he number of greetings on the Fecoljuegos website, the Colombian Federation of Chance and Luck Games Businessmen, seem to be a good balance of the role that the entity managed to earn in Colombia. How do you assess these 20 years?
In these 20 years, Fecoljuegos has played an important role in increasing the professionalism, modernization, and reactivation of the sector, especially in recent times where we have experienced such a difficult situation; I believe that the place the gambling industry has gained in Colombia and the world has been very important. We have been the main characters in all the visibility of the activity, not only in generating resources benefiting the health of Colombians but also generating valuable job opportunities for the economies of the countries. Fecoljuegos has always been at the forefront of all regulatory issues that affect the activity, in matters of reputation and opening spaces that are finally the ones that will show this industry every day as a truly relevant activity.
Currently, the Colombian online gambling market is one of the most advanced on the continent, and its regulation is an example worldwide. What do you think were the main achievements of the industry to make this happen?
With important conditions not only for users but also to generate resources benefiting the health of Colombians; achievements such as creating job opportunities in addition to the economic support that companies have, and that is required by the rules, allows there to be some resources guarantees the payment of the prizes. Within the regulation, there are very important things such as the topic of responsible gambling in which you must set amounts of money that can be played during the month, also measures such as self-exclusion from the game, that it may be only for adults, that the traceability of money and resources may be clearly seen, which is an important weapon to combat illegality, the legal recognition of companies allows knowing where they come from and how each one of them works, among other regulatory measures that allow transparency in betting.
The Colombian game has been hit by almost two years of health restrictions and partial occupancy capacity. When do you estimate that the industry can return to complete normalcy?
We are on an ascent that was not only affected by the issue of the health crisis but also by the public order issues that arose in the country recently; we can say that we are in reactivation of approximately 60% to 70%. We believe that by the end of 2022 the sector of games of luck and chance will be completely stabilized, but we also have a lag of the six closed months, and of the four in which we were restricted, this lag is due to the fact that payroll had to be paid as well, and accumulated debts. All these fixed costs did not disappear with the pandemic, and they had to be maintained.
One of the main claims towards Coljuegos is that it may impose a greater regulatory presence in relation to illegal gambling. What have been the advances on this matter?
We believe that there is much to be done in the fight against illegality, although it is true that an important task has been carried out, we believe that it should go much further on the issue of controlling illegality, approving more games so that legal businessmen can run it without unfair competition. The technological issue and inter-institutional agreements that allow Coljuegos to do a thorough control of all these illegal platforms that operate in the country must be strengthened. Legal actions must also be taken against illegal operators that are in the country, who are well known, and who in many cases are multinationals that operate without generating any tax benefit to Colombia. This must be accompanied by making citizens aware that they should not bet on illegal platforms due to the risk of non-payment of prizes, in addition, the origin and operation of these platforms that do not contribute to the health of Colombians is unknown.