In a mass reopening move across Colombia, Floridablanca has become the latest region to announce the restart of its casino industry with nine properties opening first.
Floridablanca Signals Reopening of Gaming Venues
Colombia draws closer to the reopening of its casino gambling industry after another municipality, Floridablanca, revealed plans to allow the region’s gambling facilities to reopen.
The municipality will permit casinos to restart operations following a prolonged shutdown enforced by the central government due to COVID-19. Now, the government has decided to allow every province, city and region to vote and agree on reopening plans.
Floridablanca announced reopening plans on Friday, following Bogotá’s decision to restart operations in 515 casinos and 17 bingo halls, bringing back estimated 7,000 employees to work. Bogotá is not the first city to restart operations in Colombia, though.
Before the capital reveal those plans, the cities of Cartago and Medelin had already announced their own reopening initiatives.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of Tourism and Economic Development for the Floridablanca region, Nicolás Contreras, made a public statement confirming the reopening of nine commercial casinos as Phase 1 of the reopening plan.
COVID-19 Not Gone from Casinos at All
While casinos are allowed to continue some form of operation they would need to comply with enhanced COVID-19 measures to protect both patrons as well as members of the staff. As per the proposed safety measures, casinos will have to install plexiglass protectors at table games and slot machines.
Sanitizing stations and increased frequency of cleaning will also have to be introduced. Casinos will also introduce various signs to help instruct patrons how to ensure that they are protecting themselves and others.
Colombia is one of the worst affected countries by the COVID-19 crisis. The country has had 798,000 total cases at the time of reporting with 687 recovered and 25,103 deaths. Ensuring the safety of patrons is paramount, Contreras said. However, Colombia has been trying to lift restrictions since the beginning of September, citing “stabilization” in COVID-19 cases as the reason why.
However, municipalities and big cities in Colombia need to tap into the big windfall that is generated from enabling gambling casinos to operate. There are some 554 gambling venues in Floridablanca alone, and each employs around 200 people.
The tax revenue generated for healthcare in the region amounts to $86,000, a significant contribution to a cash-strapped public service. Translating the losses during the six-month shutdown period, Floridablanca lost estimated COP2 billion in gambling tax revenue.
The Central Government Delegates Reopening
The government decided to go ahead and allow individual regions and local governments to pursue their own course of reopening. With a decree published by Colombia’s Ministry of Health in late July, the country’s central government delegated the responsibility of reopening certain businesses, including casinos, to local lawmakers.
Meanwhile in August, the Ministry of Health also came up with safety regulations as to how such reopening should restart. With the reopening of casinos, the country’s regulator, Coljuegos, has also been pushing for the introduction of video bingo halls which is expected to officially arrive in the country in 2021.