With many changes happening in the past decade and the consistent results of the European market, Latin American countries are recognizing the benefits of the iGaming industry, and are gradually facilitating the regulation and activation of this sector of the economy
One of the proverbial spotlights of the industry today shines brightly towards the west, on Latin America. The continent consists of 20 countries and 14 independent territories, all of which differ from each other, yet all of which share some sort of common culture. The vast majority of the people in these countries share two main languages, Spanish and Portuguese, where very interestingly, the equivalent to the English word ‘gambling’, only translates itself as ‘juego’ in Spanish or ‘jogos de azar’ in Portuguese, both essentially coming from the word that means ‘to play’.
This is key in addressing the gradual shift of the industry to the Latin market, because if we are to take language as the most reliable mirror of the ideas, values, and thoughts of a culture, then their attitude to the European concept of gambling will be different. In order to properly introduce the industry to LatAm there needs to be a learning curve that is assimilated that
- Doesn’t underestimate the difference in cultures of the countries in the continent and the difference in laws and attitudes towards gambling,
- Studies thoroughly the local gambling culture and its relation to their love of sport,
- Understands that having Spanish/Portuguese content is a great start, but it is not everything.
Apart from sports, the favorited gaming go-to in LatAm seems to have been land casinos, and this is an important fact to consider. But in the past year a lot of these establishments closed due to Covid-19, and this generated a lot of discussion on whether it will cause a rise in the digital world of gambling. A perfect example of this is the Argentinian Casino Club—one of the largest operators in Latin America —launching Zitro Games in the beginning of Summer 2020, offering an online portfolio with a wide range of different experiences for players. This is just one example of one single country from a whole continent, and so it would be a good idea to briefly go over some of the other major countries that are front runners in the iGaming race of LatAm!
This is the first country to be addressed simply because it was the first country to fully regularize online gambling market back in 2016, and it still is the only one to have done so to date. The process of approval triggered the ambition to regulate virtual sports and live casinos, and lead to the end of thousands of illegal gambling operations, which in itself brings a lot of hope to the other LatAm countries.
Naturally, the country is popular for its love of sports betting, yet it is also home to an estimate of 80 land casinos harboring bingo rooms, roulette, card games and slot-filled arcades, and a variety of high-luxury impressive resorts in the capital city, which also recently was the first city to legalize online betting.
The synonymity of Brazil with football comes as no surprise and so of course the country has become famous for its love of sports betting, particularly the latter sport, but it still has very strict gambling regulations, and in fact sports betting was regularized not too long ago. Over the past year the government seems to have started to work on developing laws that will regulate online gambling, casino resorts and bingo joints. The country has a population of around 209 million people which means that the regulating of gambling will have major effects on the industry there, having operators rush to sponsor sporting occasions and raising the hype of sports in the country around the world. To confirm the validity of this gradual process one only has to look at the Brazilian boom in gambling during the coronavirus lockdown.
Peru is quite a betting haven, since online gambling for instance has been regulated in 2008 and there are barely any laws to hinder it, making it a great example for countries in the process of allowing regulation. Their implementing process was clear, efficient and holding accurate considerations of its effects, which is why it was such a success. Not only that, but the simultaneous digitalization of Peru has also helped in accelerating economic growth, and in shifting the social fabric, starting from something as simple as having businesses place themselves online and having an opportunity to start over and redefining themselves, to the people having increased awareness and access to online gambling platforms, and not just from Peru!
Chile was hit badly with COVID-19 and so was the local gambling establishments, which were made to close their casinos in order to help stop the spreading of the virus. Since online gambling is currently illegal in Chile, investors and stakeholders were calling for regulations so that they can get some kind of compensation and recover from the pandemic’s economic crisis. In return the government allowed the automatic renewals of 14 casino operating licenses that were meant to expire in 2020. Alongside this the government also gave permission to develop a sort of closed-parameter, remote gambling platform to assist in the covid-19 battle.
Mexico has been known for its dated gambling laws for years and after a lot of debate, there was first a slow rise in online gambling and then in 2004 they started to slowly loosen the gaming laws, particularly allowing establishments to only cater for foreign players, and banning citizens from using it. On the other hand foreign bookmakers were welcome to offer their services and so having such a vast choice of Spanish-speaking platforms, Mexican players have no problem in finding and enjoying games of their liking.
Clearly Latin America is experiencing a rising wave of changes in legislation that are opening up the continent’s shores to great many possibilities and growth, having a very high interested number of locals, daring thrill-seeking tourists, and of course ambitious operators who will want a piece of the cake. All that remains now is for foreign investors to attend to the process of localization with immense clarity and care, adopting proven and successful methods whilst tending to the needs of the people and of their culture.
At SiGMA LatAm, this is what we are trying to achieve. This September, through our virtual conference, we are starting a new venture in the beautiful Latin American continent, where we hope to gather investors and interested parties and invite them to see the potential of the countries. And again, the differences between the six countries addressed above are enough to show the importance of dealing with each and every country separately in coming up with the best ways for European veterans of the industry to move in, create economic growth, and integrate with the local counterparts.
Following the successful launch of SiGMA Europe (Malta) and SiGMA Asia (Manila), we’re now launching the inaugural SiGMA AMERICAS, covering all three major timezones. The inaugural edition is set for September 22-24, 2020 with a virtual summit focusing on two themes: SiGMA AMERICAS for the Gaming industry and AIBC AMERICAS for the Emerging Tech industry. We wanted to provide fresh content, to help you navigate through these turbulent times. If you’re exploring Americas as a new frontier or wondering which tech solutions to embrace, we've got you covered: Tune in on September 22-24, 2020.