Colombian regulators shut down around 3,365 illegal gambling websites in less than four years after opening the market to licensed operators in 2016, it has been revealed.
Released by Colombian regulator Coljuegos last month, the figures reveal the scale of the fight against illegal gambling entities in the country.
In order to crack down on operators seeking to bypass the licensing process, the regulatory body teamed up with local government, regional police forces and industry trade bodies to share information on potential malpractice. This resulted in more than 3,300 websites being blocked by the government between 2016 and late 2019, Coljuegos said.
In 2018 and 2019, the regulator stepped up its battle against illegal operators with a series of police raids on unlicensed premises – a move it credits for a subsequent increase in tax takings from the regulated sector.
In a tax statement released this February, Coljuegos revealed a 16-percent jump in revenues over the course of 2019, with income from licensed operators totalling COL$680 million (€183,000).
Online gambling – the newest sector of Colombia’s regulated market – exhibited the sharpest growth in this period, with remote operators bringing in around COL$70 million (€18,800) in tax throughout the year. Meanwhile, local gambling and bingo halls brought in most of the cash, with COL$382 million (€102,770) revenues representing around 57 percent of the total tax take.
In a statement to shareholders, Coljuegos president Juan Perez Hidalgo said the figures underscored the regulator’s improved tax efficiency. Under Colombian gambling law, all proceeds will be used to fund healthcare services.