Latin America is home to many opportunities and is one of the emerging markets that will dominate the iGaming conversation throughout 2021.
Countries that have regulated their gambling markets are experiencing steady revenue growth from online casinos and sportsbooks, and countries that are preparing favorable regulations are anticipating astonishing levels of growth in the near future.
The regulatory status of online gambling varies across the continent. Some countries, such as Ecuador and Brazil, currently ban all forms of gambling – with the understanding that online gambling is included – except state lotteries. In other countries, although it is not officially regulated, it is not actively banned.
The second-largest economy in Latin America, Argentina is the fourth largest country with a population of almost 45 million. Gambling is regulated from one province to another, and authorized operators may offer their services only to residents of the province in which they are licensed. In the provisions that have chosen to regulate gambling, operators are allowed to offer virtually all forms of gambling.
It is estimated that by 2021 the online gaming and betting sector will generate annual revenues of $ 2.4 billion. In an effort to recover from the 2020 crisis, the government has changed the federal tax on online gambling from 2% to 5%. This is separate from provincial and municipal taxes; Buenos Aires province taxes operators 25% of their gross gaming revenues. In the city of Buenos Aires, the fee is 10% for GGR.
Argentina is one of the countries that regulate gambling advertising. Only authorized operators can advertise in the country, and the advertisements are not allowed to present or target minors and not to be misleading.
The largest and most populous country in Latin America, Brazil is a sleeping giant that has woken up. In 2021, most forms of gambling are banned, although in 2016 a special commission was formed to develop regulations for the sports betting sector, and the legislation was finally adopted in 2018, but the implementation of the scheme was postponed.
The legislative process involved public consultations that brought almost 2,000 suggestions from 600 gaming companies. Eventually, sports betting will be privatized, lotteries will be run by state governments, and jockey clubs will continue to offer race betting. The new regulations are expected to enter into force by mid-2021.
With the entry into force of the new regulations, Brazil will have the largest sports betting market on land and online. With a population of over 200 million (of which about 63% have access to mobile technology) and a national passion for sports, Brazil is a dream come true for bookmakers who want to expand into South America.
To license a sportsbook, a fee of R $ 3 million ($ 560,000) has been set, with a monthly fee of $ 20,000 ($ 3700) per month for terrestrial retail store operators. Sportsbooks that work exclusively online will pay a monthly fee of R $ 30,000 ($ 5,600), and those that operate both retail and online will pay R $ 45,000 ($ 8,400).
In the last 5 years, the gambling industry has been following the situation in Brazil and it is estimated that the sports betting market will be worth over 1 billion dollars.
Chile’s Ministry of Finance recently announced the implementation of a new bill to regulate online gambling, which will be sent to the Chilean Congress in the first half of 2021.
Current legislation completely bans online gambling, even licensed land-based casinos are not allowed to offer their services online. The new bill will allow the implementation of both casino games and sports betting, in an effort to increase tax revenues and ensure the safety of players.
In 2020, regulators announced that new licenses will be awarded through a tender process and licensees will no longer be allowed to renew their license, meeting a number of requirements and paying a fee. These changes have been criticized by a group of foreign investors linked to the Chilean casino industry and prompted the Chilean Casino Association to suspend negotiations with regulators in September 2020.
If the bill to regulate online gambling is approved, Chile will become the latest Latino American to open to operators.
With a population of over 50 million, Colombia is the fourth-largest economy on the continent. With a mobile penetration rate of about 56% and a well-documented national passion for football, Columbia presents a massive opportunity for online gambling companies – especially online sportsbooks.
In 2016, Colombia was the first country in Latin America to regulate online gambling, and the gambling market has grown steadily since the licensing of betting companies began in 2017. With the 2016 regulation of the online sector, almost all forms gambling, both terrestrial and online, are now legal in the country – except for online horse betting; only Coljuegos, the country’s regulator, and private operations with government concessions can make online bets.
Thus, according to official statistics, the contributions of gambling to the national treasury increased to 19.6 million dollars in 2019, an increase of 106% over the previous year. The market’s net gaming revenue is estimated to reach $ 250 million in 2021.
At the moment, most of the betting activity in the country is concentrated around traditional retail betting shops, but online betting is recovering quickly. While sports betting – especially football betting – attracts the most attention from Colombian bettors, other games of chance such as slots and lotteries are becoming very popular.
The gambling tax is set at 15% of gross gaming revenue, and online gambling operators are also required to pay an annual fee of 811 times the minimum monthly salary in Colombia (approximately $ 175,500,175).
Costa Rica is an economically and politically stable country and has become an attractive base for a number of international industries – including iGaming. Although the laws of 1922 and 1974 banned gambling in which chance was a decisive factor in the outcome, unspoken government approval turned the country into a hub for the online gambling industry.
Thus, the authorities allow the establishment of gambling companies in the country, provided that they comply with the law of Costa Rica, which prohibits them from providing gambling services to the citizens of Costa Rica. However, they may accept players from other jurisdictions.
The government’s tolerance of gambling businesses and the lack of a tax on online gambling revenues have made the country extremely attractive to online casino operators. Currently, about 450 gambling companies operate in Costa Rica.
Regulators do not issue an official gambling license because it does not exist. In order to operate, online casino operators require a “data processing” license and are frequently classified as call centers. In addition, Costa Rican banks do not process transactions for online gambling operators located within the country’s borders.
The Dominican Republic
In the second half of the twentieth century, in order to diversify the country’s economy, the Government of the Dominican Republic developed the casino industry in parallel with the tourism industry. Thus, in the 1960s and 70s, gambling and tax cuts were legalized for private companies that invested in tourism, including casinos.
