Colombia’s regulator begins its strategy to legalize about 100,000 slot machines owned by small dealers


Colombia’s gambling regulator, Coljuegos, issued a resolution that seeks that the small businesses of all the Colombian territory that have electronic slot machines (METs according to its initials in Spanish) operating without the respective authorization of the entity may legalize their operation.

According to the President of the authority, Marco Emilio Hincapié, this strategy aims to promote legal gambling and the regulation of close to 100,000 slot machines operating in the Colombian territory without complying with the requirements of the law.

“The project ‘MET of Peace’ is an outstretched hand, because, besides the operations to seize machines and destroy them afterward, we are telling people that, according to the program of ‘Total Peace’ of our President Gustavo Petro, we formalize electronic slot machines that, for the moment, may be operating without authorization,” Hincapié stated.

He added: “We have regulated the ‘MET of peace’ so that all the people who have their machines are associated, with a minimum of 80 machines, so that they can legalize the operation, protect their interests, and contribute resources for health.” The latest estimates show that the METs operating without authorization fail to transfer an estimated COP 300,000 million ($76.3 million) annually.


Marco Emilio Hincapié

The president of the authority indicated that, according to the Resolution whose project had been presented in December, only the machines which are not or have not been linked to a concession contract authorized by Coljuegos can be considered as ‘peace gaming elements’.

The Resolution establishes that each commercial establishment may operate a minimum of one electronic slot machine, while the maximum will be established according to the population census of the municipality where they operate. Thus, where there are more than 50,001 inhabitants there will be a maximum of four machines per premises; where there are between 25,000 and 50,000 inhabitants there will be a maximum of three machines per premises; and in towns with less than 25,000 inhabitants, the maximum will be two machines per premises.

As for the owners of METs that continue operating without authorization, Coljuegos warned that they could incur fines for each one of the machines amounting to 80 legal monthly minimum wages, close to COP 104 million ($26,500). In addition, this activity constitutes a crime contemplated in Article 312 of the Penal Code, which refers to the unlawful exercise of monopolistic activity of rent-seeking arbitrage.

Procedure

The owners of electronic slot machines who wish to obtain authorization for their operation must enter the website www.coljuegos.gov.co and click on the ‘Operator’s Portal’ section. Once there, they must create a username and password and include the NIT of the legal entity registered before the Chamber of Commerce.

At this point, the legal representative’s data must be filled in, accept the terms and conditions, and click on apply. Once this process is completed, Coljuegos will begin the respective analysis of the information and will proceed to grant the operating authorization if the application complies with the requirements established in the resolution.

At the beginning of February, Coljuegos published a resolution through which it suspended the technical requirements for the connection of slot machines until July 31. The purpose of this measure was to use this time to work together with the industry in the necessary improvements for the operation of the machines and, in this way, comply with the current regulations and avoid illegal gambling.