Global changes due to the health emergency have changed the way multiple businesses operate, not only in the short term but also permanently. When it comes to live entertainment, the consequences have been more palpable, although many industries have been able to adapt to the changes quickly.

Sports betting in Latin America has seen an acceleration in the shift from retail to online betting. Customers are becoming increasingly accustomed to playing via their mobiles, with greater control over how and when they bet.

In an interview for SBC Americas, Alonso Jibaja, Head of Business Development in Latin America at Betgenius, explained that, as with other sectors, when betting shops re-open for business, consumer behavior isn’t simply going to revert back to what it was three months ago.

“Online betting activity will continue to rise. Over the next 12 to 18 months, I expect to see local casinos and sportsbooks prioritize investment in their online products as part of wider omni-channel strategies,” he said

According to Jibaja, online markets are fiercely competitive, with players able to choose between products via a few touches of a button. “Latin American sportsbook brands are quickly discovering that differentiating and getting your user experience right is key to winning long-term market share.”

Regional sportsbooks have also learned key lessons during the pandemic, but they’ve mainly highlighted the value of official sports content. “With sports worldwide forced to play behind closed doors and live TV coverage not always available, trustworthy live content has been placed at a premium,” he explained.

As the official data partner to ongoing and returning leagues globally, including the EPL, Serie A, Bundesliga and Costa Rican Primera Division, Betgenius has full authorization from governing bodies to enter venues and capture official live data feeds – even when stadiums are empty.

“Across all sports, this official content is playing a key part in helping our Latin American partners maximize in-play turnover on every game, eliminating unnecessary market suspensions and bet rejections, and ensuring bets are resulted in seconds.”

Daily sportsbook turnover is currently well up in comparison to the last three months, thanks to the return of major European football leagues. for operators, professional  basketball’s comeback in Spain and Germany is also a boost.

Although leagues are slowly rescheduling their games, Latin American players have particular preferences, and they change according to the gamblers’ region.

“Football bettors in Colombia and Mexico like to overwhelmingly get behind short odds favorites, usually in their accumulator bets, so local liabilities are going to be heavily skewed towards the elite sides.”

Jibaja also stressed that with sportsbook margins heavily reliant on football right now, “…having the trading and risk expertise to handle this activity and balance books day-in-day-out is going to be crucial over the next few weeks”.

Esports, the perfect ally for sports betting 

Due to their digital nature, pro esports competitions have been able to safely go ahead throughout the pandemic with players based remotely. In March, April and May, these events made up a sizable proportion of live content traded by Latin American sportsbooks.

“Console titles like FIFA, NBA2K and a range of motorsport games were strong revenue drivers for our partners in Colombia and Mexico,” he revealed.

Live streaming content has also been key to increasing turnover over the past three months. Giving players a chance to watch the live action on-product as their bets play out has helped drive betting interest and engagement with sports like tennis and table tennis while coverage numbers have been low.

Many have pointed out that esports are the next popular sport, but what is its true potential? Will esports interest ever outweigh traditional sports?

According to Jibaja, the betting potential of esports differs between markets. Once Brazil opens up its sports betting market, esports will be a core turnover driver and a strong offering across all titles is going to be important. Whereas in Mexico and Peru, esports currently has limited reach.

“As Latin American territories continue to digitize, familiarity with esports is only going to grow. Over time, it could rise to become a top five betting sport however it’s difficult to see it ever displacing football, basketball and baseball.”