Although much of the current focus for the sports betting industry is firmly on North America, recent developments in South America are turning just as many heads in the southern continent of the Americas. So writes Dinos Stranomitis, COO for sportsbook software provider Altenar.

With an enormous population of more than 600 million and a strong sporting culture, Latin America is an enticing prospect for sports betting operators looking to enter new markets.

Interest in the region has increased significantly since Brazil’s government began the process of developing regulations for sports betting last year, while the recent introduction of online gambling legislation in the province of Buenos Aires in Argentina is viewed as further proof of encouragement.

Latin America is a huge market with great potential. But this part of the world is not without its challenges. While countries such as Brazil and Argentina are well known for their love of football, and while there is certainly a strong tradition of gambling among their populations, the lack of regulation has held back many online operators.

Difficulty accessing financial services and appropriate payment methods has proven another challenge, particularly as many countries in the region have low levels of financial inclusion.

However, the development of the online market in Colombia is proving the region has real potential. Since regulating the market in 2016, the country has attracted 17 licensees and its regulatory system is being viewed by many as a blueprint for other Latin American countries.

Altenar has been active in the Colombian market since day one, having launched a fully managed sports betting solution for the country’s first licensed sportsbook, Wplay. The operator remains the market leader in Colombia, with about 50% of the market.

Wplay’s success is largely due to the focus on localisation. While other providers tried to introduce European methods into Colombia, Altenar listened to local voices and designed a sportsbook specifically for Wplay. It’s not just about differentiating the offering for Latin America as a whole, but paying attention to differences within the region itself.

While Altenar is also active in Mexico via its partnership with Playdoit, developing products suitable for the two markets wasn’t simply a matter of looking at what worked in one and transferring it to the other – Colombia is a completely different market from Mexico.

Working with these differences from country to country poses a challenge, of course, but nothing that should be treated as insurmountable. Indeed, Altenar is already preparing to expand its footprint further across the region.

We are currently evaluating Peru and Argentina, as possibly those are the countries where operators may soon be able to secure an appropriate licence. Then obviously there is the ‘big bet’ of Brazil, which is a hugely promising country although we are still waiting for the government to deliver the new law.

Last but not least, we are keeping an eye on the Caribbean islands, as we think there could be value there that not many can see at the moment.