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Turning up the heat in Latin America

Andrew Morgan, Director of Global Strategy at ICS Media Group, says that Brazil could be one of the largest sports betting markets in the world  

The Latin American market is hotting up as more countries move to legalise online gambling and those already live expand the scale and scope of the products operators can offer. We speak to Andrew Morgan, Director of Global Strategy at ICS Media Group, to find out more. 

Q: Are there any imminent developments we can expect in the Latin America market? 

Andrew: Yes, momentum is really building behind online gambling legislation in Latin America. In Brazil, for example, land-based and online sports betting looks set to become live very soon with some, including GVC CEO Kenny Alexander, heralding the market as having as much potential as the USA. 

In addition to this, online sports betting legislation is pending in Peru and Paraguay while in Buenos Aires we are awaiting the outcome of 14 licence applications that have been submitted to the Provincial Institute of Lottery and Casinos. This includes applications from Paddy Power Betfair, 888, bet365, William Hill and PokerStars, with seven licences up for grabs.

In addition to the above, Colombia has recently legalised virtual sports betting allowing players to wager on RNG sports games 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All of this makes Latin America one of the most exciting online gambling markets to track right now with huge potential on the table as and when regulations fall into place. 

Q: Do you see Brazil as a significant online gambling market? What are the challenges and opportunities? 

Andrew: Brazil will be a significant online gambling market for sure. It has a population of 209 million who are sports mad, especially when it comes to football. That said, the market will be slightly different to what operators in established online gambling jurisdictions are used to. For example, across LatAm the average stake is just $1 but the volume of bets is high. 

Mobile will be the dominant channel of play in Brazil which tops the table of all LatAm countries when it comes to mobile connections, smartphone penetration and 4G. This is because the telcos have excellent coverage and internet costs are very low for users. This combined with a young population – most are under 35 – presents a lucrative market for operators to target. 

The challenge in Brazil will be fostering trust among players. Most Brazilians trust land-based betting shops so online only brands and European betting giants are going to have to build trust by offering players an excellent experience across technology, odds and markets, bonuses and of course the content and information they provide around popular sports. 

Q: When Brazil does go live, will other LatAm countries follow?

Andrew: Gambling is already legal in Colombia, and Peru and Paraguay are currently amending their laws regarding online gambling. Then you have Buenos Aires which is in the process of licensing the 14 operators mentioned above. The rest of Argentina might follow once Brazil has legalised while Peru is land-based so it may expand into online when it sees how things shape up in Brazil, particularly from a legal standpoint. 

Q: How can operators ensure success in the LatAm market? How can they engage the lucrative millennial demographic? 

Andrew: Just like in Europe, Brazilians are looking for a full betting experience and this means operators must offer more than just markets and odds. To succeed, they will need to provide punters with news, updates, features, analysis, guides and interviews around the sports offered. Live information will be of particular importance and it must be easy to digest on mobile. 

For this reason, operators should look to create content hubs that are packed with written information as well as offering audio content such as live radio broadcasts plus video blasts that can be shared via social media. Those that do will be able to properly engage players, foster trust and loyalty and build a successful and popular betting brand over time. 

Q: What trends should they be aware of and what do they need to do to capitalise? 

Andrew: When it comes to the sports offered, football is an absolute must as it is the most popular sport across Brazil and, indeed, other LatAm markets. Fantasy sports is also big across the region and in markets where sports betting is yet to be legalised could provide the catalyst for change as we saw in the United States prior to the PASPA repeal. 

Operators will also have to crack the code when it comes to SEO and understanding user search intent, particularly in Brazil. This will likely mean undertaking extensive research, reworking content strategies and also redesigning the user experience in order to drive conversions. A localised approach will be the only approach for Brazil and other LatAm markets. 

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