Play'n GO: Developments in LatAm markets just as intriguing as US growth

Arturo Chaltelt at Play’n GO looks at the latest developments in Latin America and highlights the required steps to make a strong impact in the industry’s fastest-growing emerging market. This article was originally published in the May/June edition of Gambling Insider magazine.


Much has been discussed about the burgeoning US market, but developments south of the border are equally as intriguing. As the regulatory landscape in Latin America continues to change and more regions begin to embrace legislation, the territory is becoming a major target for a wide range of online operators and suppliers this year.  

And with good reason, given the sheer size and population of this territory. With a thriving land-based casino sector, there’s an opportunity to leverage this success into the online environment and bring even more exciting experiences for players across the continent.  

The question most senior execs will be pondering right now is how best to approach the LatAm opportunity. From our own experience in multiple regulated jurisdictions across the globe, it’s clear a “one-size-fits-all” model simply won’t suffice. With a population of over 626 million people and different frameworks in place across countries, there are plenty of factors to consider. 

Above all else, localisation will be key. For instance, taking the same approach that works in Europe and translating it for the LatAm market will only be a case of forcing square pegs into round holes. Some operators have tried this trick before in this part of the world, but quickly realised players favour an experience that’s made local to their tastes, which can be very different to mature markets.  

Need for quality mobile content 

Several countries have begun to embrace more open legislation, making it easier for operators to make an impact. Colombia is a glowing example of a nation that has adopted a robust framework and is experiencing major growth in online engagement. Although the online sector is still in its infancy, latest figures from the country’s regulator Coljuegos shows there is significant progress in this area, with online licensees contributing a 106% increase to COP65.97bn ($19.6m) in revenues for the year ending 31 October 2019. 

Mobile usage is expected to rise in Colombia and across the continent, too, and those with an offering that consists of proven games in this format will hit the ground running. It’s estimated that overall mobile penetration in Latin America will rise to around 73% of the total population, an increase from the 67% that currently exists (according to research from Statista). 

From our own studies into the region, we’re seeing an increase in general online services, including banking. The more familiar players become with accessing and consuming entertainment online, it’s sure to have an influence with how they approach their favourite casino games, as we have seen in more mature gaming markets.  

Further developments ahead 

Over the next couple of years, recent trends suggest online and mobile gaming will only increase in Latin America. Brazil, the region’s biggest nation in terms of population, is edging ever closer to introducing a framework to allow online betting and gaming. Leading tier-one operators have identified Brazil as a key area of focus, should legislation finally cross the line. While we await the next steps, it’s clear those that have experience in multiple regulated markets will be the frontrunners in capitalising on this exciting opportunity.  

Competition is fierce right now as operators jostle for a commanding position and grab the interest of players as markets become more stable. Retaining players will be no easy feat either, given the rising entrants to this attractive marketplace. For casinos, it’s why having an abundance of localised games featuring a wide range of themes and mechanics will be crucial. 

While the quality of games will prove to be a defining factor for those looking to differentiate their casino offering, the support that operators receive will be just as important. When it comes to Latin America, an online offering backed with the right content and expertise is sure to make a big splash in this huge emerging territory.  

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