the changing landscape in LatAm for online poker
After launching a series of new products to enhance its offering in Latin America, the online poker software provider EvenBet game has seen notable growth in the region over the past year.
Roman Bogodouhov, head of account management at EvenBet Gaming, joined the company late last year. We spoke with him about how the company plans to continue growing as the various markets in the region expand.
CasinoBeats: Which Latin American countries do you think have the most immediate potential right now and why?
RB: There are several countries where it is lucrative to start a casino or sports betting site right now. Colombia is the most attractive with minimal legislative barriers and an established and transparent licensing process. Argentina comes in second because it’s a huge market with an igaming-hungry population, but it’s much more complicated, with 24 jurisdictions in the country, all with different regulatory statuses. On top of that, the legislation in most of these jurisdictions makes it nearly impossible to start a brand new casino.
However, the online market in Mexico is very attractive, but it is only available to existing terrestrial operators.
CasinoBeats: How has the status of online poker changed in Latin America in recent years?
RB: In Latin American countries that allow the operation of local or offshore poker offerings, online poker has quickly gone from being associated with the black market and illegal activities to an indispensable part of everyday entertainment. For example, in Colombia and Chile, we see that interest in our product continues to grow, especially from sports betting operators due to cross-audience.
For this, we have optimized our Side-Bet product, which allows players to bet on sports without having to leave the poker room. For projects that are starting from scratch, we have pre-integrated sportsbooks from two partner providers with a huge choice of sports and events, so that one operator can give avid players access to both offerings simultaneously.
CasinoBeats: Conversely, which countries do you consider to be slow burners that further down the line might be the most promising markets?
RB: Brazil is the biggest potential market. We are seeing a slow move towards online gambling regulation as the 2022 World Cup approaches. That being said, the proposed changes primarily relate to sports betting and lotteries. However, as the government sees the benefits of a steady influx of taxes from the gambling industry – especially given the costly events of the last couple of years – regulation will naturally extend to online casinos and poker rooms as well. . This is especially likely given poker’s affinity with sports betting.
On top of that, these games are already part of everyday life in the form of illegal operators and the country stands to benefit exponentially from common sense regulation.
CasinoBeats: With the complexities of LatAm’s regulatory status – with some countries like Brazil currently banning gambling, others unregulated but not actively banning it, and others like Argentina regulated on a province-by-province basis, how can you target the best opportunities for the business?
RB: There are several questions we ask ourselves before making a country-specific offer. First, and most important, is online poker currently regulated in the country, like in Colombia? If not, is it allowed to play in offshore poker rooms, as is the case in Chile?
Next, we need to consider whether there is an offline and online poker culture in the region that would allow an operator to build a lasting user database. In the case of Argentina, there is a huge affection for the game, which makes it a no-brainer to implement the game there.
After questioning these factors, we can advise a trader on whether to proceed with an offer. We are also beginning to examine how EvenBet Gaming can help our customers better understand legislative barriers and what forms of partnerships hold the most promise.
CasinoBeats: A region with such potential will inherently bring competition. What do you think sets your business apart from your competitors?
RB: EvenBet game was one of the first poker providers to start working in Latin America and South America. Over the past four years, we have optimized our offers according to the needs of local operators and players, completely localized the software and management tools we offer to specific customers and created a Spanish-speaking sales support team. In addition to that, we have regularly participated in many gaming industry events in Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Mexico and other countries.
Finally, we offer the same world-class poker platform that we make available in more mature markets, such as Europe and the United States, with all the necessary certifications. It is safe, secure and contains all the necessary anti-fraud and compliance tools. We pay particular attention to the development and delivery of KYC and anti-fraud solutions to operators based in Latin America, as trust and security are among the biggest issues in the region. There is still a lot to do, but we are ready to launch any type of project that our partners may need.
CasinoBeats: If you could change some elements of how Latin American countries currently operate in terms of gambling and regulation, what would they be and why?
RB: I would accelerate the process of transitioning from black and gray online markets to regulated markets. This would benefit both the players, who would be protected from various scams and fraudulent operations, and each of the economies of these countries would receive more taxes. Keeping online gambling in the shadows has serious consequences for the reputation of the industry in general. This only serves to complicate the operations of companies that are working legally.
CasinoBeats: What new products should operators in the region expect?
RB: No more mobile-first and mobile-only multi-platform games. These seem to be the most interesting for many audiences in LatAm. The combinations can be very different. For example, EvenBet offers a mobile poker platform with the ability to add thousands of casino and table games as well as a live offer and classic sports betting.