are dying while waiting for a medical appointment, sports betting and other online betting entrepreneurs are getting rich and, what is worse, squandering millionaire resources that would serve to save lives or at least improve the quality of life of many Colombians.” This is how the senator who presented the project expressed it.


After the parliamentarian's first technical and economic studies, it was concluded that online sports betting and other virtual bets, which have seen notable growth in recent years, provide a new contribution to health. It is complementary to the health reform that begins its debate in the Senate in the legislature that begins next February 16. It also generates unity because it can prevent a new tax reform since it will inject millionaires and new resources into the sector.


The approach considers that although the companies that operate sports betting and other online betting have low taxation and hence their billion-dollar income and profits, although they contribute to the State in taxes, it is not proportional, especially in the context of a health sector in crisis. due to lack of resources.


After substantiating the initiative, President Gustavo Petro learned about the project and agreed to process it in the Congress of the Republic.


Official estimates in 2023 show that the income of the betting sector approached $30 billion, the equivalent of the income of two tax reforms and for 2024 the estimated income projection could reach $32 billion. In contrast, Coljuegos' official balance in terms of transfers to the health sector from January to August 2023 was $564,000 million.

President of Coljuegos Marco Emilio will open the door to money laundering in the gaming industry? 

Colombian Illegal Gambling, the industry that grows while others go down

Coljuegos and the gambling industry have been immersed in a frontal fight against all forms of illicit activities and it has cost too much to have a reputation for transparency and good practices among all actors, as always. I have expressed it.


In the crusade that Coljuegos is carrying out against illegal betting and Chance, the interference and direct management of criminal gangs and armed groups that affect the business is evident in each operation, which was in the news this past weekend when the same Coljuegos press room , gave a good account of an operation carried out at the site where a brothel called the swimming pool operated and which had been converted into an online betting site and operated some slot machines, managed by one of the sector's gangs of Venezuelan origin.


In that order of ideas, the so-called infamous draft that Coljuegos published on December 7, 2023 aims to hand over the operation of all the illegal machines on the street to these gangs under the pretext of favoring shopkeepers with a study plastered with snot from the year 2018. , which was made before the quarantine and is not ideal to demonstrate the reality of the market 6 years later.


Marco Emilio does not bother to hide his veneration for permanent betting companies and their vertical businesses and his clear intention to facilitate and lighten their burdens is evident; In the Coljuegos reports, the prominence is always the contributions of the sports bets, the permanent bets, the prize he received from the permanent bets, the trip that the permanent bets sponsored to Las Vegas... and the localized ones who are the ones. we contribute more, there!


Mayors of the country have denounced that even the FARC ( illegal armed group named terrorist by US government  ) are in charge of the illegal Chance in the regions of Tolima, Sucre and Nariño and this is well known by Coljuegos, so how do they intend to not respect resolution 2016000006944 that regulates the machines on the route and that has not taken off? because of the entity itself.


Be careful that this great goal is for the entire gaming industry, Coljuegos headed by Marco Emilio could open the entrance to money laundering from the street, I know that we all know that it is true. What how? Well, it's simple, if the machines that leave the casinos and the spells end up there, there is no way to control them. However, resolution 2016000006944 is very clear and concise and describes perfectly how the development of these elements should be, going through a laboratory and so Coljuegos knows every move, something very different from the Online systems that transmit from a Casino, since the design of these machines is server-slave and the entity has access to the program and the soul of the system.


How are we in the companies with the lack of leadership and proactivity of Coljuegos with the permits, are we going to have to fight against the mafia whatever it may be?


…Hey! Batteries that piss us all off.

Macau is waiting for its custom suit in gaming regulation. 

Colombian Illegal Gambling, the industry that grows while others go down

In March 2022, then Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng, when meeting with a delegation of Macau representatives to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, expressed three hopes for the SAR, among which was assisting the Government in the amendment work of the city’s gaming law. The Vice-Premier could not have been more explicit in wishing that the local Government would do “a good job in amending the gaming law.”


It was one of the first times that a top leader in Beijing referred to the issue of gambling so explicitly. It will be said that other leaders, starting with President Xi Jinping, had already mentioned the issue beforehand, but just pay attention to what Xi said in 2014 (“it is necessary to better regulate the gaming industry” [with] “courage and wisdom”) to understand the differences.


Among the topics worth highlighting are: “cleaning up the entire casino sector; punishing those casino capitalists who crossed the border and committed cross-border crime as it is illegal to gamble in mainland China including marketing activities and online gaming or regulating the role and financial background of intermediaries or junkets in the casino industry.”


