The potential for Brazil to become one of the world’s biggest betting markets is palpable, but regulatory and political uncertainty have often cast doubt on the country’s future in iGaming. Jhuana Lamas, Business Development Brazil for Sportingtech, discusses the current state of the Brazilian market, as well as the various growth opportunities in the country.

Latin America has long been a land of opportunity for the global iGaming industry – the heady potential of LatAm markets has never been far from the minds of those determined to grow their iGaming and sports betting offerings.

With LatAm jurisdictions regulating at pace and the World Cup just around the corner, a healthy level of growth has been the reward for those that have made the move to regulation, and justifiably so; the tournament is the most prominent sporting event on this year’s calendar, offering an abundance of opportunities for sportsbook operators. Unsurprisingly, the event is this year’s focal point in the region: football drives the majority of sportsbook turnover across LatAm, representing a common ground for each market.

In this regard, Brazil has been somewhat of a sleeping giant – awaiting regulation for many months now, the potential for the country to become one of the biggest iGaming markets in the world is unmistakable, but the nation is in danger of letting a golden opportunity pass it by.

Many iGaming stakeholders have kept an eye on the country, waiting for that last piece of legislation to be passed so that licensees can launch their operations. With good reason: Brazil alone has a population of over 200 million, while, in South America overall, smartphone penetration is expected to reach 73% by 2025, according to GSMA, with internet penetration for LatAm and the Caribbean reaching 74% by 2020, World Bank estimates show.

The opportunity for growth in Brazil is immense, but the regulatory race is on for the country. In 2018, fixed-odds betting was essentially recognised as a legitimate activity by its government. Subsequently, its Ministry of Economy was given four years to establish a licensing or concession system that would nurture a competitive sports betting culture for both online and retail. Home to possibly the most enthusiastic football fans in the world, the potential gains of succeeding in this endeavour cannot be understated; the industry remains hopeful that legislation will pass before the World Cup, set to start on November 20, but this is seeming increasingly unlikely.

This represents a fine balancing act, however – operators must remain vigilant, so as not to lose the first-mover advantage. Trial and error simply will not work for gaming companies, especially in such a competitive field – suppliers and operators alike need to be ready to hit the ground running, primed to launch products in the market with maximum efficiency to give themselves the best chance for success. These rewards not only include acquiring and retaining sports betting enthusiasts, but also those that enjoy casino and will be looking for alternative forms of entertainment during the event’s off-peak matches.

Utilising the expertise of a partner knowledgeable in the field of localisation, such as Sportingtech, will prove vital here – the ability to quickly adapt to change is key. There are many variables; Brazil’s venture into the world of regulated sports betting could grind to a halt given recent political developments – the surprise winner of the recent presidential race, Lula, is much more pragmatic in his views on online gambling compared to his opponent, Bolsonaro, meaning the fate of Brazil’s betting licensing regime hangs in the balance. If and when regulation occurs, the ability to act quickly will be vital in capturing market share.

Providers with a detailed knowledge of the landscape will be essential going forward, as operators look to navigate it and take advantage of its many rich opportunities. Having identified that the citizens of Brazil are incredibly in sync with media and have hypersocial tendencies, Sportingtech has developed a unique share-a-bet functionality to tap into these attributes, which lend themselves well to influencer marketing in the country. This feature allows players and influencers to share their operator branded betslip to multiple social media channels, including WhatsApp.

Recipients of the share-a-bet can follow the QR code provided, which then takes them directly to the operator’s website and simultaneously rewards them with a first-time deposit bonus. This is mutually beneficial, as the player sharing the bet is also rewarded with a refer-a-friend bonus. The whole process results in the maximisation of acquisition and retention which, ultimately, is the holy grail for any operator.

Of course, Brazilian opportunities abound beyond football and the World Cup. For example, mixed martial arts, basketball and NBA all have ardent followings as well. With this in mind, speedy acquisition should be prioritised, making a streamlined offering that ensures the onboarding process is made much more painless for those that are not used to online sports betting. One of the Sportingtech initiatives developed to do just that is the Popular Bets and Popular Events widget. This collates and displays the 10 most popular bets and events across an operator’s platform, refreshing every five minutes. Such a product has been designed to quickly and easily introduce bettors to the excitement of online sports betting, and would be sure to do so should Brazil’s regulatory breakthrough come to pass.

Taking market preferences into account is essential when it comes to preparing an offering for a new market, allowing for rapid, efficient expansion. The Sportingtech modular offering is backed by local teams providing excellent customer support on the ground, providing a tailored product for a market that can be relied upon to deliver. Uncertainty still surrounds Brazil, but preparedness to act at the opportune moment will be key to success there in the coming weeks.

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