The Dominican Republic regulates all forms of gambling, with the exception of fantastic and virtual sports betting, which are neither specifically regulated nor prohibited. The cost of an online gambling license is about $ 230,000, and operators are required to pay additional administrative fees of $ 23,000.
The Dominican Republic applies a turnover tax of 10%. Operators must also offer the National Directorate of Casinos and Gambling a fee of RD $ 1 for each RD $ 100 they process, as well as invest an additional RD $ 2 for each RD $ 100 processed for the provision of technological equipment to the direction. Operators must also withhold 25% of players’ winnings and direct the proceeds to the national treasury.
In 2012, all land-based casinos and bingo halls were forced to close in Ecuador. Online gambling is also prohibited.
In 2019, a group called the Association of Former Casino Workers in Ecuador began calling for a change in the ban. The group’s leader claimed that Ecuadorian citizens simply traveled to neighboring Peru and Colombia to bet, bringing an estimated $ 45 million in revenue, and casinos should be reopened. However, their request has not been considered and there is still no legislation governing the gambling sector.
In Guyana, the law prohibits gambling, but there are a number of exceptions, such as lotteries and billiards betting. In 2007, in order to stimulate the tourism sector, the Government legalized casino games. So far, only two casinos have opened and only guests of the adjacent hotel are allowed to play.
There are no laws that explicitly prohibit online gambling in Guyana. The gambling prevention law in the country specifically prohibits gambling in common gambling houses, a requirement that remote gambling does not meet. However, in 2013, the government revoked gambling licenses held by remote gambling companies.
Mexico, with more than 120 million inhabitants and an estimated mobile penetration rate of about 60%, is considered the second-largest economy in Latin America. Recently, Mexico has become a breeding ground for new and expanding casino and sportsbook operators.
Magic regulates all forms of gambling, with the exception of floor card rooms (poker games are only allowed in casinos) and fantasy sports (which are allowed but not expressly regulated). Like the rest of Latin America, all gambling is popular across the country, with bettors showing an extra level of enthusiasm when it comes to football betting.
The main legislation governing gambling in Mexico is the Federal Games and Lots Act of 1947. After much debate, several supplementary regulations were adopted in 2004. While most forms of gambling are technically banned, various interpretations of the country’s regulatory framework have created room for thriving gaming industry.
Online casino and bookmaker operators do not require an additional license, but only authorization and a partnership with a terrestrial licensee. However, the country could benefit if the regulator, the Directorate-General for Games, eased the requirements and issued more licenses.
Revenues from the online gambling and betting sector are estimated at $ 450 million, of which only $ 50 million comes from licensed operators.
In Nicaragua, all forms of gambling are legally regulated, except for fantasy sports and betting on virtual goods.
The regulatory authority is divided between the Control Board of casinos and gaming venues and the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit. Although land and online gambling were legalized in 2001, the industry remains largely underdeveloped.
Panama regulates almost all forms of gambling. Online gambling is subject to local licensing, and operators can offer sports betting, racing bets, and a full range of casino games. However, some products are banned; lottery games, horse racing betting, amateur events, political elections, and other events, at the discretion of the regulator.
A license costs about $ 49,900. Applicants must have a legal representative in Panama, comply with all rules and regulations, be subject to substantive control, and be established in the country. Online gambling is charged 10% of gross gaming revenue. Panama gambling is regulated by the country’s Gaming Control Board.
The regulatory changes announced in September 2020 have made Panama one of the few Latin American countries with a fully licensed online gambling market. Previously, licensees were prohibited from offering their services to Panamanian citizens, but now operators will be allowed up to five “.pa” domains. Regulators anticipate licensing between 10 and 15 operators.
Paraguay regulates almost all forms of gambling. The only licensed sports betting operator carries fees of about $ 4 million annually to the state budget.
In 2016, the government drafted a law that updates some of the country’s gambling legislation, especially with regard to online gambling. Tax reforms in 2021 are expected to include new gambling taxes.
Peruvian gambling law regulates casinos and slots, but not lotteries, races or sports betting. Online gambling is unregulated, which means that although the authorities do not issue licenses, they do not prohibit operators from offering online casino games or sports betting. The government has also announced its intention to regulate the online gambling sector.
The only organizations that are officially allowed to offer online gambling services are Intralot Peru and Corporacion Galena, which operate lottery games for social institutions and the Monterrico racecourse.
The technical and player identification standards are not provided for in the current regulations. There is no established tax system but officially recognized online betting services pay a 20% fee on GGR. The penetration rate of mobile phones in Peru lags behind many other Latin American countries, with an estimated 42% of Peruvians owning smartphones.
While the land-based casino and sports betting sectors are well established, the online sector is growing and providing a tempting opportunity for iGaming operators.
Uruguay does not have a coherent legal system in terms of gambling legislation, but most forms of gambling are legal. Instead, operators are regulated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the terms of individual concession contracts.
The government strictly controls the gambling sector, but in the last decade and a half, it has allowed more room for private operators to get involved. Most casinos operate under a government monopoly, but some have private investors involved.
A 2018 law grants the sole authority to operate online gambling businesses to the Direccion Nacional de Loterias y Quinielas (National Lotteries and Pools Directorate). Apart from lotteries and sports betting offered by DNLQ, online gambling is prohibited. However, there is an exception; Online gambling operators can establish a legal presence in the Montevideo free trade area, as long as they do not offer their services to the citizens of Uruguay.
Casinos and bingo halls were banned in Venezuela in 2011. In 2019, the government approved a cryptocurrency casino in an effort to increase the value of Petro’s cryptocurrency in the country.
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