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Analysis and Prospects of the LATAM Online Gambling Market

Over the last couple of years, we have witnessed somewhat of an arms race in iGaming. Certainly, the US providing more than an interesting insight into the future of the dynamic industry. The LATAM gambling market, or the one we will discuss today, is expected to be the next big thing in the online gambling industry and holds the potential to eclipse the US.

Interestingly, each of these markets has its own differentials, considering numerous variables. In addition, there are certain states in the US that are yet to legalize online gambling of any form, and, of course, this could well hamper its position in the global hierarchy of the iGaming industry.

The LATAM market is considered fertile and still yet to fully mature, though, with a population in excess of 670 million people, this highlights the staggering potential of this corner of the world.

For the past two to three years, we have really seen the LATAM market develop in the industry, though what is, perhaps, a little-known fact is that Colombia released its first gaming regulations back in 2016, which led to cooperation with operators around the world.

Subsequently, other markets soon followed suit in the years after this, causing an almost domino effect. LATAM countries quickly began to realize the gambling potential of the Latin market.

LATAM gambling market

Emerging Trends in the LATAM Online Gambling Industry

Around the time, or not long after, when Colombia regulated itself in the online gambling industry, the UK, and by extension, the wider European market, was thriving. Meanwhile, a couple of states in the US, mainly New Jersey and Pennsylvania, were starting to show particular signs of popularity.

Until that point in time, the UK was billed as the biggest global market. In the years that followed, other countries in Latin America have come to the fore, passing their own regulation in a bid to keep up with the burgeoning economy of Colombia.

As such, it has seen the likes of Brazil and Argentina receive gambling regulation, with the former certainly proving that it could well be one to watch over the next few years, especially considering that it is an emerging nation.

In South America, at least, Colombia, Brazil and Argentina are considered to be the main three countries in the online gambling industry. That being said, there are also the likes of Peru and Paraguay that allow residents to participate as well, mainly via operators which have a license from the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA).

Each country has its own advantages when it comes to how successful the industry may be in those markets over the next few years. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of each one.

Argentina

Boasting a population of almost 45 million people, it is the continent’s fourth-largest country and second-biggest economy. Similar to the US, which regulates online gambling by state, in Argentina, this is done by province, with two in Buenos Aires being the first to offer this. It meant that each foreign operator had to partner with a land-based casino or bingo premises in order to provide their services.

It is estimated that the industry is worth $2.4 billion in annual revenues to the country, this being a huge boost to the economy in the form of taxation from gambling operators. The province of Buenos Aires taxes operators 25 percent of their Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR), which is particularly substantial when considering some states in the US have levies of between 10 and 20 percent.

In addition, and perhaps crucially, the country also taxes gambling advertising, with restrictions in place to ensure that advertisements do not come into contact with minors or have misleading information.

Brazil

For the last couple of decades, the whole world has essentially been waiting for Brazil to stir from its stupor in many different industries when considering the sheer amount of natural resources that it has at its disposal.

Being easily the largest country in South America and the most populous, an online gambling bill was passed in 2018 after two years of negotiation. However, it is still yet to really take off in a major way, with the industry not quite fully regulated in terms of what you are allowed to do. Lotteries and jockey clubs appear to be the only form at the moment.

However, it is anticipated that this will really take off, with online sports betting understood to be one of the forms of gambling that dominates the industry and is likely to be the largest in South America for this.

Boasting a population of over 200 million, 63 percent of this number is anticipated to have access to mobile technology, while it is a country that has always historically had a passion for sports, football in particular.

Brazil has been watched closely by the whole industry for the last couple of years, believing the country could become one of the largest markets in the world; possibly even rivaling the US, and it could be worth over $1 billion.

Colombia

Arguably the biggest online gambling market in Latin America, Colombia has a population of over 50 million people and is the fourth biggest economy in South America. That being said, perhaps astonishingly, only 56 percent have access to mobile technology.

It is clear to understand the appeal, especially from a sports betting aspect, due to Colombia’s major passion for football. The figures speak for themselves. In 2021, it was estimated that the GGR for Colombia was almost $300 million, with an 18 percent increase from the following year.

The market in the country will only continue to get bigger over time, especially as more and more live casinos and sportsbooks have licenses approved.

Costa Rica

Despite there being no official gambling regulation in the country, betting is still quite popular and has attracted many different operators from around the world. Considering the lack of taxation as an additional benefit, more than 450 operators are based in Costa Rica.

It is certainly an interesting market to watch, especially as banks, one of the most trusted payment methods located within the country, do not process gambling transactions; whether this will change over the next few years is unknown.

Mexico

Potentially rivaling Colombia as the biggest market in Latin America, Mexico essentially has untapped potential and will only continue to get bigger. Over the last couple of years, Mexico has attracted some major gambling companies, especially those that operate in the US market.

With a population of over 120 million people, with a 60 percent mobile penetration rate, this could certainly increase over the next few years as WiFi infrastructure improves.

Gambling companies that wish to operate in Mexico, though, need a land-based partner, which has increased the competition for those vying to offer their services.

Paraguay

Unbeknown to many, the country only has one online sports betting operator, which is believed to bring in an estimated $4 million every year by way of taxation.

This is definitely an interesting market to keep an eye on, especially if the regulator decides to open up to foreign operators, considering the sheer amount of money that could be generated for it.

Gambling in South America

What Is the Future of Online Gambling in Latin America?

To suggest that the online gambling market in LATAM has reached its peak would be naive, considering the significant amount of potential that it has. Of course, Colombia is the front-runner in the market, and it is likely that it will continue to hold its own, certainly for the next year or so.

However, Brazil’s potential is frightening, particularly when factoring in the amount of development that it is making in related industries, such as telecommunications and fintech, which can further aid its online gambling ambitions. It could become the next thriving market for online sports betting after the US, with football, in particular, being essentially a religion in the country and UFC being also on the rise.

Argentina will continue to go from strength to strength and, as is often the case in multiple countries, many operators have partnered with the country’s major football clubs in a bid to raise brand awareness, which appears to have paid dividends over the last couple of years.

Argentina will continue to go from strength to strength and, as is often the case in multiple countries, many operators have partnered with the country’s major football clubs in a bid to raise brand awareness, which appears to have paid dividends over the last couple of years.

Over the next few years, LATAM could rival the US as the world's biggest gambling market, and no one should be surprised.

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