Colombia’s capital is restarting the brick-and-mortar gaming sector amid fears that a second novel coronavirus wave may hit South America. The Mayor of Bogotá has ordered the restart of the city’s gaming sector, a decision that affects 515 casinos and 17 bingo halls.
According to Mayor Claudia López, venues may begin reopening but while still complying with safety and health measures. The announcement, however excludes bars, night clubs, dance venues, concert halls, as well as other indoors spaces designed to host large groups and gatherings, which will remain closed until further notice.
While casinos and bingo halls will be allowed to operate every day, there will be specific conditions issued in relation to their operating capacity as well as health codes and hours of admission.
All of these would be drafted by Colombia’s Ministry of Health. The ministry already drafted overall guidelines for ensuring consumers and staff safety back in August. In addition, casinos will have to use physical separators to make sure that players cannot infect each other while playing games.
Enhanced disinfection protocols have to be in place to ensure that the risk of contamination is kept to a minimum. Expectedly, the consumption of alcohol and food on the premises of the casino floor is strictly prohibited and there will be time limits as to how much time players can spend on the gaming floor.
Bogotá Seeks to Recover Revenue and Pilot Reopening Plan
Bogotá is not the first city in the country to push for the reopening of the casino industry which is an important source of revenue for the country, and individual municipalities. In light of this, municipalities have been tasked with handling the reopening on their own.
The government has not worked on a framework to allow a nationwide phase in reopening. Bogotá was in fact the third city to propose reopening plans, after Cartago and Medelin in August.
Should casinos in Bogotá reopen some 7,000 employees will be allowed to return back to work. Another plus of the reopening is Colombia’s healthcare system, which depends on contributions from gambling. With casinos open, the popular wisdom is that more money will go to healthcare to prepare the country for a potential second wave.
So far, Bogotá has missed out on an estimated $17.16 million of revenue towards its own healthcare system according to one estimate comparing year-over-year results. Fecoljuegos, an industry organization, has explained that having the biggest city draft opening plans was a sure-fire mark towards the normalization of the casino industry in the country.
Fecoljuegos expects what it describes to be a swift recovery for the Colombian casino and gaming industry.