The gambling industry in Latin America is considered as an emerging one, with jurisdictions that promise to compete on a global level with the biggest markets, as long as they establish favorable and flexible regulatory frameworks.

While some cite Buenos Aires and Brazil as the markets with the biggest long-term potential, and Peru and Mexico as others recognized in the region, none of this would be possible if it wasn’t for Colombia, the pioneer country on multiple fronts.

With just over three years of operational life, the online industry in Colombia has positioned the country as the one to follow in Latin America, especially for those who aim to compete regionally. Its flexible and innovative regulations, which were initially based on Spain’s, have led the industry giants to put their interest in Latin America.

Such is the case of Playtech, which in 2019 signed a strategic partnership with the leading retail brand in Colombia, Wplay, the company that also received the first official online gambling license in the country.

The strategic partnership allows Playtech to increase market share in a country that serves as a stepping stone to jump to other Latin American jurisdictions. What began in June 2019 as an agreement to integrate Playtech’s technology, will be strengthened in the coming weeks with the announcement of the company’s launch of its IMS platform across all products for Wplay’s retail and online operations.

The new platform, using Playtech technology, will give users optimized speed and make navigation easier. It will also allow the option of placing more bets in less time, with data, possible earnings, and the novelty of personalizing the preferences of each user regarding sports, markets, and events.

Uri Levy, VP Business Development at Playtech, and Fernanda Sainz, CMO Latam at Wplay, talked to SBC Noticias about the launch, as well as future projects together in the region.

“With this alliance, Wplay continues in the search of improving the user experience in sports betting, online casino, taking full advantage of the technological tools of Playtech to strengthen its leadership in the country,” said Sainz.

Levy added that “Wplay chose Playtech as its strategic technology partner to delivering its omni-channel platform and marketing services across the leading brand’s retail and online operations” so that, along with the strength and quality of the Wplay brand combined with Playtech’s 20 years of technology leadership in the industry, “will see us drive the growth of the online market in Colombia.”

To succeed in Latin America, experts agree that what may work in other successful territories, such as Europe, often does not perform well there. That is why it’s important to localize the content, create strategies that target players in each country, and adapt to local laws.

With this launch, Wplay solidifies its position as the brand with the biggest market share and innovations, thanks to a platform that it said is “fully compliant with new regulation” to offer leading products and services “in a compliant and sustainable way”.

“This launch means Wplay has the most complete and advanced product and services offerings Colombia,” added Levy.

“Colombia is a highly sophisticated market for gambling, the players have a love of sports and all casino and gaming leisure activities. Alongside this the Colombian players expect a highly sophisticated digital product and this is why it is such an important market to Playtech, our industry leading software has a natural home and audience in Colombia,” said the VP Business Development at Playtech.

Sainz echoed these thoughts and assured that the South American country can keep up with other international regulated markets, especially because of its economic and social impact. “[Gambling] brings important economic development to the country and, above all, protects responsible gambling practices,” he said.

Future projects in the region

Looking beyond Colombia’s borders, Playtech launched in Mexico with Caliente in 2015, and in just five years it has already become one of the company’s largest markets. “Based on the KPIs we have seen since the launch of games with Wplay we believe that the market in Colombia can follow a similar trajectory and even outgrow the market in Mexico,” explained Levy.

Besides Mexico, Playtech recently launched strategic partnerships in Costa Rica and Guatemala. However, the greatest expectations rest on Brazil, since “in terms of future opportunities, the expected implementation of sports betting could provide an interesting opportunity for Playtech given the population and its access to the mobile channel”.

In addition, Peru and individual provinces of Argentina, where they are “lining up licenses as regulation develops in the region,” could also represent an opportunity for the company in the coming years.

North American plans

In one of Playtech’s latest financial reports, the company said that it will focus on the US market. With a proven track record of partnering with and investing in the leading brands in newly regulated and fast growing markets, Playtech’s strategy is to focus both in Latin America and the US, as the “technology spans across retail and online as a technology partner, Playtech can offer a scale of services other potential partners cannot”.

“We believe that the market in the US will develop state by state and be led primarily by sports and also retail presence, as Playtech can offer omni-channel technology that can grow as the market grows we believe we offer advantages many other partners cannot,” Levy explained.

“Our strategic focus over the last 20 years on developing industry leading digital first products, intelligent data driven services and channel agnostic technology has placed us in an exceptionally strong position to benefit from the impact COVID-19 is having on the industry.”

Just like in Latin America, the online industry in the US is also taking its first steps. Although the shift to the online and the global focus on digital and software products was already happening, the pandemic has accelerated the change to the online channel and the demand of digital products.

“This is having a twofold impact. Not only is there increased demand for our digital products that can function at scale, moreover the growth in digital demand requires intelligent data led software and player monitoring tools.

“Thanks to our strong reaction to the pandemic and strong balance sheet we can accelerate many of our existing plans in order to capture the opportunities that have been created. The sophisticated consumers expect omni-channel functionality as a minimum,” Levy said, although he admitted that in a fractured state by state regulatory system “this is hard to achieve,” as it requires “technology with scale and proven omnichannel capabilities.”

“IMS is a GLI-19 Certified Platform –the de facto standard respected by a majority of US regulators. [It is] integrated with all leading US and International Content Providers, including Scientific Games, IGT, NetEnt and others,” he explained.

“It’s geolocation and KYC-ready for all state regulatory requirements, through integrations with Geocomply and others, and has out of the box support for major payment methods used across the regulated US states,” he concluded.