Gambling is a popular pastime among Latin Americans. From playing in high-stakes casinos of Mexico to the indigenous games of Peru, Latin Americans have always had something in common with the thrills of gambling. And guess what? More Latin Americans are participating in various forms of gambling thanks to the rising popularity of online gambling.
But despite the apparent successes, there are still a few concerns that may prevent the market from reaching its peak. This begs the question; what does the future hold for the Latin American gambling scene? This article looks at the history of gambling in Latin America, the current landscape, and the most likely predictions.
Gambling has been a part of Latin American culture for centuries. It's an open secret that the Aztecs (Native American people in northern Mexico) were gamblers. These indigenous people from America played for high stakes in the game of Patolli. This game is still prevalent in Mexico today.
But it was the Spaniards who made gambling even more popular in Latin America. In the early 16th century, the Spanish explorers brought the games of Hazard and Faro to the region. These games instantly became popular throughout the Americas. Then in the 1800s, poker was introduced and is still a mainstay at almost all casinos in the Americas.
Currently, most people in Latin American countries can easily play casino games at the best online casino sites operating in the region. These websites are home for online casino games like:
Most casino websites also offer competitive sports betting odds, with Latin Americans being passionate about soccer.
The current gambling landscape in Latin America is impressive, although the region still lags behind compared to Europe and North America. In recent years, the LatAm gaming industry has seen a popularity surge due to the introduction of new regulatory frameworks and increased digital technology penetration.
Below are some LatAm countries where gambling is regulated:
Argentina has up to three federated states or provinces, each regulating gambling within its borders. As it stands, gambling is legal in Buenos Aires, the country's capital, with a population of more than 15 million. This city alone makes Argentina one of South America's most attractive gambling destinations for operators. Provinces like Cordoba and Mendoza also have adequate gambling regulatory frameworks.
After the millennium, voices calling for a legal online gambling environment in Mexico became even louder. With the pressure mounting, the country legalized gaming in 2004, aiming to generate a gross revenue of more than $300 million. But remember that some forms of gambling are still illegal, although the country's legal framework provides a loophole for gambling to thrive.
Gambling has been legal in Peru since 2008. However, the Peruvian Congress overhauled the country's gambling laws in 2002 to allow online gambling and sports betting. This makes Peru an irresistible market for operators, with Pragmatic Play and Evolution recently increasing their operations. The new laws will require online casino and sports betting operators to pay the government 12% of their net income.
Regulated by Coljuegos, Colombia is one of the oldest gambling territories in the world. The Congress of the Republic legalized gambling in 2001, making the country a benchmark in LatAm. Last year, Coljuegos and the Colombian National Police conducted raids and seizures to make the market cleaner and safer. This move attracted top gaming companies, with Betsson Group launching its LatAm strategic center in Colombia.
Gambling in Chile has been legal for a while. However, online gambling has been operating in a grey area until 2022, when the government published the country's first online gaming bill. The bill states that all gaming licenses will only be legal for five years. It also says that an operator wishing to offer online betting services will get a separate non-renewable permit. And another thing, the government will collect a 20% tax.
Brazil has one of the largest populations of any nation, with over 214 million people as of 2021. But the bad news for players and operators is that gambling is largely illegal in the country. That's after the government banned all betting activities in 1941, leaving only horse racing and lotteries. And even these two betting activities are under state monopoly. Thankfully, loopholes in the law allow offshore operators to accept Brazilian gamers.
The Republic of Paraguay sits at the heart of South America. In this Spanish-speaking country, gambling has been legal since 1947. However, gambling officially became legal in Paraguay in 1997 after Law No. 1016 was enacted. Sadly, the government considers online gambling offshore banking, meaning online gambling is illegal in Paraguay. In addition, betting on blood sports like bullfighting and cockfighting is unlawful.
So, will the Latin American gambling market continue to grow as experienced in other regions? It depends on several factors, including:
According to Statista, there are at least 520 million mobile phone users in the LatAm region. The research adds that the number might rise to over 600 million by 2027. If the numbers are accurate, Latin America is an irresistible area for online casino and sportsbook operators. Most gambling sites are HTML5-optimized, meaning gamers can access the services directly via their phones. This, coupled with convenient online payments via e-wallets like PayPal, Neteller, and Skrill, will only make the market bigger.
It's hard to hear that a country has placed a blanket ban on gambling activities these days. That's because governments seek increased revenues without taking anything from their citizens. For example, a gambling operator in Chile has to pay the government 20% of their annual income. Expect more countries, especially Brazil, to loosen up soon.
Despite the visible growth of the industry, there are still some challenges.
The gambling industry in Latin America will likely continue to grow. The current trends indicate that there will be more legal gambling territories and an increased number of gamblers. But players must not be carried away by these successes. Playing on a reputable and legal website is advisable, even when using an offshore casino. Money management is also crucial.