The opening of the US sports betting market is dominating the industry’s current context and agenda. However, all betting stakeholders should keep a close eye on Colombia’s liberalised and revamped betting marketplace.
Gaining an insiders take, SBC speaks to Luiz Gustavo Zonca, Managing Director of LATAM Sportradar AG on Colombia’s initial progress, and how its agenda could impact and influence further LATAM territories to liberalise sports betting…
SBC: As an organisation, Sportradar has worked with multiple LatAm government and sporting bodies. What principal concerns do they share with regards to betting?
LGZ: Of course for us at Sportradar the priority, as for everyone we work with, is to make sure that any betting framework is the best: in terms of oversight, value, responsibility and integrity. We have found state authorities, regulators and sports bodies to be hungry to understand and learn about how others have done it right and how pieces can be assembled to create the optimal ecosystem.
SBC: The Colombian regulated betting market has gained a fair amount of attention from European operators. How important is an effective Colombian market with regards to expanding sports betting within LatAm jurisdictions?
LGZ: Colombia is a critical market in the region for a number of reasons: a) the country is of a significant size; b) the population of the country is 50 million, and c) the country is super passionate about sports. In this context, no one should be surprised the world’s biggest operators are paying close attention and that their investments in the country are gaining the attention of other countries in the Latam region. From my point of view, what is evolving in Colombia is definitely causing an acceleration in the speed of regulation in other countries. It is becoming increasingly clear that delays in their own country’s regulatory process is leading to lost opportunities.
SBC: Can LatAm nations develop a single betting industry code to allow for a unified business framework, or is this an unrealistic process?
LGZ: This is a really fascinating proposition with obvious advantages. But where we now are in the journey, my sense is that this is incredibly unlikely. Some countries remain unconvinced about opening up regulated markets. Furthermore, some have differences from province-to-province…
At the end of the day, the cultures across the continent are completely different and their legislative frameworks are totally different. All of that renders the chances of a single code or framework incredibly slim.
SBC: What LATAM factors and dynamics do you believe are the most underserved or misunderstood by foreign enterprises targeting the region?
LGZ: One clear misunderstanding that non-native entrants into the region struggle with is the cultural differences across countries and the region. It becomes all too easy to assume that “if we roll something out across the Spanish language countries, that will work”. The language may be the same, but the culture is a completely different situation. Ultimately the Latam region is not a homogenous group. Each country deserves and needs a separate analysis and strategy.
Another important issue we see is the assumption that the guys from overseas think they can run the show here. In my own personal opinion, there are a serious shortcoming with that, as local knowledge, relationships and understandings are critical. More and more I see operators fail because they do not recognise this reality. The result: heavy investments managed from Europe or Asia returning low profits.
SBC: For a developing market such as LATAM, how important is it for early stakeholders to develop a ‘sustainable and responsible’ gambling framework to adhere to?
LGZ: In all honesty, this could not be more important. Creating the right framework with the right ingredients, elements and priorities will then be the foundation, indeed the armour, which will protect the new environment and ventures in the critical early stages. Get this right and the markets will flourish. Get this wrong and the markets will struggle and perhaps more frustratingly, may find it difficult to ‘go back’ and try to rectify things later.
Luiz Gustavo Zonca – Managing Director – LATAM Sportradar AG
International expansion and new market opportunities will be discussed and debated at the upcoming ‘Betting on Sports Conference’ (#boscon2018 – Olympia London- 17-20 September 2018). Click on the below banner for more information…