Emerging markets will dominate the iGaming conversation throughout 2023, and the Latin American market is home to multiple new opportunities. Keep reading for an overview of regulations and revenues from Mexico to Brazil and get an idea of the region’s tremendous potential.
Latin America is a land of promise for the iGaming industry. Markets that have already chosen to regulate online casinos and sportsbooks are seeing stable growth in the sector, and countries with favorable regulations on the horizon are anticipating astonishing levels of growth in the near future.
The regulatory status of online gambling varies across the continent. Some countries, such as Ecuador and Brazil, currently prohibit all forms of gambling — with an understanding that online gambling is included — except for state lotteries. In other countries, while it is not officially regulated, it is not actively prohibited either.
Bolivia and Nicaragua, cover online gambling in their overall regulatory framework for the gambling industry as a whole. In Argentina, online gambling is regulated on a province-by-province basis.
Bolivia and Brazil are all among the nations considering or actively pursuing reforms to their online gambling laws. The latter two countries currently have proposed legislation under consideration. Colombia, meanwhile, announced a draft resolution on anti-money laundering measures.
Brazil is often called the sleeping giant of Latin America, but several other markets present iGaming operators with opportunities worth serious consideration. Below, we offer a country-by-country rundown of the South American online gambling market as we enter 2023.
With a population of nearly 45 million, Argentina is Latin America’s fourth-largest country and second-biggest economy. Gambling is regulated on a province-by-province basis, with operators only allowed to offer their services to residents of their province. In those that choose to regulate, operators are allowed to offer virtually all forms of gambling.
The country’s online gaming and betting sector is estimated to generate $2.4 billion in annual revenues. In an effort to bounce back from the crisis of 2020, the government recently announced that the federal tax on online gambling would increase from 2% to 5%. This is separate from provincial and city taxes; the province of Buenos Aires taxes operators 25% of their gross gaming revenue. In the city of Buenos Aires, the tax is 10% on GGR.
The country also regulates gambling advertising. Advertisements may not feature or target minors, and may not be deceitful or misleading. Only authorized operators may advertise their services in the country.
The IPLyC — the regulatory authority for the province of Buenos Aires — began 2021 by launching its licensing regime with a series of partnerships between domestic companies and foreign operators such as William Hill, Bet365, and 888 Holdings.
Brazil, Latin America’s largest and most populous country, is often referred to as a sleeping giant — one that’s long overdue to wake up. At the moment, most forms of gambling are prohibited, but a special commission was formed in 2016 to develop regulations for the sports betting sector. Gambling legislation was ultimately passed in 2018, but the implementation of the scheme has been delayed. However Bolsonaro recently announced that he'd finally sign the regulation.
Lotteries are run by monopolist Caixa, and jockey clubs continue to offer offline horserace betting.
Once the new betting regulations come into effect, Brazil will have the continent’s largest land-based and online sports betting market. With a population of over 200 million (an estimated 63% of whom have access to mobile technology) and a nationwide passion for sports — particularly football — Brazil is a dream come true for sportsbook operators who want to expand into South America.
The entire iGaming industry has been keeping a close eye on the situation in Brazil — and for good reason; within five years of becoming regulated, the country’s sports betting market is expected to be worth over $1 billion.
Chile’s Ministry of Finance introduced a bill to regulate online gambling in March 2022. Current regulations prohibit even the country’s licensed land-based casinos from offering their services online. The planned regulations would allow both casino gaming and sports betting in an effort to increase tax revenues and ensure player safety.
At the moment sport betting is run by a state monopoly and online casinos are illegal, however the wen legislation is expected to allow unlimited number of licenses. Potential operators will pay the Chile'snational casino gaming authority an annual fee of $70,000 and taxes 20% of the GGR.
If the bill to regulate online gambling passes, Chile will become the latest Latin American market to open up to operators.
Colombia is one of the biggest markets on the continent. With a population of over 50 million, the fourth-biggest economy on the continent, a mobile penetration rate of roughly 56%, and a well-documented national passion for football, Colombia presents a massive opportunity for online gambling businesses — especially online sportsbooks.
Colombia became the first country in Latin America to regulate online gambling in 2016, and the gaming and betting market has been growing steadily since licensing began in 2017. With the 2016 regulation of the online sector, almost all forms of gambling, both land-based and online, are now legal in the country — with the exception of online horserace betting; only Coljuegos, the country’s regulatory body, and private operations with government concessions may operate trackside betting.
The industry is posting some breathtaking statistics as it continues to grow. An estimated GGR of the Colombian gambling market reached almost $300 million in 2021, and the state revenue increased by 18% in 2022 compared to 2021, which makes $175 million.
As an economically and politically stable country, Costa Rica is an attractive base for a number of international industries — including the iGaming sector. While laws from 1922 and 1974 prohibit games where chance is a deciding factor in the outcome, the government’s unspoken approval has turned the country into a hub for the online gambling industry.
Authorities permit gambling companies to be established in the country provided they follow Costa Rican law, which prohibits them from offering gambling services to Costa Rican citizens. They can, however, accept players from other jurisdictions.
The government’s tolerance of gambling enterprises and lack of a tax on internet gambling revenues has made the country highly attractive for online casino operators; an estimated 450 companies related to the iGaming industry operate out of Costa Rica.
There is no official gambling license issued by regulators; instead, online casino operators apply for a “data processing” license, and are frequently classified as call centers. Additionally, Costa Rican banks do not process transactions for online gambling operators located within the country’s borders.
The Dominican Republic
In 2022 the Dominican lawmakers decided to create a new regulatory body and introduce gambling tax reforms. The new directorate is going to consist of the public and private sector experts. This change is still to be implemented.
