Colombia Approves Poker Liquidity, Live Casinos, Online Keno

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017 | Written by April Bergman
Colombia Approves Poker Liquidity, Live Casinos, Online Keno

Colombia’s new online gambling regulator, Coljuegos, announced on Friday a significant expansion of igaming. Besides agreeing to four new types of online betting, Coljuegos agreed to international poker liquidity and sports betting exchanges.

Colombia became the first South American country to approve online gambling in a formal capacity in 2016. At the time, Coljuegos, the longtime land-based Colombia’s gaming regulator, was given authority over online gambling. In the summer of 2017, Colombia began licensing online gambling sites.

A variety of online betting games were approved on Friday, including expanded lottery and keno sales over the Internet. Several types of online sports betting were approved, as well as live dealer casino games.

Online Sites Approved by Coljuegos

Coljuegos has licensed several online gambling sites in the past few months: Corredor Empressarial’s Betplay.com.co and Aquila Global Group’s Wplay.co were two of the first sites licensed. The joint venture between Vicca Group and GAMING1, a site name Zamba.co, also collected a gaming license. Bogata-based online sportsbook, Colbet, was licensed in October 2017.

Juan B. Perez Hidalgo, the president of Coljuegos, said his agency plans to license several other operators in the near future. Several gaming groups rumored to be in the initial phases of licensing are Spanish, including Luckia and Codere. Sportium, a joint venture of Spain’s Cirsa and the UK’s Ladbrokes, is also rumored to have applied for a license. For its part, Luckia is running a promotion for an all-expense paid trip to see the Real Madrid v. FC Barcelona Derby on December 20, and that ad is showing the Coljuegos logo.

Colombia’s own National Corporation of Entrepreneurs of Luck and Chance Games (Cornazar) is thought to be preparing to launch an online gaming portal. IGT and Microgaming already have deals with Coljuegos. The announcement of the various expanded forms of gambling might increase the number of operators who apply for a Colombian gambling license.

International Player Liquidity

Coljuegos’ embrace of international player liquidity opens the door for a Latin American international poker compact, if other South American and Central American nations pass the pro-online gambling laws. Even if that does not happen, Colombia could sign poker liquidity arrangements with natural partners outside the Western Hemisphere. Since card players compete against one another, Spanish-speaking countries would be best, but Spain just signed a poker liquidity arrangement with several other nations.

Online poker is better with a larger community of card players. The larger the poker community, the larger the jackpots on the guaranteed Sunday tournaments. The more players that are online at any given time, the more events an online poker site can offer, including a wider range of betting limits, game selection, and rules (freezeouts, add-ons, rebuys). When a critical mass is reached, it makes an online poker site much more lucrative, so shared player liquidity is important.

PokerStars announced it was leaving the Colombian online poker market in July 2017. Its main reason for doing so was the closed-border approach Coljuegos had at the time. One can expect PokerStars to return to the Colombian market in due time, because of Friday’s announcement.

Virtual Sports

Virtual sports are a new addition at many online sportsbooks. Instead of betting on a real life sporting event, players bet on the outcome of virtual sporting events which are played through a simulator. It is the equivalent of betting on FIFA 2017 video game football.

Virtual sports companies offer a variety of games, usually tailored for a specific region. At present, gamblers might find virtual soccer, virtual baseball, virtual basketball, virtual racebooks, virtual golf, and so on. The most popular Colombian sports would be featured on a Colombian online sportsbook.

Live Dealer Casinos

Live casinos with real dealers is one of the popular trends in online gambling in 2017. Live dealers deal cards in real time at blackjack and baccarat tables. Live croupiers spin roulette wheels as the video is streamed in real time to a player’s computer screen.

Live craps and Caribbean Hold’em are found less frequently in live dealer casinos. Many Asia-facing websites offer Pai Gow poker and Dragon Tail, along with several versions of baccarat. Companies like Evolution Live, Vivo Gaming (ViG), and Global Gaming Labs sign deals with online casinos to host games.

Countries around the globe host live dealer studios. The Philippines and Laos are popular in Asia, while Latvia and Estonia house some of the most popular games for Playtech. Microgaming has a studio in Toronto, Canada, while Betway Casino streams games from the Hippodrome Casino in London. In the South and Central American market, studios are found in Costa Rica, Panama, and Argentina. Colombia’s embrace of live dealer casinos might mean studios crop up in Colombia, which could create jobs for attractive young people, who invariably are hired for the live dealer gaming market.

Sports Betting Exchanges

Coljuegos also legalized betting exchanges in Colombian online gambling. Sports betting exchanges like Betfair get less attention than conventional sportsbooks like Ladbrokes, William Hill, and Paddy Power, but they are a popular alternative way to bet on sports. Instead of betting against fixed odds, the market is determined more directly on the betting exchange, somewhat like a stock market.

While proponents of betting exchanges and sportsbooks argue over which is best, Colombia’s embrace of both forms of sports betting is a good sign. It further diversifies the market and gives sports bettors a choice.

Online Keno and Scratchcards

Coljuegos also approved online keno games and virtual scratchcards. The sale of online lottery games is becoming more widespread. As more Colombians buy smartphones, online keno sales become more important to the Colombian lottery operators.