Colombia’s gambling industry continues to thrive amid rising revenues

Published on: November 29, 2022, 12:44 p.m.

Last updated: November 29, 2022, 12:52 p.m.

Colombia is home to one of the strongest gambling markets in Latin America and it continues to be more successful. The latest figures from the country’s gaming regulator, Coljuegos, reveal significant improvements.

Aerial view of Bogota and Torres del Parque
Aerial view of Bogotá, Colombia and Torres del Parque. The South American country continues to see strong results for its gaming industry. (Image: Getty Images)

After the peak identified in the first quarter, the third quarter of the year also recorded favorable results. In the first 10 months of the year, the sector demonstrated its resilience in the face of the adversities of the Colombian economy.

Between January and October 2022, gross gaming revenue (GGR) increased by 52% to COP 54.5 billion ($11.31 million). At the same time, operators paid more, offering a 21% increase with COP608.17 million ($124.7 million).

Colombian gambling on the rise

Of the total, localized games such as lotteries and slots accounted for COP 32.8 billion ($6.8 million) from January to October this year. This represents a 46% increase over the same period last year. In addition, iGaming reported GGR in that time frame of COP 21 billion ($4.36 million), an increase of 66%.

There should be even more growth before the end of the year. Following this year’s trend and the addition of events like the World Cup, total gambling revenue is likely to increase for Colombia to close out 2022.

Positive results also provide the government with much-needed revenue. Much of the money goes to the country’s health program, and the figure recorded in the first 10 months of the year already exceeds the amount recorded for all of last year.

In the first 10 months of the year, Coljuegos transferred COP 676.43 billion ($140.42 million) to the country’s health system. This translates to a 29% increase over 2021, which ended at COP 520.39 billion ($106.7 million).

Transforming the illegal gambling market

Colombia has become more proactive in stopping illegal gambling, and the efforts are paying off. The latest results show what happens when underground operations grind to a halt, and police across the country won’t let up.

In the northern department of Atlántico, local police, through ongoing investigations, captured three people practicing illegal gambling last week. Two women and a man are alleged to have been trading online keno and sports betting despite not having a licence.

The police revealed the activities by conducting spot checks in different sectors of Sabanalarga municipality. This is similar to other checks taking place across the country, with police paying more attention to business records and checks than before. One of their biggest targets is illegal sports betting operations.

These controls help prevent economic losses for the country. Some studies have estimated that Colombia is losing up to COP 800 million ($166,080) per month. The country’s Comptroller General estimates a worse scenario, putting the figure at close to COP 1 billion ($207,600) per month. It claims that up to 40% of sports betting activities take place illegally.

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