t is widely accepted that Latin America together with Africa are the next big markets in online gaming. More money than Africa, basically the same language spoken all over the continent (save for Brasil). So why doesn’t anything happen?
First and foremost lies political reasons behind the legislation lagging behind. The conservative right vs the liberal left in most countries are at edge about allowing gaming stating gambling addiction and “sin” vs tax claims for the country.
Colombia is the first country in Latin America to issue a comprehensive, new and inclusive legislation for online gambling, and it has paid off. Gaming is getting big. Sports betting is taking off and the fervor for soccer shows in the bottom line of the betting industry. Casino games are slowly taking off as well, since operators know that between games and in half time, there are ways to make more money. Casino games offer that opportunity. And that earlier there were lots of illegal videoslots or street machines in the country. Legislation is firm, but it is fairly easy to get a license there as long as you meet the technical requirements (having transaction and user information servers located in Colombia to which the tax authorities have access, have a legally constituted company in the country and meet the financial requirements). Curacao-based licenses are not allowed anymore, where the government does ip-blocking and other measures like high fines for players that play on international casinos.
Mexico has a gaming law from 1947 to which they have amended clauses that today allow for online gaming. Online operators are few but they are increasing. Biggest is caliente.mx. Sportsbetting is their forte but they are advancing quickly when it comes to casino games. Nearly 400 (legal) landbased establishments exist, and probably twice as many illegal ones. Grey casinos are allowed through a lax advertising law, and big operators like Betson and other exist offering games in Spanish to Mexican customers, but through a Curacao license. Other platforms existent here are Btobet and SBTech, Oryx Gaming but probably also BetConstruct and a few more. A couple of operators have their own platforms. Interesting is that there are only 34 Mexican legal licences, that can only be given to landbased operators. But these landbased operators can sublet their licenses to one or several online operators for a fee and revshare, and this is the way most legal online operators work. Potentially a very big market.
Peru is an interesting market in itself. There are some 15-20 online operators, and playing through a Curacao license is “allowed” as it is in a grey market. Landbased casinos and gaming venues are huge (and regulated) with some 85 000 machines installed in 740 venues and 22 casinos with game tables. Tax income for those amounted over 100 MUSD for the Peruvian government.
Argentina has a very conservative market that could potentially be huge, but due the the ever-changing government and fluctuating currency with several exchange rates until recently, the different provencies give licenses. It is – very much like the US – illegal to play online in non-licensed provinces, so closing igaming portals is fairly common.
Brazil can be said to be the enigma of Latin America. It is the presumably biggest market in all of the region, but all online gaming is illegal, as is land based gambling, except for lotteries and horse racing. It is estimated that there are over 200 000 illegal machines/terminals in Brazil, and that online gambling and betting amounts to a few billion dollars every year. Money that the government can’t tax since it escapes into different offshore tax havens, mostly through Curacao licenses. Again, like Mexico, a loophole in the law allows for marketing by offshore operators to market directly to Brazilian population through TV ads, magazine ads, etc. The last few years, an effort has been made by some legislators to allow online gaming, but this effort has met tough opposition especially from the conservative right in senate and house of representatives. With the political turmoil sit presidents being impeached, etc, these measures seem to always be put in the back burner. When Brazil opens, it will be one of the biggest betting and casino markets in the world.
Chile suffers from the same syndrome as many other Latinamerican markets. Only landbased gaming is allowed and Curacao-licensed operators are allowed.
Venezuela is also one of the big markets in Latin America, even though it is living through some tough times right now. Venezuelans are avid sports betters and baseball as well as soccer and basketball are huge sports there. The biggest problem at this moment is getting money out of the country, few if any betting or igaming operators want to start marketing Venezuela as a big market, but my personal prediction is it will be one of the big ones within 2-3 years.
Surinam, Panama, Costa Rica allow for online gaming, but markets are small. Most Costa Rican operators get players from the US which is not so good and should be avoided.
Is LatAm big enough for a try to enter it? Definitely. The amount of money generated in the above mentioned countries by either local licenses or Curacao-licenses are worth procuring in my eyes. It will one time be one of the fastest growing markets in the world.