SBC Digital Latinoamérica – The importance of loyalty and trust in sports betting

The Latin American sports betting market has become increasingly open in recent years, with Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, among others, moving towards a more liberal regulated online gambling sector.

Speaking to SBC Digital – Latinoamérica, Jordan Gnat, Vice Chair of Futbol Sites – who boasts over 17 years experience in the gambling industry including seven spent in Latin America –  discussed the opportunities in the LatAm sports betting market, the role of publishers in the sector, and shared his opinion on the keys to success, in presentation sponsored by Parimatch.

Gnat began by highlighting the numerous opportunities available in the region, including the increasing liberalization and regulation, stating that while much of the current focus is on the US: “We live in a global world and no longer can countries defend their borders from the virtual world in any meaningful way.

“Regulating the online gambling industry is the prudent approach and I applaud all who are moving forward in this direction. Brazil will be issuing licenses this year, Argentina has already started, Mexico is growing and Colombia has been a leader since2016. Others will shortly follow suit I am sure.”

Further discussing the opportunities presented by LatAm bettors, Gnat pointed to the fact that international bookmakers are facing ‘slow growth in Europe and high cost of entry in the US’. 

Meanwhile, the Latin American market is beginning to boom, with gross gaming revenue from iGaming alone growing ‘by over 15% per year on average between now and 2025, and will be close to $2 billion by the end of 2025’ according to H2 Gaming. This, he argued is a ‘massive opportunity’, and the region is ‘the next major market to focus on’.

Additionally, sports bettors in the region also have the potential to become big spenders, according to research from the Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association that suggests 89% of sports bettors visit fine dining restaurants versus 68% of the general population and 90% visit sports bars as opposed to 52%. Furthermore, 69% use a food delivery app, versus only 28% and 45% bought Nike apparel versus 17%.

The Latin American market also has begun to develop a solid operation base. “There are many services that are built like KYC, AML, Geo-Location, payment processing, etc,” Gnat remarked.

“At the top of the ecosystem, are the operators, or retailers. They are the direct connection to the players and bettors. Below them sit an incredible amount of enabling technology, including game suppliers, CRM companies, BI tools, odds providers, risk management companies, data feeds etc. This group provides the necessary tools to create high level player engagement, data, and customer knowledge.”

This sports betting ecosystem, however, would be nothing without the sports fans, Gnat argued. Therefore, one of the major keys for success for international sportsbooks wishing to break into the emerging LatAm market, is to win the loyalty and trust of these fans.

The Vice President continued: “building trust, and being part of their social ecosystem is key to being relevant. Awareness campaigns are important but being relevant and authentic builds trust and loyalty. 

“A strong presence on social platforms like Facebook, twitter, Instagram and snapchat where sports bettors engagement is nearly twice as high as the general population, creates a loyal bond between the fans and the brands. 

“The power of influencers is key. These are the people that reinforce messaging and decisions. They are a critical part to a media ecosystem and key to successfully building loyalty for betting companies.”

Gnat said that this strategy of fan engagement has been one of the core reasons for Futbol Sites’ success in the sector, stating: “Futbol Sites it uniquely positioned to deliver the most engaged and loyal sports fans to bookmakers in LatAm and to the US Hispanic market as one of the largest digital sports media companies in the region. 

“We deliver approximately 1 billion ad impressions per month, service over 50 million monthly unique visitors and have over 100mm monthly sessions.

“Our Bolavip, RedGol and Futbol Centroamérica brands are top ranking across the region. We have over 10 different fan pages and over 100 social media assets that connect our most loyal fans to their favorite teams. And our reach to over 300 million users on social monthly keeps us relevant and connected to them, and as important keeps them connected to us.”

Gnat believes that the combination of a strong sports fan base in the region and an exciting upcoming schedule of tournaments will lead to increased growth in the LatAm sports betting industry.

“This year we will have the Gold Cup, Copa America, UEFA Euros and the summer Olympics. We begin the road to Qatar with the World Cup in 2022. The excitement will continue as we move to World Cup 2026 where the US, Canada and Mexico will host the world. Once again this side of the Atlantic,like in Rio, will own the World’s attention.

“By then sports betting will likely be regulated nearly everywhere. It will be an amazing event and will create a next level generation of engaged fans.”