Colombian gambling experts predict the 2018 World Cup in Russia will bring a five-fold increase in sports betting to Colombia this June and July. Unlike in previous years, the Colombian government plans to regulate and tax some of that sports betting.
Colombia qualified as the 4th team from the CONMEBOL region, alongside Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. Peru defeated New Zealand to qualify as the 5th CONMEBOL team in an intercontinental play-off.
Situated in Group H alongside Poland, Senegal, and Japan, Colombian football fans have to believe their national team has a chance to advance in the 2018 World Cup bracket. If so, then it would mean a particularly heavy amount of betting on the 2018 World Cup — and for the first time in a legal, regulated sports betting environment.
That point was underscored at this week’s FADJA Colombia 2018, where regional gaming regulators and sports betting executives met. Over 50 gaming companies were in attendance to show off their gaming technology, while keynote speakers discussed a variety of issues facing the industry.
Evert Montero Cardenas on Colombian Sports Betting
During his speech, Evert Montero Cardenas, the president of the Colombian trade organization, Fecoljuegos, predicted that gambling on sports would increase by 500% during the 2018 World Cup. Mr. Montero Cardenas, who was the non-executive chairman of FADJA Miami, spoke at the recent FADJA Colombia event about the challenges and opportunities the upcoming World Cup in Russia would bring.
The Fecoljuegos president said, “95% of online bets are placed on football, where more than 37 million fans can bet on their favorite team and choose between more than 300 variables, for example, the matches’ score, the number of fouls and penalty cards or even the number of corner kicks. We hope that these opportunities and the classification of our team will be the main drivers of gambling growth during the World Cup.”
What Is FADJA Colombia?
FADJA is “Feria Americana de Juegos de Azar”, an annual Latin American gambling industry trade show. The Miami event brought together regulators from Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Colombia.
The conferences include gaming operators, as well as regulators. FADJA is a way for officials and executives to get to know each other, along with each others’ roles and motives.
Clarion Gaming executive Greg Saint, who was the event director for FADJA Miami, described the list of gaming industry participants: “Ainsworth Game Technology, Betradar, BetConstruct, Cashbet, Everi Games, Merkur Gaming, Play’n’Go, and, Scientific Games.”
FADJA Colombia 2018
The FADJA Colombia conference is becoming a requirement for gaming companies active in the South America, Central America, and Caribbean regions. For FADJA Colombia 2018, operators in Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico gathered.
Dynamic companies like Zitro, Win Systems, and BtoBet have exhibits at FADJA each year. Last year, IGT exhibited some of its top new slots cabinets at FADJA 2017, as well as popular slot machine designs like Golden Egypt, Fu Gui Ji Li, Big 5 Safari, and Lucky Larry Lobstermania 3.
Fecoljuegos Trade Assocition
Evert Montero Cardenas described what the organizers of the gaming conference have done in 2018, stating, “At FADJA, we have strengthened Fecoljuegos as the representative of the businesses’ interests before government and private entities, as well as highlighting the importance of trade associations as spokespersons for this industry of extreme importance for the country’s economy.”
“Additionally, we extended our invitation to land-based and online operators and manufacturers who are not yet affiliated to our association, to join this great family and work together for the welfare of operators and the future of this industry.”
Fecoljuegos and FADJA are a part of an increasingly complex online gambling industry in Colombia, which is one of the leaders in online gambling regulation in South America. A good bit of that complexity can be credited to Colombia’s lawmakers, who decided to legalize, regulate, and tax online sports betting in Colombia — and create Coljuegos.
Coljuegos: Colombian Gaming Regulator
Coljuegos is the new Colombian gambling regulator. In March 2016, Coljuegos gained approval to license online sports betting companies in Colombia. The regulator immediately blacklisted 325 online bookmakers, including major UK and European bookmaker sites like William Hill, Betfair, Paddy Power, and Ladbrokes, along with giants of online poker like PokerStars.
By summer 2017, began licensing online sportsbook companies. Much of the early licensing involved Colombian companies or Latin American operators. The list of licensed sportsbooks included Bogota startup Colbet, along with more established sites like Corredor Empressarial’s Betplay.com.co, Vicca Group and GAMING1’s Zamba.co, and Aquila Global Group’s Wplay.co.
Coljuegos Softens Stance on Foreign Gaming Companies
As one might expect, the new regulatory agency had some growing pains. Within 18 months of the mass blacklisting and 6 months of the launch of Colombian online sportsbooks, Coljuegos’ regulators decided to soften their stance on international online gambling companies.
Coljuegos’ inability to stop offshore online gaming sites like Bovada and Betway became apparent, so the futility of banning publicly-traded companies to help Colombian gaming operators became apparent. It is a lesson that Australian lawmakers have not yet learned.
November 2017 Poker Liquidity Deal
By November 10 2017, Coljuegos had legalized international poker liquidity sharing arrangement. On the same day, the regulator legalized online sports betting exchanges and virtual sports betting. With sports betting exchanges legalized, traditional sportsbooks should be legal in the near future.
New Colombian-focused companies joined the mix. Cornazar, which is owned by National Corporation of Entrepreneurs of Luck and Chance Games, applied for a license. So did Sportium, a joint venture of Cirsa and Ladbrokes. Brand like including Luckia and Codere followed.
BtoBet’s Appearance at FADJA
BtoBet’s Chairman Alessandro Fried said his company has a succesful FADJA 2018, like many of the 50 companies in attendance. Fried said of Colombia’s newfound regulatory framework, “Such a strong regulatory scene will in turn guarantee a very good level of protection for both the operators and the players themselves.”
The BtoBet CEO touted his company’s ability to handle the needs of Colombian gaming operators, stating, “At BtoBet, having onboard different operators is a huge advantage. This puts operators in a position to be immediately fully compliant. What this essentially means that our platforms – in the form of Neuron Sports and Neuron Casino — have all the features required by Coljuegos fully integrated.”