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Columbia is famous to outsiders for its massive drug trade, cocaine alone is a $10 billion a year industry, and Columbia produces 43% of the world’s coca, the raw material used to make cocaine. In spite of its reputation, Columbia has recently lost its title as the world’s number one cocaine producer to Peru, although it’s not because this is slowing down here.
Columbia is even more famous for its coffee though, and its agriculture in general, although since the beginning of the 21st century they are becoming more diversified, and have the fourth largest economy in Latin America these days, with a very respectable PPP GDP of about $14,000 per person, spread over a large population of 48 million people. (1)
Columbia has had issues attracting tourists in recent history due to worries about crime and even being kidnapped, but things are improving and they now attract 1.5 million tourists a year, and many come to gamble. (2)
So Columbia has a thriving land based gambling business, with 19 main casinos located in 7 different cities, and many smaller casinos operating illegally, and due to the nature of their operation there isn’t a count of those but it is said to be a substantial amount. (3)
These casinos do tend to be on the smaller side mostly with a total casino floor space of only 3800 square feet, and for comparison, Argentina has ten times more casino floor space.
In spite of having legal gambling here, as most South American countries do these days, gambling isn’t wide open by any means in Columbia and it’s fairly tightly regulated. Only certain forms are allowed, although this does include most modern forms of gambling, but it excludes things like three card monte, where anyone caught playing this can get up to 6 months in prison, or using older slot machines for commercial use, and definitely requires a license, which the many illegal gambling establishments do not possess.
Betting on horse and dog racing is particularly popular here, as is many forms of casino gambling, slots and the usual casino table game fare, including poker, and poker is quite popular in Columbia, both live and online play.
As far as online play goes, given that gambling isn’t completely legal here, and only certain forms are, what is allowed by Columbia’s gambling regulation essentially, the government is of the opinion that online gambling is not legal, however it’s just that the law here doesn’t address this at all as of yet, so operators feel, correctly I would say, that it is legal unless it is deemed not to be, and therefore they continue to offer play to Columbians.
Columbia seems to be planning on regulating online gambling soon and ahead of that it seems to be warning its players to stay away from unlicensed offshore sites, and be wary of things like the fairness of the games, and are claiming that Columbian players need their protection, although that’s ridiculous of course and what they want to do is start taxing this play. (4)
So far there hasn’t been any negative effects of all of this talk though and players here still have full access to offshore gambling and poker sites and continue to play on them widely.
Playing Poker in Columbia
Columbia does have 4 dedicated poker rooms, offering a total of 14 tables, although a lot of the casinos do also have poker on the side, and you may also be able to find some poker at the illegal establishments, although playing at such places is riskier for sure.
Poker in most countries though would be hardly worrying about given the very limited access to live poker in most countries in the world, if not for the ability of people to play online poker, and the worldwide poker scene exploded when online poker became available, brining poker into every home that had access to the internet, which also includes mobile access these days.
Columbia is one of the hotbeds of poker in South America for both though, and there is a fair bit of liver poker that is played here, along with a lot of online poker. Columbia is third among countries in South America with 28.5 million internet users, over 60% of the population, and when you put that together with a willingness to play online poker and complete access to it, this does add up to a lot of poker players. (6)
The Latin American Poker Tour stopped coming to Columbia back in 2010, but this hasn’t slowed down the growth of poker here, and this sort of thing tends to help more where the game is relatively unknown and unpopular, but that’s not the case in Columbia. (7)
The internet is primarily responsible for the growth of poker here and this is expected to continue as more and more people try out the game and end up becoming fond of it. This may change if and when we see regulation of online gambling and poker here, and we do know that the Columbians are rather fond of regulation and aren’t shy to do so, so the online poker market may end up being driven underground at some point.
So this doesn’t mean that players won’t have access, but what tends to happen here is that some poker sites at least will stop offering poker to players in countries where it is not allowed, although there are always some that still choose to do so, and there are ways around whatever the government wants to throw up, including attempting to block websites and limiting financial transactions with these sites.
So for now things are just perfect here, and regardless of what happens down the road, poker is here to stay in Columbia.
Top Online Poker Sites Accepting Players From Columbia
Columbian online poker players have a full selection of the world’s best online poker sites available to them. So here’s our list of the top 5 online poker sites for Columbians, and each of them offer new players a nice welcome bonus to reward them for trying out their top rated sites.
888 Poker is recognized by many as the world’s finest online poker site, and this has been a great place to play since they opened the place many years ago. They are finally getting the recognition they deserve and offer players a fantastic place to play poker.
Party Poker is another site with lots of traffic and lots of game selection, and lots of player rewards. They also have a long history of success and they also know how to keep their players happy and remaining with them.
Titan Poker and Bet 365 Poker are mentioned together because they both offer the same games and tables, on the very popular iPoker Network, who also offer tons of traffic and very good poker. Both of these sites come highly recommended by us.
Black Chip Poker is relatively new on the block although they have been offering poker for many years now, but people have recently begun to recognize them as a top notch site, including us. This site is worth checking out along with the rest of your picks for you.