In his opening speech to delegates at Juegos Miami 2018 on Wednesday, Evert Montero Cardenas, president of Colombian trade body Fecoljuegos, emphasised the importance the gaming industry could have to improving the Colombian economy.

The rousing opening address acted as a perfect follow up on Cardenas’ pre-show statement in which he said: “2017 was a year of significant growth for the gaming industry in Latin America. With the regulation of online gaming in Colombia in late 2016, and the hard work that regional regulators across the board are doing to create safe, business-friendly markets, the next few years will undoubtedly be definitive in the development of the industry.”

Talking about the current economic climate in the country, he explained that 2017 had seen a major drop in growth, but that there had been recovery this year, emphasising that moving forward growth will continue to be conservative.

Cardenas the highlighted the important role that gaming can play in the Colombian economy, saying that current revenues from gaming were circa $2.5bn, with $523m of that going to the treasury. Many families depend indirectly on the revenue coming from the gaming sector he said; it has a major social impact and that has to be messaged better.

Extending that theme, he warned that the good reputation of Colombia’s gaming industry was of utmost importance. We have to change the linguistic code, he told delegates. We have to raise the bar and change the relationship that we have with the banks and the legislators. The nation’s tax regime would also benefit from being revisited, he added. Technical aspects and structure need to be looked at so that the tax regime can remain sustainable.