By Thomas Carvalhaes, Product Manager and Owner for Brazil and LatAm, Hero Gaming*
First of all, I want to thank G&M News for this open space to analyze some issues of interest to the gaming sector in our region.
PRODUCT AND BRAND DEVELOPMENT
In my opinion, the Brazilian bettor tends to be more superstitious than an expert gambler in sporting events. The fact that Brazil is known as the country of football does not mean that we are or will be a market where sports betting will predominate. Obviously, if we look at the current statistics, the numbers will indicate that sports betting in Brazil are responsible for most of the revenue from betting sites. However, this is due to the fact that most operators use sports betting as the main bias of acquiring new players, mainly because sports betting are considered legal, even though they are still waiting for proper regulation. Games of chance that are part of the Brazilian tradition and culture are frowned upon for misunderstanding, prejudice and misinformation. For example, jogo do bicho itself has an almost naive dynamic; however, since some organized crime and corrupt politicians use it for money laundering, it is discriminated against. I believe that games of chance are an incredible gateway to the Brazilian market.
SITUATION OF SPORTS BETTING IN LATIN AMERICA
This is another issue that generates a lot of frustration in Brazil. While countries like Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and others already have robust regulations in place or are moving towards brief regulation, Brazil remains in what seems to be an eternal limbo with regard to the regulation of bookmakers. International operators are left to chance with the option of abandoning the market altogether or operating in the uncertainty of what might happen. An even more aggravating factor for this situation in Brazil is that, at the moment, only fixed-rate sports betting regulations are contemplated. I find other aspects equally important for any world market including Brazil. Casinos, live casinos, bingo, video bingo and other verticals are generally excluded of the debate.
POSSIBILITIES FOR GAMBLING REGULATION IN BRAZIL
This is a subject that generates lots of anxiety on potential global investors and operators with an eye on a giant promise such as Brazil. The apparent inertia of the competent authorities is simply sad, given the size of the market, as well as its potential for generating employment, income and taxes for the country. In several events where I had the privilege to participate as a moderator and speaker I have always said the same: gaming market in Brazil is already a reality, whether the Government sees it or not. I believe it’s already time to stop considering Brazil as a ‘promised land’ for gaming, with possible regulatory models, and start applying something practical and concrete, for everyone can be in a winning situation: Government, population, investors and bettors. In the way things are going up to now, we are all losing.
*Thomas Carvalhaes is a Brazilian iGaming industry executive with over 10 years of experience in the acquisition and retention segments. He successfully launched several online betting companies, such as sports betting sites and online casinos in Brazil and Latin America. He has also been a speaker at international events of the sector. In his recent career, he has worked at LeoVegas for over one year and is currently Product Manager for Brazil and LatAm at Hero Gaming.