For a continent full of sports and casino fans who love to gamble, it's surprising that some Latin American countries have only begun legalizing online betting in recent years. Colombia and Mexico kicked things off, but Argentina has followed suit, along with Peru fast behind.
But the most significant "player" in the market, Brazil, is still lagging when it comes to allowing online casinos and sports betting. With that being said, discussions at a Government level continue, and people hope it might be legalized within years.
Why regulating online betting is important
By its very nature, the online gambling industry needs to be open and fair in all its dealings with players. Customers demand to know that the games are honest and that their money is safe while it is deposited on a site.
If a casino does not have a relevant Government license, then there is no protection for the players if things go wrong. The benefit of regulation is that it forces all online casinos and sports betting sites to adhere to strict rules that protect players. Key among these is the integrity of the games on offer, the protection of all players' personal data, and player funds' ring-fencing.
Even though some territories are against the idea of online gambling, such as some states within the United States, they have seen the benefit of regulation. Operators can now be kept on a tight leash. Of course, there is the added attraction of putting a tax on online gambling revenues, generating cash that can be used for the benefit of all. Markets open up all the time, and, currently, Greece is going through regulation.
Peru joins the online market
Just getting reliable internet to the masses in Peru has been a struggle enough for the Government. But now the infrastructure is in place, and it has been quick to regulate the online gaming industry. The Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism has embraced deals with online operators, and there is now an excellent choice of online casinos in Peru.
The recent success in Peru probably would not have happened if it was not for the pioneering work of authorities in Colombia, who passed full legalization back in 2016, with regulation for all games of chance. The Coljuegos is responsible for operating and issuing regulations for companies operating online betting, including casinos and sports betting.
Other countries noted the financial benefits, with the Coljuegos revealing the Government in Colombia had made tax revenues of $8.9 million thanks to the online gambling initiative.
One of those to sit up and decide to act was Mexico, where gambling regulation is channeled through the Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB). Licenses have been granted to national and international operators, which means there are plenty of destinations for Mexico's online casinos.
Argentina has followed a similar route to the United States. Although ruled out at a federal level in the US, individual states can pass online gambling regulation, which has happened in places like New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Illinois.
In Argentina, a nationwide acceptance is not in force, but provinces can pass local legislation to allow online gambling.
All eyes on Brazil
Now all eyes are on Brazil, where the sports-mad public would absolutely enjoy online betting. It is believed laws could be introduced there in 2021 or 2022, although the coronavirus pandemic has clearly focused minds elsewhere. The Government believes online gaming revenues could hit $3.7 billion in the country, which will bring in healthy tax revenues for the state.
Once Brazil embraces online gaming, it's expected that other countries in South America will follow suit. Uruguay, for example, despite having popular land-based casinos in glamorous cities like Punta del Este, does not allow online casino gambling or sports betting.
Brazil is absolutely the big prize. Online operators are circling, licking their lips at the prospect of Brazil's massive 210 million population (as of 2018) accessing online gambling sites.
It would certainly be the icing on the cake for LatAm, which has slowly but surely been embracing online betting, country by country. Progress has been so good that players, at least, now have many more places where they can gamble safely online than ever before.
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