Slobodan Georgijevski, Business Development Manager, BtoBet
With the European market becoming increasingly saturated and fragmented from a regulatory and legislative point of view, it’s little wonder that all eyes are on the Latin American gaming landscape with its unparalleled sports passion, high mobile and internet connectivity, and a tangible shift towards regulation promising huge growth opportunities.
Nonetheless, whilst broad similarities exist between betting markets across the world, operators seeking to diversify and expand in the Latin American region need to consider the level of diversity across the region and how it will impact the products and services they offer. This relates not only to cultural and language differences but also in terms of gambling culture, player preferences and market maturation.
This is particularly noteworthy when one considers that over a protracted period of time many players throughout the entire region have had access primarily to land-based gambling and betting facilities. The same thing applies in terms of content, with operators now required to thoroughly analyse and think about the gambling products that players have had at their disposal in the past. If they don’t bridge this gap correctly there will be a void between what players expect and what operators are offering.
From this aspect Colombia provides a fine example for the entire region of how operators need to adhere to a localised approach, seeking to broaden and diversify progressively the markets they offer to their players. At first the vast majority of operators opted solely for sports betting, completely ignoring other market verticals, due to the local players considering alternative verticals to sports betting as not appealing. Nonetheless over a relatively short period of time, characterised by a learning curve where the players became more familiar with online casino and slot games, the market is registering constant year-on-year growth, with the national regulatory body – Coljuegos – now having also regulated live casinos.
On another note, over the next couple of years, recent trends suggest online and mobile gaming will only increase in Latin America, thus facilitating and pushing towards digitalisation.
Nonetheless operators seeking to expand towards the online channels have to keep in mind that when it comes to online payments, although internet and mobile penetration in the region is high, the proportion of the population that is unbanked is still significant compared with other regions in the world, thus proving to be a possible conundrum. Almost half of the Latin American population doesn’t have a bank account. Many people in Latin America choose to collect their income in cash, which excludes them from the financial system and means many don’t have savings accounts or credit or debit cards. This behaviour is reinforced by local government welfare policies and informal economic circuits, which empower the informal use of cash as the primary tool of trade. Notwithstanding, by 2022 Latin America is likely to have approximately 180m mobile money and payment registered users, with 91.8m active users.
There is no denying that the region’s market potential is immense. With a constantly improving infrastructural context and a widespread regulatory reform across multiple countries set to come into effect in the short to medium term, the growth impetus will be further underlined and emboldened. Nonetheless, the region still requires deep local knowledge and expertise in order for operators to be successful in this huge emerging market.