Juan Barrachina, Kambi: Argentina’s Casino Magic has the key factors that we look for in any market

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Argentina has recently taken a step forward by legalizing and regulating sports betting in different provinces, such as Buenos Aires, while others are still in the process of coming up with plans for their own markets.

The trend that started in 2016 when Colombia launched its online market has already been replicated in other Latin American jurisdictions that seek to enter a sector that promises to take off in the coming years.

Although Argentina has the potential to become an igaming and sports betting force in Latin America, mainly due to its passion for sports, it doesn’t have a federal regulation and is currently on a similar development path as Brazil – on its way to becoming the next global giant – which could mean a big obstacle when it comes to launching its industry. 

However, some believe that the momentum in Latin America will outweigh the challenges of having multiple regulatory frameworks within the same territory.

Juan Barrachina, Sales Director at Kambi, shared with SBC Americas his assessment of the sports betting landscape in Latin America and the company’s progress in the region, after signing a strategic agreement with local operator Casino Magic in the Argentinian province of Neuquén.

Argentina recently stepped up and legalized or regulated sports betting in different states, such as the province of Buenos Aires, while others are still in the process of doing so. How competitive do you think Argentina can become once more provinces open up online gambling?

The Latin America market in general is gaining real momentum and is an increasingly important area of focus for Kambi as more countries begin to regulate sports betting. In Argentina specifically, the market is attractive for numerous reasons with a sizeable population of 45 million, which is similar to Spain and Colombia, who really love their sport – particularly soccer. The market certainly has its unique intricacies and challenges, but as more provinces update their gambling regulations, Argentina will no doubt become an ever-more attractive market for sports betting going forward.

What attracted you the most from Casino Magic to decide to seal this partnership to expand in the country?

This agreement with Casino Magic strengthens the position of Kambi in the LatAm region, with the new partner joining the likes of BetPlay, BetWarrior and RushBet. For us, the crucial factor in any market is to have the right partners, along with a localized product, and we have definitely found that in Casino Magic. The casino is one of the leading Argentinian operators and as part of the multi-year partnership, Kambi will support the brand in launching an online sportsbook in the province of Neuquén, adding to Casino Magic’s current online casino offering. The agreement also includes the scope to expand into the retail channel. 

Kambi said that this is a partnership with real promise as it aims to expand into other regulated sports betting markets in Argentina. Which provinces are the most attractive for Kambi in the near future?

This will largely depend on which provinces decide to regulate sports betting. Buenos Aires City has already approved regulations for online sports betting, and could go live in Q1 2021, while Buenos Aires Province has also begun awarding licenses to those operators who made the shortlist last year. Other provinces will soon follow suit and Kambi is monitoring these carefully. 

What I would add here is that our track record underlines our expertise in matters of regulation. At Kambi, we define commercial success not just in signing with new partners, but in launching them quickly and in full compliance with all local requirements. We most recently underlined this in the US state of Michigan, launching four partners simultaneously on day one of online regulation. 

Kambi has adapted its technology to comply with provincial requirements. How different was Neuquén from other jurisdictions in which the company operates? What are the biggest differences for both operators and players?

Like the United States, Argentina is a federal country in which the regulation of gambling resides in the 23 provinces and the city of Buenos Aires. This adds a level of complexity, but Kambi’s flexible sportsbook technology and years of experience in the LatAm region means we can quickly comply with local regulations, allowing our partners to enter the market at the point they choose to do so. The province of Neuquén is no different in this regard, and Kambi will continue to use its vast experience and expertise in the compliance and regulatory fields in other provinces as well.

Once Buenos Aires and other provinces launch their online markets, do you think the country has the potential to compete against giants like Colombia or a prospective one like Brazil?

Colombia already has a well-established market with more than a dozen online gambling licensees and is often seen as a benchmark for sensible regulation in Latin America having grown strongly since going live in 2016. Kambi has a strong foothold in Colombia and is proud of the role it has played in helping to grow the market, powering leading operators such as RushBet and BetPlay.

With regards to Brazil, that has long been on Kambi’s watchlist and when it finally does regulate sports betting it is likely to become not just the largest market in LatAm, but one of the biggest regulated markets in the world. The final online and land-based sports betting rules are anticipated to be released later this year, and we are continually evaluating opportunities in the country.

What are the main characteristics between Argentinian players and other Latin American players? What is Kambi’s process when adapting to a new market?

As stated previously, Argentinians love their sport, particularly basketball, rugby and horse racing, although football is obviously king when you look at the thousands who lined the streets recently to pay their respect to Diego Maradona. Argentina also has a GDP per capita which is higher than the regional average. 

When adapting to a new market, Kambi understands the importance of offering a localized product, both in terms of front-end and regulatory compliance, and operators can drive long-term growth by building their own IP on top of our APIs. Illustrating this differentiation capability, only recently a Kambi partner released its front-end containing not one piece of Kambi code, enabling it to offer a truly unique experience.

Back in 2019, Kambi positioned itself as the “proven player for LatAm incumbents”. Two years later and with multiple partnerships and launches in between, how do you assess that statement? What has changed or improved since then?

We believe that statement more than stands up to scrutiny, and is true for both incumbents such as BetPlay, and those looking to enter for the first time, as was the case with RushBet in Colombia. Kambi has highlighted its operational excellence and scalability by becoming a trusted partner for visionary operators in the LatAm region. Our latest agreement with Casino Magic in Argentina ensures our position in the market will continue to go from strength-to-strength as we look to further build on our extensive commercial footprint in the region.