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Why gambling companies should target Latin America in 2019

First Posted: Jan 28, 2019 01:35 PM EST
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The gambling market is one of the world's biggest economic success stories. It's projected to be worth around $525 billion by 2023, with an increasing chunk of the growth coming from the online sector. Valued at nearly $60 billion in its own right, the online gambling market's success lies in its appeal to a wealth of players across the world - thanks to the immersive gameplay and sheer convenience it offers.

The online gambling industry is constantly evolving and for 2019 and beyond, this important sector of commerce is looking to build. In recent months it's been clear that there is a tendency to focus on national and regional markets. Thanks to the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the ban on sports betting, the US is where many experts are expecting the next wave of online gambling growth to occur.

However, there are opportunities further down the Americas - in Latin America. While restrictions remain in some countries, others are open and thriving in terms of betting and gambling. Let's look at how operators might look target new customers in this region.

How popular is gambling in Latin America?

The most recent set of revenue statistics date from June 2018 and they show Mexico to be the most active Latin American country in regards to gambling. Alongside Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Chile have been identified as the three other biggest countries for gambling in Latin America. Argentina has the most gambling operators of them all, and although these numbers mainly represent land-based casinos - the online industry is watching with interest.

In total there are 33 countries in the region - with a population of the content approaching some 600 million - so there's a huge audience out there. What's more, travel and tourism is booming in the region - at a rate of 5.1% per annum between 2010 and 2020 - which highlights the potential for gambling tourism.

One notable industry report has shown that the nine biggest countries in the region are generating $33 billion in revenue on an annual basis. Meanwhile, the total amount from both legal and illegal activities was listed at $150 billion. Those are huge figures, particularly when compared to other areas around the world, illuminating the gains gambling operators could make in the region.

The success of online gambling in other nations

In the UK, figures released in August 2017 indicated that the gambling industry was poised to break the £14 billion mark. The numbers include takings from the country's national lottery, online gambling and stakes in physical betting shops. Around 38% of this revenue comes from the remote gambling sector - making it the largest contributor to the gambling economy. The UK is somewhere online gambling has been allowed to thrive, albeit in a heavily regulated market.

As previously mentioned, over in the US, the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the PASPA ruling and allow individual states to rule on sports betting is a huge talking point in the industry. Projections carried out by researchers at Oxford University suggest that an additional boost of $14 billion could be coming into the economy as a result of the decision. But that's a drop in the ocean when you consider that the black market for sports betting is worth $400 billion. That may be a conservative estimate when it's considered that $4.76 billion is staked in the US on the Super Bowl alone.

The point is that online gambling is a huge financial opportunity across the world - including in Latin America. But how do operators effectively capitalise on this opportunity?

How to target gamblers in Latin America

In order to target any consumer audience, it's important to understand their needs - and this is something the gambling industry historically hasn't done particularly well. For example, many sites have a generic .com website which looks the same whether it's being viewed in Latin America, Europe, Asia or any other part of the world.

Contrast this with a company such as 888 Holdings, which owns a number of popular online iGaming brands. Eponymous companies such as 888Sport and 888Poker have different websites depending on the market they're operating in. Then there are the promotions they offer, which are tailored to the type of reward that people are traditionally motivated towards in a specific region or nation.

One site that does this well is Wink Bingo - one of the UK's leading online gambling operators. While it carries a .com domain name, it is specifically designed to be played by UK customers. The graphics and the overall design of the site have a very modern, quirky but inherently British feel to them, while mentions of entry fees and prize money are all listed in the local currency: GBP. You'll see this, plus a selection of exciting online bingo games, by visiting the Wink Bingo website. This is a clear example to follow for any operator looking to take advantage of the burgeoning Latin American market.

Betting options should be carefully considered, too. Using football as an example, certain divisions such as the English Premier League and Spain's La Liga, will always be popular in any part of the world but beyond those options, plenty of focus must be placed on local competitions. In Mexico, that means the Primera Liga and the Copa Mexico, while on a national scale it's all about the World Cup and the Confederations Cup. Most betting firms will know that football's the main sport in Latin America, so will tailor their bets accordingly.

Appealing to a new generation of gamblers

The key to gambling growth in Latin America lies with millennials - the generation born between 1985 and 2000 who value personalised, innovative experiences online. This is one reason why slots games are so popular today. They're themed around a variety of niches, providing choice for any type of gamer regardless of how varied their interests are.

Also, the ability to choose between multiple touchpoints are important to millennials. Whether they want to play at home on their desktop computer, or on their mobile device when they're on the move - they appreciate having the choice. This will be the case in Latin America too, where millennial expectations are the same as they are in the Western world, and this is again an area gambling operators should consider when approaching consumers.

Summary

While gambling restrictions remain in place across the world, it's true that more and more governments are starting to become wise to the benefits of a legal but regulated gambling industry. Not only does it give players the choice, access and protection they want, but it provides a boost to government coffers - as they can reinvest taxation revenue into valuable public services such as schools, hospitals and transport.

With market growing in Latin America, it's clear why operators are focusing on how they can make the most of the continent's appetite for gambling. While it remains to be seen which one will come out on top, there's no doubt that large operators with experience working internationally have a clear advantage.

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