Normality is gradually established in Colombian casinos after the forced closure due to the coronavirus crisis. The Ministry of the Interior has authorized the opening of casinos and gambling halls in the country, always under strict security measures. It has not yet been approved, however, in the next few weeks Colombia will reopen some casinos after COVID. Decree 1,076, of July 28, 2020, allows the mayors of “Non-COVID Municipalities” to implement pilot plans for the reopening of casinos. According to this decree, the “Non-COVID Municipalities”, those that are free of the virus, may implement pilot plans to reopen the establishments. The Colombian Government establishes four groups, zones without COVID, of low, moderate and high affectation. The Government together with the mayors of the municipalities must authorize the casinos to reopen.
Strict security protocols
Casinos, bingo halls and game rooms may open to the public as long as they comply with the security protocols established by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection. Among the measures adopted is the interpersonal social distance of two meters between the players. In addition, casinos must install spacers between the slot machines and make sure that the roulettes, tables or slots are at a minimum distance of two meters. Cleaning and disinfection of any machine or device between one client and another is also mandatory. As well as cleaning chairs, tables or any other contact surface. The casinos, game rooms and bingo halls will have hydroalcoholic gel dispensers both at the entrance of the establishment and inside. The sale of alcoholic beverages and food inside the establishments is prohibited.
Crisis in the gaming sector
Colombia will reopen some casinos after COVID, 110 days of mandatory preventive isolation. In these almost four months of forced closure, it is estimated that approximately 900 bingo halls and casinos have closed due to the coronavirus crisis. According to Evert Montero Cárdenas, president of Fecoljuego, the gaming sector “has stopped transferring about $ 165,000 million to the State, for exploitation rights and VAT.”
The gaming sector in Colombia generates around 600 billion euros in taxes and employs about 60,000 people. The opening of casinos and betting shops in Spain took place on July 1. In Spain, it is estimated that in five weeks of confinement, the face-to-face gaming sector stopped earning more than 560 million euros. According to Estudio de Sociología Consultores, the health crisis of COVID-19 has destroyed more than 10,000 direct jobs and 15,000 jobs in the hospitality sector. It is estimated that the sector has generated 31% less of its annual income.