ead of Coljuegos since April this year, Juan B. Pérez Hidalgo knows one of the challenges the authority body faces is the control of the i-gaming sector as well as the regulation of online slots. In an exclusive interview with Yogonet, Mr. Pérez Hidalgo said he has managed to make use of all efforts in order to 'build on the sucess."
What balance do you make after the first months in office? What was the scenario in Coljuegos when you first arrived? What goals have you set for your first year in office?
Coljuegos is a clear example of good administration. In its short period of existence, it has proved effciency, having a highly qualified board and a group of assistants committed (with the group's action), that have managed to show positive results. For instance, last year's income reached USD 128M in exploitation rights and online regulation, following a one-year action led by the organization's technical team.
“The legal authorization for online games will allow to protect resources for Colombians' health rights, also boosting the country's economy”
Regarding the balance of the past months, it has been very positive. I have tried to build on the success highlighting achievements such as the increase in the money we have collected – we expect to reach the USD 137M we have set as a goal for this year. We have published the first online gmabling code; we have reduced the answering times for operators' requests; 61 percent of authorized slots machines are connected online and we have carried out the first debate on the illegal aspects of the gaming sector for which we received the support of the Defense Ministry, the National Police, the General Attorney's Office, among other institutions, seeking to strengthen our efforts in the battle against illegality, bringing investigation and legal resources against those responsible of such practices.
One of the highlights of this period are the coordinated actions that have been underlined along with unions. We are listening to the demands of the gambling industry and building a political agenda that allows us to boost such an important sector.
What can you tell us about the regulation process? How is it unfolding?
Colombia is the first country to control online gaming in Latin America. For that, and considering that rules and technical requirements for games operators have already been set under the la 20161200013324 resolution, we expect that many become interested in compying with these requirements in order to become operational in the second semester of the year.
Online betting will be operated by legal companies that have the necessary infraestructure and controls to prevent minors from accessing these games. Regarding illegality threats, joint actions will be conducted along with authorities such as the Information and Communications Technology Ministry and the Cybernetic Centre of the National Police, in order to control illegal online betting. Furthermore, channels, financial entities, websites and all means that serve the exploitation, operation, sale, payment, advertising or trade of unauthorized gambling will be monitored.
The legal authorization of online gaming will allow to protect resources for Colombians' health rights, also boosting the economy of our country.
When are you planning to deliver the first license and have the first online gaming site in Colombia become operational?
We are waiting for those interested to comply with the requirements. Regarding dates, we will let you know at the appropriate time.
Have you conducted any report or study indicating how much money could regulated online gambling generate in Colombia? Do you have any estimations on how much money does illegal online gambling money account for?
We estimate we will collect USD 3.3M approximately during the first year. On the illegal online gambling sector, we have received 427 reports which will be forwarded to the proper authorities in Colombia.
What about the online system that seeks to have slots machines connected to Coljuegos in order to control them?
The connection process has been very positive so far. 61 percent of machines have connected successfully. We hope to have all slots connected by November, finishing a process that will modernize the online gambling sector in Colombia, guaranteeing wagerers' security when betting in a legal casino.