Colombia has recently updated its gaming laws so this page has been updated to reflect those changes. The new laws have been a positive change in direction as the government is now more accepting of online casinos, poker and sports betting. Players now have more choice and can even play at sites licensed in Colombia if desired.
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National gaming regulator Coljuegos approved new gaming laws in 2016 and began issuing licenses to Colombian casino sites in mid-2017. Only a few sites have been approved to date, but more are expected to come online as time passes. To date, these sites have received local licenses:
Currently, you can still play at casino sites headquartered in other countries where online gambling has also been legalized and regulated. We prefer to direct players to online casinos licensed in the UK because the UK Gambling Commission is the most effective regulator in the world when it comes to ensuring fair games and the safety of players’ funds.
Gaming laws that are in place right now prohibit the operation of unlicensed online casinos in Colombia but provide no penalties for players who choose to visit foreign online casinos. As a result, online gambling is widely available in Colombia via local and offshore gambling sites. Regulators may one day begin directing internet service providers to block access to foreign gambling sites, but that has not yet happened as of this writing.
With Spanish being the native tongue of some 400 million people worldwide, you will find no shortage of online casinos that offer their services in Spanish. This is a large demographic and the world’s biggest gambling firms long ago decided it was worthwhile to translate their websites and software to Spanish.
The one area in which you’re most likely to run into problems with foreign sites is making a real money deposit to fund your casino account. Most Colombian banks have an aversion to online gambling and that can lead to your debit or credit card casino deposits being declined. The same goes for most other Colombian payment methods.
If you find yourself unable to deposit via credit card or bank transfer, there are other options. AstroPay sells prepaid virtual debit cards that can be used at some sites.
If none of those options work for you, Neteller and Skrill are reliable alternatives. Both Neteller and Skrill function as online wallets in which you can store money, send money and receive payouts from casino sites. Neteller and Skrill have both been around for a very long time and are popular among gamblers due to their ease of use and speed.
Colombian Casino Sites and the Law
Government regulatory agency Coljuegos has the authority to draft and implement gambling regulation, and the news of the past year has revolved around the implementation of a new law called the Colombia eGaming Act. The implementation of this act began in 2016 and then went into full force in 2017 when the first licenses were issued to local operators.
The eGaming Act is wide in scope as it covers most forms of internet gambling such as online casinos, poker, sports betting, fantasy sports and more. Now that the Act is fully implemented, operators are required to apply for a license in order to serve Colombian customers legally. Gambling sites that do not have the proper license but continue to accept Colombians anyways may eventually find themselves subject to internet blocking according to a statement made by Coljuegos in November of 2016.
Licensed gambling sites are subject to a variety of technical and financial requirements in order to ensure compliance with the law and to provide for adequate consumer protections. Operators are required to utilize a Colombian bank account, operate on a .co domain and adhere to certain technical standards.
Taxes and fees look are significant with a 17% tax on gross gaming revenue (which drops to 15% for games that offer a return-to-player rate of 83% or higher) in addition to hefty licensing fees.
Reports from 2016 stated that Coljuegos will require Colombian casino sites to pay a fee that is equivalent to 811 months’ worth of the monthly minimum wage. With the monthly minimum wage translating to about USD $200, that indicates a licensing fee of roughly $160,000.
One of the more noteworthy aspects of the eGaming Act is that it specifically differentiates between games of skill and gambling games. Games of skill may end up not being subject to the licensing requirements and taxes explained above. This opens the possibility of fantasy sports sites, for example, being able to operate relatively freely throughout Colombia.
Although these developments are still somewhat new, Colombia appears to be on the verge of becoming one of the most developed markets in Latin America. If the tax regime and licensing fees end up proving affordable to operators, Colombia will likely see more gambling firms apply for licensing.
The new online gambling framework provides a major improvement over the former status quo which did not at all address online gambling in Colombia. Under the old system, local online casinos in Colombia had no way to acquire a license, which has allowed foreign casino sites to come in and completely dominate the market without paying a single peso in taxes.
To further exacerbate the problem, Coljuegos had little power to do anything to scare away foreign casino sites with them being headquartered in other countries and out of reach of local authorities. The new law grants Coljuegos a greater range of powers, including potentially blocking access to unlicensed gambling websites. Now, casino operators are required to adhere to local regulations, pay taxes and answer to our regulators or face serious difficulties in serving the market.
Wes Burns co-founded OnlineCasinoSites.com with a mission to help gamblers understand and navigate the regulated online casino market in all countries around the world. Wes is a respected gambling journalist, working in the industry since 2008.