South America’s sports betting industry has been a key growth market, for both domestic and international gaming companies, for a number of years.
As regulation evolves across the region, so does the opportunity for sportsbook brands to find sustainable growth. The likes of Colombia and Mexico have led the way, in terms of creating robust regulatory frameworks, and there is plenty more to come in the shape of Peru, Brazil and others.
“There is still much more to come in terms of growth”
Recognising the journey towards maturity the LATAM sector is on, sports betting supplier Betgenius has strengthened its position in the region through Alonso Jibaja. Appointed as head of business development for LATAM, he spoke to SBC Americas regarding why it is becoming increasingly targeted: “South America has always been attractive to operators and software providers, but there is still much more to come in terms of growth.
“You could say it’s the starting phase right now. The market is building up but is still some way behind, for example, European markets, when it comes to technology and innovation.
“Of course there are international brands that have been in the region for many years which has grown the sector, but the local brands have a huge opportunity still. To do this they will need to compete with the world’s best in terms of product, marketing and UX.”
Regulation is key
But first and foremost, regulation is key. Jibaja says all stakeholders must stay ahead of fast-moving regulation, and be ready to rapidly move into new territories. Working in close collaboration with a variety of regulators, Jibaja details that Betgenius, as part of the larger Genius Sports Group, stresses how sports integrity must underpin any regulated betting market.
Jibjaja added: “This experience of Coljuegos introducing online gaming regulation in Colombia is being closely analysed by the Peru government, to understand the policies that would work for them and perhaps what wouldn’t.
“Brazil would be a game-changer for the region”
“Meanwhile Brazil, which is a slightly different case to Peru, has the potential to be a huge market. As a business that only work with operators in regulated territories, it is natural we are keeping extremely close to these processes.
“Brazil would be a game-changer for the region. Regulation would potentially not only allow operators and suppliers to operate legally in the market, but it will also attract investors from other parts of the world, especially Americans, to open large, Vegas-style casino resorts that would bring not only entertainment, but also tourism.”
For both operators and suppliers in the market, understanding the nuances of each country, such as the sports and markets people like to bet on, will become increasingly important. As you might expect, football is the dominant sport throughout, however, shrewd bookmakers are investing in a broad range of sports, particularly for in-play.
“Besides football, we are also seeing significant growth in tennis, volleyball and basketball,” says Jibaja. “It depends on the country and where they are based, that the interest in different sports changes.
“From Colombia all the way down it’s mainly football, and from Colombia all the way up to Mexico, they love American sports, basketball, baseball and horseracing. Each operator must tailor their offering to the relevant audience.”
“But above all it is vital for operators to start thinking about differentiation. As the market matures competition is going to get stiffer, and it then becomes all about standing out as a brand and growing loyalty.
“In order to optimise operations, we believe sportsbooks with long-term ambitions must have the power to decide which parts of their operations they keep control of versus outsource. LATAM is certainly no different.”
“South America is the market where everyone wants to be right now!”
With a World Cup also on the horizon, featuring a largely unfancied Panama side alongside Peru, competing in the competition for the first time in 36 years, LATAM operators have a global event to leverage interest, with Jibaja suggesting turnover could spike by as much as a third for many bookmakers during the tournament.
But the World Cup is a drop in the ocean compared to the larger opportunity to grow brand equity and recognition in this region. With a population in excess of 420 million the enormous possibilities for South America are clear. “South America is the market where everyone wants to be right now,” says Jibaja.