Colombia Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla has revealed that gambling contributed 0.2% of the country’s total GDP in 2019, equal to approximately $460m.

Carrasquilla said at the Congreso LAFT America 2020 that gambling created more than 111,000 jobs, and that the health and science sectors received around $171m last year.

The minister stressed that gambling has been one of the sectors that have suffered the most during the pandemic, and explained that Legislative Decree 808 “focused on alleviating the pressure on gambling operators,” as local media Dinero reported.

“The Government came up with a relief package to compensate for the fixed rate that they pay for their operations and the six-month postponement, as well as the measure that forced them to reduce the number of slot machines,” he added.

Carrasquilla also said that the second quarter has been historically the worst for the local economy, but he highlighted the government’s work to mitigate the damage caused by the pandemic.

“So far, more than $7bn were provided from the public budget and another $10.8bn in credit guarantees in a context with a sharp fall in tax revenues. This implies an increase in public debt and a fiscal challenge that we will have to face in the short term.”

In addition, the minister spoke about the measures implemented by the sector to prevent illegal gambling, and said that local entities must play an active role to fight money laundering.

“In recent years, Colombia has achieved all international standards in the anti-money laundering area,” he said.