New Regulation Approves Colombia’s Pilot Plan To Restart Casinos

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Article by : Helen Aug 31, 2020

New decree 349, signed by the mayor of Cartago Víctor Alfonso Álvarez Mejía, allows the implementation of pilot projects in Colombian gambling establishments. Cartago became the first municipality to receive official permission to restart gambling establishments after they were closed due to an increase in coronavirus cases.

Ground-based casinos were forced to close their doors back in mid-March. Nonetheless, the government has been able to develop pilot plans to reactivate national casinos. The relevant health and safety protocols have been approved by specialists from the Ministry of Health of Colombia. Decree 349 stipulates that casino operators and bingo halls can resume their activities only subject to strict measures specified in the resolution of April 12, 2020. This also includes meeting the requirements of Resolution 1359 dated August 10, 2020, developed by the Ministry of Health.

According to official figures, the Ministry of Health has been given the authority to oversee the implementation of all security protocols. The President of Fecoljuegos Evert Montero Cárdenas noted that real progress had been made thanks to the new security measures. According to Cárdenas, Colombians’ health is now wholly in the hands of each city mayor, who can actively regulate security measures.

After adopting the relevant resolution, city mayors will have the opportunity to actively promote the restart of businesses and the implementation of pilot plans that have been approved at the national government level.

Nationwide approval for the reduction of restrictive measures has not yet been taken. Therefore, each municipality can authorize the development and support of pilot plans at the local level. Officially, there are more than 2700 licensed gambling establishments that are operating in the country. Each of them will be able to reopen their doors after the appropriate approval of local authorities.

The permit that Cartago received the city is crucial for the entire industry. Most likely, after the successful implementation of the pilot plan, positive shifts await the whole gaming industry in the country. The city municipality must now strictly monitor how gambling establishments will comply with the developed instructions.

Protocols that the participants of the pilot plan must follow flawlessly:

  • Full implementation, compliance, and fixation of security protocols.
  • After the development of pilot safety plans, the relevant document must be submitted to the city municipality for approval.
  • The opening hours for each gambling establishment must comply with public order requirements set by the government and the municipality.
  • Failure to comply with the measures that were taken by the National Police Code, the casinos will witness fines of up to 10,000 minimum daily wages. In some cases, a casino can also cease commercial activities, and its head can receive a prison sentence of 4 to 8 years.

Cartago’s municipality has more than 10 land-based casinos that have become permanent work for hundreds of residents. Therefore, local authorities must pay maximum attention to ensure the safety of each employee and guests who visit gambling establishments. While gambling houses were utterly closed due to Covid-19, the economy witnessed a tax shortfall of more than 49 million euros. This is a genuine blow to many government programs. Strange as it may sound, though gambling taxes directly fund Colombia’s health care system.

Moreover, the gaming industry is the primary source of income for more than 240,000 families living in Colombia. The government’s measures are an attempt to get out of the difficult economic situation and help people return to their jobs.

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