International edition
September 19, 2020

Exclusive interview with Evert Montero Cárdenas, Fecoljuegos' president

"We propose adding bets on virtual events and live casino to Colombia's gambling offering"

"The gambling industry has understood that it must be trained and made aware of what it does in order to avoid any issue related to money laundering and money coming from a dubious origin," stated Evert Montero Cárdenas.
Colombia | 04/09/2019

The Colombian association leader welcomes the academic stage opening at FADJA, and considers necessary to advance and work on aspects such as technology, informality and integrity in the national industry. He values the regulator in Colombia was kept the same despite the recent national authorities change, but he shows his concern about "how the State does not allow the activity to be carried out with guarantees in order to be sustainable in the long term."

F

ecoljuegos, a Colombian association of executives from the gaming industry, will be present this week at FADJA 2019, with an institutional stand (No. 28). “We celebrate that in this edition an academic stage has been opened, since the debate between different stakeholders allows to exchange very important ideas that contribute to the improvement of the industry,” Evert Montero Cárdenas, Fecoljuegos’ president, told Yogonet.

He said that the guild will participate along with Asojuegos in a space where interviews will be held with the guilds' affiliates and the spokespersons of the sector, and it will also be the opportunity to establish networking relationships and communicate “positive news”. “Our purpose is to show the bond that has been created to work for the needs of the industry, the reputation and the integrity of this activity that every day strives to grow and have long-term sustainability,” he explained.

Fecoljuegos will accompany the opening ceremonial event before the trade show, they will be present in the show’s live streaming and they will participate in the academic agenda on Thursday, April 11, along with the managers of Wplay, Luckia and Zamba, in the discussion about the present and future potential of the Colombian market.

What contrasts could be made between the current status of the Colombian industry, compared to the one framing last year's edition?

The work carried out in 2018 was significant, Fecoljuegos held productive working meetings on different topics of interest and obtained positive results in the actions carried out in the reputational strategy, achieving recognition and greater visibility. This year we will continue leading and promoting this initiative that has allowed us to make approaches with different interest groups and position the sector as a socially responsible activity and generating resources for the country's economy. On the other hand, we have found that it is necessary to advance and work on aspects such as technology, informality and integrity as a way to generate greater competitiveness and transparency in the gaming operation in the country. We consider trends and technological developments in the industry very important, which is why we are interested in understanding and implementing tools to mitigate the cyber risks of the operation and the possible effects on sports integrity.

How would you assess the current relationship of the financial system with the gambling sector in the country?

We believe that important approaches have been made with the financial sector, the gambling industry has understood that it must be trained and made aware of what it does and how it does it in order to avoid any issue related to money laundering and money coming from dubious origin. We have given ourselves the task with banking entities and associations to show them that this is an absolutely controlled and regulated activity, that risk odds are very low and that at present different tasks have moved forward to detect the alerts that may arise in the sector. Gambling entrepreneurs are committed to working in a culture of compliance and risk management because they are aware of the need to demonstrate that things are being done well and to share transparent, reliable and complete information to the entities of the banking sector.

Do you see any current or future impact on the industry derived from the recent change of national authorities in Colombia?

Whenever there is a change of authorities there will be a lot of expectation, since the results may vary according to the experience and objectives of the people who assume the leadership. It is possible that there is a development and the activity gets more dynamic, or that there is stalemate and setbacks, due to the lack of knowledge around it, which leads to start again with a learning curve that is not easy to assume. Fortunately, the regulator in Colombia was kept the same, and this is important because they already have the knowledge and expertise about the sector and additionally significant spaces have been opened for discussion and construction that we hope will finally lead us to solve the situations of the industry.

The president of Asojuegos recently described specific concerns about the current situation of the companies, such as chance sales not covering operations, the need for diversification to cover profits, and pointed out as a factor the requirement of minimum profitability above the sales of the operation. Do you agree with that landscape?

We agree with the president of Asojuegos, Juan Carlos Restrepo, the feeling of concern expressed by the whole industry. We are concerned about how the State does not allow the activity to be carried out with guarantees in order to be sustainable in the long term. We have promoted and requested the regulator and the government on different occasions to modify the operational rights, in such a way that the guaranteed minimums established at the present time are eliminated, so that the operators would not have to assume obligations for unearned income.

How do you consider that the recent changes made on the suggested settlement protocol for operational rights for slots will affect?

The Federation managed to add some of the comments and observations made to the protocol modification, we were requesting in different working meetings to be reviewed, since the differences presented are affecting the operators with excessive charges that they must assume. The resolution introduced some changes that would be expected to reduce the clearance gap for operational rights between the suggested and the one made by the operator, since, although in the total contract differences were reduced, the inequalities per machine still persist.

Do you consider Colombia is today a mature model for other jurisdictions in the region with emerging markets, such as Brazil, Argentina and Peru? What concepts could be exported?

Colombia has taken a very important step with the regulation of online gambling. As the first country in America to regulate this type of game, it has become a benchmark and a worldwide success story. We believe that the experience in the country must be kept, not only because it has been successful, but also because there are many things to improve and energize. This regulation allows business opportunities, but at the same time it falls short with the gaming offer. Therefore, from Fecoljuegos it has been proposed that the current offer be complemented with the options of bets on virtual events and live casino, which may generate a big impact in the greater collection for the health of the Colombians, the resources for the government, healthy competitiveness and additionally, it would serve as a tool to fight illegality.

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