The casino industry in the Dominican Republic developed along with the tourism industry throughout the second half of the twentieth century, as the government aimed to diversify the country’s economy. The 1960’s and 70’s saw the legalization of gambling and tax breaks for private companies that invested in tourism, including casinos.
All forms of gambling are regulated in the Dominican Republic, except for fantasy and virtual sports betting, which are neither specifically regulated nor prohibited. Online gambling licenses cost roughly $230,000, with operators obligated to pay an additional $23,000 in administrative fees.
The Dominican Republic enforces a 10% turnover tax. Operators must also provide the National Directorate of Casinos and Games of Chance a tariff of RD$1 for each RD$100 they process, as well as investing an additional RD$2 for each RD$100 processed for providing technological equipment to the directorate. Operators are also required to withhold 25% of players’ winnings and direct the proceeds to the national treasury.
Land-based casinos and bingo halls were forced to close in 2012. Online gambling, similarly, is prohibited. However, in 2019, a group calling itself the Association of Former Casino Workers of Ecuador began calling for a reversal of the prohibition. The group’s leader claimed that Ecuadorian citizens simply travelled to neighboring Peru and Colombia to gamble, bringing with them an estimated $45 million in potential revenue, and casinos should be reopened. However, no legislation for the re-regulation of the sector has been considered yet.
Guyana’s Gambling Prevention Act prohibits gambling, but there are a number of exceptions, such as lotteries and pool betting. Casino gaming became legal in 2007 as part of a push to stimulate the country’s tourism sector. As of yet, only two casinos have opened, and only guests of the attached hotel are permitted to play.
There are no laws explicitly prohibiting online gambling in Guyana. The country’s Gambling Prevention Act specifically bans gambling in common gambling houses, a requirement that remote gambling does not fulfill. However, in 2013 the government revoked gambling licenses held by remote gambling companies.
With over 120 million people, a mobile penetration rate estimated around 60%, and the second-strongest economy in Latin America, Mexico is widely considered to be fertile ground for new and expanding online casino and sportsbook operators.
Nearly all forms of gambling are regulated in Mexico except for land-based card rooms (poker games are only permitted in casinos) and fantasy sports (which are permitted, but not expressly regulated). Like the rest of Latin America, all games of chance are popular throughout the country, with bettors showing an added level of enthusiasm when it comes to betting on football.
The main piece of legislation governing gambling in Mexico is the Federal Gaming and Raffles Law of 1947. Full regulations came into effect (after much debate) in 2004. In 2021 new guidelines with criterias on advertising, bonus and player loyalty policies for operators were published.
Online casino and sportsbook operators don’t require an additional license, only authorization and a partnership with a land-based license holder. However, the country could stand to benefit if the regulatory authority, the Directorate General of Games and Raffles, were to loosen requirements and issue more licenses.
Aside from racing, fantasy sports, and betting on virtual products, all forms of gambling — both land-based and online — are regulated in Nicaragua. Regulatory authority is split between the Control Board of Casinos and Gaming Venues and the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit. Though land-based and online gambling were legalized in 2001, the industry remains largely underdeveloped.
Almost all forms of gambling are regulated in Panama. Online gambling is subject to local licensing, and operators can offer sports betting, auto race betting, and a full range of casino games. Some products, however, are prohibited; the list includes lottery games, betting on horse races, amateur events, political elections, and other events, at the regulator’s discretion.
Licenses cost approximately $49,900. Applicants must have a legal representative in Panama, comply with all rules and regulations, submit to a background check, and be established in the country. Online gambling is taxed 10% of Gross Gaming Revenue. Gambling in Panama is regulated by the country’s Gaming Control Board.
Regulatory changes announced in September 2020 made Panama one of the few countries in Latin America with a fully licensed online gambling market. Previously, licensees had been barred from offering their services to Panamanian citizens, but now operators will be allowed up to five “.pa” domains. Regulators anticipate licensing between 10 and 15 operations.
Almost all forms of gambling are legal in Paraguay. Paraguay’s sole licensed sports betting operator brings in roughly $4 million in taxes annually. In 2016, the government drafted a bill that would update some of the country’s gambling legislation, in particular when it comes to online gambling. In 2017 Conajzar, the local regulator, organized a sports betting tender that lasted for five years. In 2022 Paraguay decided to repeat this practice.
Peru regulates everything but fantasy sports. However online gambling is still not operational. On August 12 2022 President Terrones signed a new regulation for online gambling and sports betting, and the new official regulator is the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism of Peru.
Most forms of gambling are legal in Uruguay, however only the Banca de Quinielas de Uruguay is allowed to offer online gambling today. However the country is moving towards a developing gambling market status. On August 16 2022 the senate voted to create a proper regulation for online gambling. The General Directorate of Casinos of the Ministry of Economy and Finance will also create a fund to prevent and treat problem gambling.
Casinos and bingo halls were banned in Venezuela in 2011. In 2019, the government approved a cryptocurrency casino in an effort to boost the value of the country’s Petro cryptocurrency.
How can Slotegrator help?
Starting an online casino or sportsbook is no easy feat. Without expert assistance, potential operators can stumble right out of the gate. Our jurisdictional advisory services can assist you with choosing the right market and business structure for your enterprise, as well as acquiring a license.
Latin American bettors are famously passionate about football. Meet their needs with Sportegrator, our customizable online sportsbook solution that comes with a wide range of data feeds and sports disciplines to bet on.
In 2016, I graduated from the Law Faculty of Charles University in Prague. The main area of law on which I focused both during and after my university studies is software law (and intellectual property in general). After graduating from the university, I briefly worked at a medium-sized law firm in Prague, but in 2018 I joined Slotegrator, where I have been working ever since and where I handle the company’s day-to-day legal matters.