The forthcoming legalisation of sports betting in more Latin America countries is a long-term gamble that keeps global industry participants at the edge of their seats. A region characterised by its passion for sports , particularly football, as Colombia has demonstrated since introducing legislation in 2016, the revenue potential for the vertical is very high.
But it is to Brazil that the attentions inevitably shift, as illustrated by an exclusive discussion with Camilo Millon, Head of Sales, Latam at Kiron; Chris Nikolopoulous, CCO at Betby; Bobby Longhurst, CCO at Pronet; and Boris Chaikin, CEO of Soft2Bet, about the prospects on the Brazilian market and the benefits that regulations could bring to the country.
The four experts agreed that Colombia was setting the pace for Latin America sports betting as well as a model for the State ‘s performance in a financial, player safety and revenue context.
“Encouraged by the success of Colombia, more and more countries are moving to legalise online sports betting and introduce frameworks to foster its rapid growth,” said Millon. However, he stressed that Brazil will be the one to trigger the vertical as “another significant impact of sports betting legalisation there, if all goes well, is the potential domino effect across the region as other countries look to emulate its success.”
The leaders highlighted Argentina, Mexico and Peru as the next jurisdictions to be controlled to meet Brazil’s business expectations. This move, they said, can only be taken once Brazil shows that the conditions are favourable for the industry to grow.
The motivation in the Portuguese-speaking nation lies in the fact that there are more than 200 million people living there — and they are really interested in soccer. The legal sports betting market is currently estimated to produce revenue of about $1bn.
Nikolopoulous added: “Brazil could herald the beginning of a thrilling new commercial rush in the region. The seventh largest nation by population suddenly opening up to sports betting would be seen as a can’t miss opportunity.”
The Betby CCO added that while we still have a long way to go, “Brazil has an excellent example to follow in neighbour Colombia. Coljuegos has widely been lauded as a model regulator, benefiting all parties to create a safe betting environment.”
According to Nikolopoulous, what will happen in the South American nation would be on par with the explosion of crime that happened in the United States after the elimination of PASPA. This is why it would be a demand from owners, suppliers and players to provide a robust legislation this contemplates and protects the rights of all interested parties.
Companies would have to stand out for gaining market share with rising global competition. “A simplified product will be key, as will local favourites like video-bingo,” said Longhurst. “From a marketing perspective, more above-the-line brand focused campaigns will be important too, as opposed to the predilection for digital brand building that we see in Europe.”
Pronet’s CCO clarified that Brazil might follow the direction of Colombia, as it came up with “a set of technical regulations that bear a striking resemblance to those first implemented in Spain just under 10 years ago.”
“A similar route in Brazil and elsewhere would benefit operators and suppliers alike. Whatever they decide, those who can move quickly to implement new technical regulations, be nimble on corporate structure and play the long game on investment, will be those who are the most likely to succeed In Latin America.”
Chaikin, repeating Longhurst ‘s thoughts, stressed the “unparalleled historic and cultural significance of sport” for the growth of betting in the area, and also spoke about potential verticals that will gain prominence in Latin America. Following even the measures taken by Colombia, which extended its legal offer during the pandemic, “virtual sports will boost revenue in the face of challenging economic circumstances.”
Amid these examples, Soft2Bet ‘s CEO confirmed that “the continent could be on track to duplicate the drastic upsurge in activity that followed PASPA’s US repeal.”
Kiron recently, in collaboration with local operator BetPlay, became the first supplier of virtual sports in Colombia. “We have been enthused by the encouraging response from local players to our portfolio, which has significantly raised our already high expectations for the region,” said Millon.
As the Head of Sales said, the growth of sports in the area “sets the scene for a flourishing sports betting industry on which virtuals will subsequently thrive.” Millon claims that “the high-frequency nature of virtual games allows punters to enjoy their favourite sports with almost instant results, serving as the perfect crossover solution that appeals to all traditional sports bettors and new generation players.”
The four executives reinforced the need to regulate the industry in Brazil, and the rest of Latin America, to protect and provide citizens with protection, and to generate capital for the state in the post-COVID period, in an attractive foreign investment environment that allows local business growth. This will be the moment the area is the focal point of this decade’s sports betting.