The best way to learn about emerging markets is to speak with the “first-movers” and this is why I’ve chosen BetMotion as my source for advice on Latin America.
BetMotion, a B2C gambling site held by Vision Media, has been offering services since 2008 with a strong focus on Latin America and Brazil. The site operates in English, Spanish and Portuguese, has doubled in size in the past twelve months and regards itself as one of the industry leaders in the LatAm iGaming space.
To understand exactly what LatAm has to offer iGaming operators and some of the challenges that come along with it, I spoke with Valentina Calabia, Betmotion’s Operations Manager.
“The LATAM market is an exciting region to be a part of. There is a real energy as more of the market is showing signs of regulation”, Calabia told CalvinAyre.com.
When it comes to the hottest countries to follow in the region, according to Calabia, regulated markets such as Colombia and Mexico are at the top of the list with several others following close behind.
“Colombia is the latest market to go through the regulation process and there are significant opportunities to be had for operators monitoring the area. Peru is another country which is expected to follow. Colombia and Paraguay will also likely be issuing licenses before too long”, she explained.
“Since Mexico regulated it has shown terrific growth and Big Bola’s positive results highlight the potential of LATAM. Interestingly, Brazil remains a bit of an enigma, although I would suggest the country will eventually be regulated – it’s just a matter of when”, said Calabia.
“There is major upside to LATAM for those already established and any operators looking to explore new horizons”, she added.
Regardless of which countries are “hot” or “cold” within LatAm at present, BetMotion’s focus encompasses the entire region, with a close eye on soon-to-regulate countries.
“Our focus is across the whole of LATAM. The ongoing mission is gaining licenses for each regulated market to build on the past successes”, Calabia shared.
“Mexico and Colombia are the two regions we’re committing time and resource to at the moment. Both have huge promise and we’re already seeing returns from our decision to be a first-mover. A recent report revealed more than 50% of the Colombian population gamble which represents an excellent opportunity for new business”, she added.
While its clear the opportunities LatAm presents to our industry are plentiful, there are still plenty of challenges that come along with attempting to enter the space.
“The challenge in all of LATAM is the lack of regulation which in turn can make payment processing and advertising a difficult task to negotiate. Another key factor to appreciate is that the different regions within LATAM each have individual characteristics”, explained Calabia.
“Cultural differences play a big factor and any operator looking to make a success in the region must take these into account before releasing gaming products. Local partnerships enable operators to develop a presence and help build trust with players”, she added.
Payment processing challenges in LatAm also make the region ripe for Bitcoin, a currency that is bound to eventually solve such money exchange woes.
“We have recently added Bitcoin for paying in and pay-outs, but it is still too early to see any results. Ongoing analysis will enable us to see what impact crypto-currencies have in the gaming space”, said Calabia.
BetMotion has been active in the LatAm market for almost 10 years now, but for the past twelve months specifically the operator has enjoyed explosive growth, a sign the rest of the industry should get involved now before its too late.
“We are a multi vertical operation with various brands in LATAM. Growth has been significant and has allowed us to set up multiple offices in various countries of LATAM to be closer to the local markets, players and local regulators”, Calabia shared.
With plenty of boots on the ground, Calabia is in a good position to make predictions on what we’ll be seeing in the LatAm market over the next one to five years when it comes to online gambling.
“Regulation will continue to be the leading factor and local land based operators will take the opportunity to partner up with online operators. Migrating an operation online is a serious undertaking and must be managed expertly”, she predicted.
“It’s important to make the online gaming experience the same as land-based so the change is seamless for players. Delivering the best user experience through an omni-channel system is the key to adding an online offering within LATAM”, she added.
For any operators out there who are not present in LatAm today but are keen to dip their toes in the water, Calabia’s best advice is to do your homework and find a solid local partner.
“LATAM has the potential to deliver huge returns, but it will only be for the operators who prepare properly before expanding into new markets. Working closely with local partners is integral and will help make the most of the opportunities”, she said.