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Colombia's Coljuegos awards first iGaming licence

The first operator has been approved to launch online gaming under Colombia's new iGaming regulations, just days before the country’s blacklist of unlicensed operators comes into force.
Colombian gaming regulator Coljuegos has approved a subsidiary of Medellin-based gaming machine business Aquila Global Group, to launch a regulated offering under the WPlay.co brand.
WPlay is expected to generate around 3,000 jobs directly and indirectly in its first year of operation, Coljuegos says. Around COP15bn (€4.4m) is to be invested in the country over the course of the contract's first three years, with Aquila Global looking to attract 1m players over the term of its licence.
This effectively marks the opening of Colombia's regulated iGaming market, with the regulator expecting to announce a number of other new licensees in due course.
All companies capable of complying with the financial, technical and legal requirements set out by Coljuegos – including a 15 per cent net revenue tax – can apply for a licence. Once approved, companies can offer sports betting, casino games and poker to customers in the country.
The market's opening aims to generate more funding for public health projects, with Coljuegos president Juan Pérez Hidalgo estimating that around COP8bn will be generated across all licensees in the market's first full year.
"Through this initiative we are seeking greater resources to protect the health of Colombians, expanding the portfolio of games that are offered legally and keeping up to date with the trend towards new technology," he explained.
In order to channel players towards regulated sites, Coljuegos is also launching a crackdown on unlicensed gaming domains, having published a blacklist of more than 300 sites in March this year. In the coming days Coljuegos, supported by the  Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies (TIC) and the Colombian police, will order internet service providers to block access to these sites.
"We are aware that the fight against illegality is not an easy task, and is even less so with regard to technological platforms," Pérez Hildalgo continued. "That is why we are working in coordination with the National Police and the Ministry of Defence.


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