Latin America has long been regarded as a land of opportunity for the betting and gaming industry, and how to finally realise that potential is set to dominate conference sessions and business discussions at SBC Digital Summit Latinoamérica.
The agenda for the virtual conference and exhibition, which takes place on 16-17 June 2020, explores the opportunities for sportsbook and casino operators, platform and games suppliers, affiliates, and payments providers. Some of the focus will be on proposed regulatory changes and how they will shape markets in the region, but speakers and delegates will also share ideas about how to drive growth in online gambling, land-based casinos and lotteries.
In addition to the conference element of the Summit, delegates will have lots of chances to interact with their fellow attendees and connect with potential business partners during Themed Networking Sessions. Brazil, Mexico and Argentina are among the topics for these networking discussions, which will see local market experts share their knowledge of the best opportunities with executives looking to identify how their companies can expand into Latin America.
It is no surprise that so many international betting and gaming companies are interested in LatAm. Some commentators have suggested the region could be a more lucrative opportunity than the one created by the legalisation of sports betting in many US states. A KPMG report estimated that the GGR from the Brazilian market alone could be worth US$2.1 billion a year, with Argentina and Peru also offering huge potential if they get regulation right.
The success of the region’s first regulated online gambling market in Colombia over the last three years has generated further excitement about the prospects for the region. However, despite impressive year-on-year growth, online still represents a small part of the total Colombian gambling industry and relatively few major international operators have chosen to obtain licences.
It is a different story in Mexico, where the likes of Bet365, 1xBet and Betway have entered the market by partnering with local companies to take advantage of legislation that allows licensed land-based operators to offer online sportsbook and casino products.
The differences in the approach of multinational operators to Colombia and Mexico illustrates perhaps the most important thing that businesses looking to expand into the region need to understand – there is no overarching LatAm opportunity, no route to market that will succeed in every country and no homogeneous product set that will appeal to the entire region.
Instead, both operators and suppliers should consider the region as a series of local market opportunities, each with its own regulatory position, tastes and technological infrastructure. As platform suppliers that have already established a presence in some Latin American markets have discovered, localisation is the key to success.
Take the example of Altenar, the Malta-based sportsbook software and services supplier which is among the exhibitors at SBC Digital Summit Latinoamérica. It entered the market in Colombia by launching a fully-managed sports betting solution for Wplay, the country’s first licensed online sportsbook.
Dinos Stranomitis, Altenar’s COO, told SBC Americas: “Wplay’s success is largely due to the focus on localisation. While other providers tried to introduce European methods into Colombia, Altenar listened to local voices and designed a sportsbook specifically for Wplay. It’s not just about differentiating the offering for Latin America as a whole, but paying attention to differences within the region itself.
“While Altenar is also active in Mexico via its partnership with Playdoit, developing products suitable for the two markets wasn’t simply a matter of looking at what worked in one and transferring it to the other – Colombia is a completely different market from Mexico.”
The conference agenda and programme of themed networking events at SBC Digital Summit Latinoamérica will reflect that fact, and the expert speakers taking part will outline some of the key considerations for individual markets. From regulation and taxation to what sports and games are traditionally popular, through to how media is consumed and the most suitable marketing strategies, delegates have the chance to pick up a wealth of useful insights on the countries they are targeting for expansion.
One of the conference sessions is ‘Behind the Scenes of Brazil’s New Regulatory Framework’, which will focus on the Latin American nation that has generated the highest expectations among the international betting and gaming industry. The panel will see Waldir Marques of regulator SECAP joined by Arthur Silva (Head of Sports Operations, Sportsbet.io) and Magnho José Santos de Souza (President, Instituto Brasileño de Juego Legal) to examine how the final version of the planned regulation of the gambling market may look and whether the legislation will allow the Brazilian market’s potential to be unlocked.
There will also be a dedicated ‘Gaming in Brazil’ virtual networking session to make it easy for operators, suppliers and affiliates to connect. At April’s SBC Digital Summit, Betsson Suaposta’s Managing Director Andre Gelfi suggested that the involvement of the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) in developing the regulatory framework could mean that established local companies were prioritised over international ones. If that is the case, the chance to build relationships with stakeholders in Brazil could prove particularly valuable.
The discussion during the networking session is likely to be wide-ranging, as there are many factors that businesses looking to enter the market need to consider. While the often repeated idea that regulated sports betting will take off because Brazil has a huge football-obsessed population has some merit, businesses will not be able to rely on the beautiful game as the sole driver of success. Soccer may well be a useful gateway, but to really profit from the Brazilian market operators will also have to understand how much demand there will be for markets on volleyball, MMA and tennis, how to take advantage of the popularity of esports in the country, and how to adapt bingo and slots offers to appeal to the local market.
Beyond looking at which sports and games to offer, there is the question of what is the most effective way to deliver the product to players. A report by the management consultancy McKinsey showed that Brazil has a high level of mobile internet usage and is the world’s fourth largest market for app downloads, with the average smartphone user having 83 apps installed and using 12 apps a day. Could apps prove to be the preferred way to gamble?
And how do new entrants to the market reach and engage with Brazilian players? The advertising landscape in Brazil is very different to the ones in Europe and the US, so models that have proved effective in more established markets may not be relevant.
The agenda for SBC Digital Summit Latinoamérica includes ‘Grey To White’, a conference session about how to promote sportsbooks in the LatAm region that will address topics such as the relevance of affiliate marketing, and the usefulness of television ads and sports sponsorship. There is also a digital marketing themed virtual networking session, which will allow operators to connect with affiliates and consultants already active in the region.
Brazil is widely seen as the prime opportunity in the region and its potential is undoubtedly huge, particularly if the regulatory regime it ends up with is not overly restrictive. However, it is far from the only attractive LatAm opportunity for operators and suppliers.
The regulated online gambling market in Colombia still has room for significant growth, in terms of player numbers, the number of active operators and the range of products available. The most recent development there was the publication of regulations that will allow operators to offer live casino, presenting an opportunity for games developers that can make products that appeal to the Colombian market.
Across the border in Peru, legislators are considering a proposal to establish a regulatory framework for online sports betting and casinos. Lotteries, land-based casinos and retail bookmakers are already well established in the country, while the minority of punters who wish to gamble online can choose from hundreds of offshore operators. When regulation finally arrives, licence holders will benefit from having a wealth of educated players to market to, but will have to work out how to either collaborate with or compete effectively against the major land-based companies.
The issue of whether igaming operators and the strong LatAm land-based industry can work together for the benefit of both sectors is the subject of the ‘Omni-Channel Revolution’ conference session at SBC Digital Summit Latinoamérica. Speakers will include Lourdes Britto (General Manager, Corporación PJ), Eliseo Gracia Martínez (COO, Enjoy) and Lenin Castillo (Online COO, Logrand Entertainment).
One further issue any operator targeting the opportunities in Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Mexico and a number of provinces in Argentina will need to tackle is how to handle payments, particularly from online customers. Finding an effective payments solution is a notoriously difficult problem for businesses in the region, so there is huge potential for any supplier that develops a workable solution.
The subject will be the topic of both a conference session and virtual networking discussion during the Summit, presenting payments solutions providers with a valuable chance to connect with local market and international operators.
Find full details of SBC Digital Summit Latinoamérica, including information about how to secure a complimentary ticket, at the event’s official website: https://sbcevents.com/sbc-digital-summit-latinoamerica/