The State of LatAm Sports Betting: How Regulatory Changes are Affecting the Industry

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Sports betting is on the rise in the Latin American (LatAm) market. The industry has enjoyed an increase in popularity all over the globe in recent years, but the legal framework in many Central and South American countries has kept widespread growth largely at bay. Until now. 

The iGaming sector is experiencing unprecedented growth in LatAm, with a staggering annual increase of 38%. This rapid expansion has caught the attention of global betting companies, drawn by the region's immense potential. Projections indicate a remarkable surge from $21 billion in 2023 to an impressive $54 billion by 2026, reflecting the dynamic nature of the market. 

Argentina, a key player in this burgeoning industry, demonstrates the trend with sports betting dominating the market, notably evident in the frequent sponsorship of soccer league teams by betting firms, such as Codere’s partnership with River Plate. Such developments underscore the transformative impact of iGaming across Latin America, solidifying its position as a thriving hub within the global betting landscape.

The increase in popularity represents a lucrative opportunity for sports betting operators. The gross gaming revenue (GGR) of the sports betting market in LatAm is poised for substantial growth between 2020 and 2025. In 2020, the GGR generated from bets in the region totaled approximately 1.3 billion U.S. dollars. However, projections indicate a notable surge, with the GGR forecasted to reach 3.4 billion U.S. dollars by 2025. This significant increase reflects the burgeoning popularity and expansion of the sports betting industry throughout LatAm, highlighting the region's evolving role as a key player in the global betting landscape.

What are the recent regulatory changes across LatAm?

Many LatAm countries are loosening regulations for sports betting operators, demonstrating a huge opportunity for bookmakers assessing new markets. 

Sports betting regulatory frameworks in Argentina

Online betting is significant in Argentina, generating an estimated $2.4 billion in annual revenue. Gambling advertising is heavily regulated across the country, promotions must not target or feature minors and cannot be misleading or dishonest. Only authorised operators are allowed to advertise their services in the country.

In spite of this, gambling is widely accepted in Argentine society. Land-based gambling has long been regulated with various casinos, horse racing tracks, betting shops, amusement arcades, and lottery ticket sale venues authorised to operate depending on the jurisdiction.

Sports betting regulatory frameworks in Brazil

At the end of 2023, Brazil’s chamber of deputies voted to approve online gambling. The market is anticipating publication of gaming regulations by the Ministry of Finance during 2024. Experts anticipate that Brazil could become a major player in the global sports betting industry very quickly.

Sports betting regulatory frameworks in Colombia

When it comes to online betting, Colombia is one of LatAm’s most progressive countries. The government spotted an opportunity to work with Colombia sports betting sites and generate millions in tax revenue. This led to online gambling being legalised in the country in 2016.

Sports betting regulatory frameworks in Peru

Peru has recently entered the arena of regulating online gaming markets across Latin America by enacting new regulations and fostering the growth of its iGaming sector. According to a survey conducted on iGaming in Latin America, 89% of operators expressed intentions to expand into Peru within the next five years, signalling the country's appeal as a promising market. 

How big is sports betting participation in LatAm communities?

Sports betting participation within LatAm communities, particularly in Brazil, demonstrates a vibrant and evolving landscape. According to the TGM Sports Betting Survey conducted in October 2022, a substantial 46.14% of the Brazilian population engaged in sports betting activities within the previous 12 months. Notably, the 25-34 age group emerged as the most active segment, indicating a strong affinity for betting among young adults. 

Gender differences also surfaced, with 45% of men betting more frequently compared to the previous year, while an intriguing 20% of women participated in betting for the first time, surpassing the corresponding percentage for men. Football retains its dominance as the most favoured sport for betting, capturing the interest of 81% of the audience, followed by basketball at 33%. Additionally, Esports emerged as a surprising contender, securing a significant audience share of 29%, underscoring the diverse preferences within Brazil's sports betting landscape.

What is sports betting market penetration like across LatAm?

The below heat map shows where the majority of sports betting operators are headquartered across the world. We already see a large amount in Brazil, and many big name European and North American brands are entering the market as well.

Global Sports Betting Business Distribution

What are the trends in sports betting participation across LatAm?

Current betting habits across Latin America reveal a diverse landscape shaped by cultural preferences and technological advancements. A January 2022 report by Statista sheds light on the share of bettors in selected Latin American countries, with Colombia reporting the highest figure at 68 percent of respondents having placed a bet over the previous six months, while around 40 percent of interviewees in Chile stated the same. 

The popularity of iGaming in the region has surged, buoyed by the appeal of sports leagues like Liga MX and the Copa Libertadores, alongside the convenience offered by mobile betting apps. This trend is particularly pronounced in countries like Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Peru, where significant numbers of active gamblers are already engaged. With the increasing accessibility of mobile betting apps and online sportsbooks, the number of participants in the region's betting market is expected to continue rising steadily.

The widespread adoption of smartphones and mobile Internet, reaching an average of 75% in urban areas with 4G LTE networks, has also driven an uptake in sports betting behaviours. Among the favoured social platforms are TikTok, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Additionally, an essential development is the commencement of 5G network deployment in nations like Chile and Brazil, anticipated to expand throughout the region until 2026. These new networks promise enhanced internet speeds and improved services, particularly benefiting streaming, gaming/betting, and e-commerce applications, which are projected as the three sectors poised for significant growth in the foreseeable future.

What is sports viewership like in LatAm?

Sports viewership in Latin America paints a picture of widespread engagement and diversity. With an impressive 90% of the population tuning in to watch at least one sport, LatAm stands out as a region deeply invested in athletic competitions. 

The rise of eSports further exemplifies the growing interest in non-traditional sporting events. That surged to 70 million by 2022. The popularity of eSports was evident during the 2020 opening season of the League of Legends Liga Latinoamérica (LLA), where a staggering eight million unique viewers tuned in to follow the event, showcasing the region's evolving sports landscape.

What is disposable income like in LatAm?

The trajectory of disposable income in LatAm presents a promising outlook for economic growth and consumer spending. Projections indicate a significant increase of nearly 60% in real terms between 2021 and 2040, propelled by various factors such as narrowing regional disparities, technological advancements, and a shift towards higher value-added sectors. 

Despite being the most unequal region globally in terms of incomes, LatAm is witnessing a notable expansion of its middle class, with 10 out of 17 countries expected to experience rapid growth in this demographic over the same period. This growth can be attributed to improved access to education, healthcare, and social benefits, alongside an increasing availability of higher value-added labour market opportunities. For sports betting operators, this rise in disposable income signifies a substantial opportunity, as a larger portion of the population gains the financial means to engage in leisure activities like betting on sports events.

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