Considering the most important point, “diversifying the economy into new sectors without explicit heavy dependence and sole reliance on casino-driven capitalism, with the building up of Hengqin-Macau cooperation zone as a way out of the impasse.”


In other words, the law in force (“Amendment to the Gaming Law, 7/2022”) and the subsequent international tender were tailored to China’s requirements. That’s why Nelson Rose, a US-based leading gaming law expert, and with in-depth knowledge of Macau, states that “the influence of the PRC was not hidden.”


Beijing tolerates Macau casino capitalism to persist, but the conditions were laid out very clearly just a year before the renewal of all casino franchises.”


At the same time, Beijing also monitors who in the mainland often gamble in Macau casinos as some mainlanders have been seen as siphoning mainland treasuries and monies out of the mainland to Macau. As such, mainland authorities see Macau casinos as having potential and hidden threats to mainland economic security.


This was also why Beijing encourages and requires Macau to diversify its economy ‘suitably,’ a code word referring to the tolerance of casino capitalism in Macau with whatever degree of economic diversification it can and will achieve.

More Students Booking Bets. 

Colombian Illegal Gambling, the industry that grows while others go down

The growth of online sports betting has had a major impact on college life in recent years, according to reports, with gambling becoming an increasing part of many students’ lives.

Some experts are reporting that the ease of wagering has made the practice second nature among a mobile phone-focused generation, and some are feeling the effects of problem gambling.

Evan Ozmat, a doctoral student in psychology at the University at Albany, launched a counseling project in 2020 to work with undergraduate students about health issues. However, gambling turned out to be a common topic.

Since the beginning of the project three years ago, students have brought up, unprompted, gambling,” Ozmat told Time magazine. “We started asking about it in every appointment and everyone has something to say. It’s everywhere.”


More Students Booking Bets

Some experts have compared the newfound prevalence of on-campus betting to binge drinking. A recent study from the NCAA took a look at Americans ages 18 to 22 to study their gambling habits. The survey found that 60% have bet on sports with 4% admitting to wagering daily.

Another 6% reported losing more than $500 in a single day. Two-thirds of men have engaged in sports betting activities, according to the survey, as well as 51% of women.

Surprisingly, the legality of betting apparently wasn’t a factor. “Respondents living in areas where betting is legal versus those in areas where betting is illegal report taking part in each sports betting activity at nearly the same rate,” the report noted.

Reports estimate that as many as one in 10 college students are problem gamblers. Some students point to the positive aspects that come with betting, such as sustaining friendships, a love for sports, and staying invested with the on-field action.

Additionally, some note that many students do indeed bet responsibly. In the NCAA survey, about 60% of those who wagered reported betting in amounts of $20 or less. However, health experts believe this is a segment of the population to watch as sports betting continues to grow in popularity.

It becomes a normal embedded part of the culture and that has huge implications,” clinical professor of psychiatry and head of UCLA’s gambling studies program Dr. Timothy Fong recently told. “We’ve allowed it, but have we then kept up with educating that generation about what this activity really is?”

The American Gaming Association has recently pointed to the growth of the industry in recent years. The group predicted a record number of NFL bettors for the current season and pointed to sports wagering as major driver of record revenue for the gaming industry.

Technological Innovation is changing the panorama of Casinos. 

Colombian Illegal Gambling, the industry that grows while others go down

When you ask me, what innovation in your products has been best received by your customers?


I assimilate this answer directly with technology, since the latest technologies and platforms have characteristics such as flexibility and scalability, which attracts many clients who take advantage of this capacity to enrich the gaming experience. Customers are attracted to casinos for the gambling, food, entertainment, and social experience. For this reason, technological innovations are not clearly the drivers or motivators of interest in casinos.


Although some of the applications that use AR/VR can improve the experience, making it more attractive to younger people, but tangible services and products must remain competitive. However, digital table games are starting to make appearances in casinos, and I think they are already challenging some of the analog formats in that they can be a gateway product. I don't see them as a replacement, but perhaps they can increase the experience for a different type of player.


Continuing this link of the types of games that have also carved out a space in casinos it is worth mentioning the skill-based slot machines, which remain challenging because they do not necessarily address the reasons why people play which is the random.


Although I don't think skill-based machines will be a significant growth area, they can add value by enriching the slots environment.


Additionally, table games satisfy the element of skill in the game, as blackjack and poker incorporate some level of skill, combining chance and decision-making to offer a truly exciting and volatile gaming experience.


Finally, omnichannel has been the industry buzzword for some time now to tie together available technology, extending services beyond your casino walls to areas that benefit from technology. A clear example of this is the use of mobile and interactive platforms, advertising them through promotions to generate loyalty.

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