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Online Gambling Markets in Latin America Not to Overlook

There's no doubt that 2021 will see a lot of exciting developments in the iGaming industry, but none more so than the prospects of flourishing emerging markets. Online gambling in Latin America will be key on the agenda here as the area possesses extraordinary potential. Some even believe this area could become one of the largest gambling markets in the world. Many countries have already made the decision to regulate and control online sports betting and casinos. And while many of these countries are seeing steady growth, it is those with the more liberal and favorable regulations that provide the most exciting prospect for enormous growth in the near future.

The Sleeping Giant

Many countries are at odds with how they should handle iGaming in Latin America. Countries like Ecuador and Brazil have taken the stance of prohibiting it all together – except in the form of state lotteries. That said, Brazil is one of several countries that are looking to reform their gambling laws, along with the likes of Mexico and Bolivia. Brazil and Mexico both have large reforms currently under consideration, so we could soon see huge developments. Brazil has been widely deemed the 'sleeping giant' of Latin America. However, efforts shouldn't be entirely focused there, as there are several fantastic opportunities for the iGaming industry to fulfill.

In many other Latin American (or LATAM for short) countries, the laws are nowhere near as strict. In fact, there's no LATAM gambling affiliation that regulates iGaming in the region. The consensus seems to be that, while it may not be officially regulated, it is also not actively discouraged. Governments in the likes of Bolivia and Nicaragua have actively encompassed online gambling in regulations, while Argentina has left everything to the provincial governments. So, let's look at some of the key online gambling markets across the region.

Argentina

Argentina is one of the few Latin American countries with a thriving online gambling industry and betting sector. The gambling industry in Argentina is estimated to bring in $2.4 billion in revenue, and because of the current economic conditions, the government has announced that the online betting tax would increase from 2% to 5%. The country is strict on regulations and ensures that advertising is only targeted toward adults. The LATAM nation is certainly doing things right as its betting industry is soaring.

Brazil

A law was changed in 2018 to legalize some aspects of sports betting. However, this has currently been delayed. These changes are expected to be pushed through by the summer of 2021, and gambling in South America's biggest economy is set to flourish. As it's among the giants of South America, Brazil is a dream for prospective sportsbook operators with a population of 200 million people that are football and sports-mad. Plus, 63% of them have access to a mobile phone. The sports betting market in Brazil is anticipated to be worth north of $1 billion. This year, we should see that come to life.

Chile

Chile expects to announce a bill that will see both online casino and sports betting regulated from the first half of this year onward. This is expected to be huge news for Latin American gambling as Chile opens its doors to operators, and a whole new market is set to be contested. The most recent update regarding the bill happened in August of 2022 when the Ministry of Finance sent it under revision due to a "visibly flawed tax framework".

Colombia

Colombia boasts a population of more than 50 million people. Some 56% of people there own a mobile phone. The country is also big on football, which makes Colombia the perfect place opportunity for online sportsbook sites looking to expand into new markets. The government in Colombia legalized gambling in 2016, and it has seen steady expansion since then. However, 2019 saw a rise in taxes from gambling of 106% to the previous year – this could give an indication of the boom we expect to see in the country. Luckily, there are many Colombian casino sites you can try out today.

The Most Developed Gambling Markets in Latin America

Costa Rica

Costa Rican gambling laws prevent gaming companies from offering services to Costa Rican citizens. However, that hasn't stopped almost 450 companies from basing themselves there. They use it as a base to target players from other jurisdictions, and if the Costa Rican government ever changes its legislation, they are perfectly placed to take advantage of a huge new market.

The Dominican Republic

Thanks to the tourism industry in the Dominican Republic, the country's casino industry has constantly been developing. More specifically, its growth became notable in the second half of the 20th century, as the legalization of gambling took place in the 60s and 70s. The Dominican Republic regulates all forms of gambling except for fantasy and virtual sports betting. While those two forms of betting aren't regulated, they're not specifically prohibited either.

One fun fact is that all private companies, including casinos, get tax breaks as long as they invest in the tourism industry. That said, the country does enforce a 10% turnover tax. Additionally, casinos must pay RD$1 for each RD$100 they process to the National Directorate of Casinos and Games of Chance. There's also a tariff of RD$2 for each RD$100 operators process for providing IT equipment to the directorate. Lastly, casinos must direct 25% of players' winnings to the national treasury.

Ecuador

Betting has been illegal in Ecuador since 2012. However, a recent push from the Association of Former Casino Workers has seen the conversation brought back into the spotlight. They are claiming that Ecuadorians are traveling into neighboring Peru to place their bets and that this is taking up to $45 million out of the economy. Of course, such eye-watering figures are being taken seriously by the powers that be. If there are favorable changes to the gambling laws in Ecuador on the cards, this nation could become a key player in the Latin American gambling industry.

Guyana

Gambling is illegal in Guyana, thanks to Guyana's Gambling Prevention Act. That said, there are several exceptions to this legislation, like pool betting and lotteries. Similar to TDR, the country legalized casino gaming in 2007 in an attempt to enforce the tourism industry. However, Guyana boasts only two casinos, which are available exclusively to guests of the attached hotel.

Moreover, the country doesn't have any specific laws that prohibit online gambling. The legislation we mentioned above is only in regard to common gambling houses. Yet, in 2013 Guyana's government revoked any gambling licenses of remote gambling companies.

Mexico

With a population of 120 million people and many sports lovers, there is always going to be a huge potential market for both online sportsbetting and gambling in Mexico. Technology across the country is fairly strong, with most residents having access to the internet and mobile phones. Therefore, Mexico provides the perfect platform for expanding casinos and betting companies.

However, if you're wondering, "is gambling legal in Mexico?" we'll have to disappoint you. The truth of the matter is that betting is largely prohibited in the LATAM country. However, there are many loopholes and interpretations of these rules, which means there are thriving gaming and sports sectors with locals having a particular affiliation with football betting. The country has phenomenal potential for the betting industry. There are estimates that it could be worth up to $450 million – currently, only $50 million of that is coming from fully authorized and legal operators. A shakeup in the Mexican gambling laws could see the market thrive.

Nicaragua

Nicaragua's gambling market remains predominantly underdeveloped. Back in 2001, both land-based and online casinos were legalized and regulated by the Ministry of Finance, which then started the Casino Control Council. Most betting is available in Nicaragua, and it could be one of the countries that will benefit and profit from a reliable framework being set in place.

Panama

Almost all forms of gambling are regulated in Panama. Licenses cost just shy of $50,000 and have a strict set of rules and regulations with which betting companies must comply. Tax is 10% of Gross Gaming Revenue and brings the governing bodies plenty of funds. A full range of casino games is available, as well as most sports betting and motorcar betting. There are limitations, though, as lotteries are not allowed, and neither are amateur sports, political elections, or horse racing wagers.

Paraguay

Paraguay's take on gambling is fairly relaxed, and almost all forms of betting are legal in the country. However, only one company is licensed to provide bets, and this generates roughly $4 million a year in taxes for the government.

Peru

When it comes to gambling in Peru, the country regulates casinos and slot machines. The Peruvian Congress also approved a law in July of 2022 that will create a regulatory framework around online gambling and sports betting.

Now, Peru has two organizations that are formally permitted to offer online gambling services. These are Corporacion Galena and Intralot, which operate the Monterrico racetrack and lottery games for social institutions.

As for taxation, there's no set scheme. Yet, formally recognized online betting services are required to pay a 20% tax on GGR. Moreover, only 42% of Peru's citizens have smartphones, which isn't good news for the country's mobile gambling market.

Uruguay

In Uruguay, most forms of gambling are legalized. That said, the country doesn't have a cohesive legal framework when it comes to gambling. Instead, Uruguay uses the terms of individual concession contracts to regulate casinos on a case-by-case basis.

While the gambling sector is pretty tightly controlled by the government, more private casino operators have been introduced in the past decade. Most casinos in Uruguay are operated under a government monopoly, but there are some betting institutions that have private investors.

Thanks to a law instated in 2018, the National Directorate of Lotteries and Pools is the sole regulator of online gambling enterprises. All forms of online gambling outside of the NDLP are prohibited at the time of this writing. However, a bill is currently being debated in regard to legalizing online gambling. In fact, the country's senate voted in favor of the bill in August 2022. Yet, there is an exception worth mentioning. Online gambling platforms can operate legally in the Montevideo Free Trade Zone as long as they don't offer any services to Uruguay citizens.

Venezuela

Unfortunately, all casinos and bingo halls were banned in Venezuela back in 2011. The only change occurred in 2019 when the government approved a cryptocurrency casino. This was done in an attempt to increase the value of Venezuela's Petro cryptocurrency.

Online Gambling Markets in Latin America – Final Thoughts

With legislative changes due all over the continent in 2021, online gambling in Latin America is set to thrive this year. You can bet that there will be many Latin America sports betting platforms and online casinos ready to pounce and take a piece of the action when the virtual doors open up. So, watch this space and be sure to return to GoodLuckMate to find the best online LATAM casinos.

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Steven Ford
Steven FordUpdated: 20 Nov 2022
Steve started his iGaming career back in 2007 and he has not looked back since. Various job roles for both global and startup casino brands have given him a deep and thorough under...

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