date 31 May 2024 reading time 9 min views 135 views

Central and South America are not the most advanced regions in terms of the development of the online gambling market and online poker in particular. However, there is great potential in the region that is being realised now.

According to Statista, the revenue in the online gambling market in South America is expected to reach $5 billion in 2024. This is influenced by various factors, including a large population, widespread mobile internet access, the growth of the middle class, and the inherent gambling culture in the region.

The formation of a legal framework for online gambling also plays a significant role. For example, in Colombia, according to 6wResearch, after starting the regulation of this industry from 2016 to 2019, the market grew by 2908%. Colombia’s experience has sparked significant interest in other countries in the region, and there has been recent discussion in the community about unifying the approach to regulating the industry throughout Latin America.

The online poker industry in Latin America is also growing rapidly, although the market is still immature compared to Europe and the USA. Moreover, the situation varies from country to country. The fastest growth is observed in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Argentina.

Revenue of iGaming industry in Latin America

Development of Poker in Brazil

Brazil has one of the largest potentials. For a long time, offline casinos and sports betting were prohibited there, but poker rooms were operating. Cash games were also prohibited, but tournaments were allowed and considered a sport. Consequently, everyone played tournament poker, and Brazilians are now quite noticeable in the global poker scene. There are numerous Brazilian stars, as seen in the Global Poker Index, where Brazilians are also among the top 100 players.

The poker boom continues to this day in Brazil. Many tournaments are still held there. Recently, there was a tournament with a guaranteed prize pool of $5 million.

It’s impossible to talk about poker in Brazil without at least mentioning club poker. Online clubs operate in a “grey” area, and Brazil is one of the largest markets for PPPoker and its counterparts. The biggest unions boast over a million players.

Considering the presence of a poker culture and other factors, this is a very attractive market to develop online poker. Additionally, the legislative framework in Brazil is also progressing in a favourable direction.

Online Poker in Colombia

Almost every casino in Colombia has a poker table. The series of tournaments are held regularly. Colombia is a leader in online gaming regulation, and poker is also regulated and developing rapidly there.

This market is also very important for us, but playing on foreign platforms is illegal there, as well as in the networks consisting of players from abroad. From Colombia, you can only play within Colombia.

Online Poker in Argentina

Argentina is also a very promising country with a large population and accessible internet. There is also progress in regulating the market.

Poker is popular here too, and there are stars that can be noticed in the Global Poker Index. Before recently, Argentina was a leading online poker hub in South America, but now this title is challenged by countries with a more favourable regulation like Colombia or Mexico, and shortly, Brazil.

Poker in Peru

The situation in Peru is very complex. There used to be a very rich poker culture here. But its heyday ended in 2020. Due to the pandemic, it became impossible to hold offline events, and the online sector has not yet developed. The situation has not recovered since then.

However, there is still a small poker community in Peru that is gradually awakening. But this is still a very niche vertical that few are willing to invest in.

The fastest growth of online poker is observed in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Argentina.

Preferences of Poker Players in Latin America

Tournaments with add-ons have long been losing relevance in other regions; this format is considered outdated. However, it is very popular in Argentina and Colombia. Also, in these countries, players like to play re-entry tournaments.

In Latin America, especially in Brazil, players like the mystery format. This is similar to bounty tournaments, where a prize is awarded for knocking a player out of the tournament, but the prize amount is random. Sometimes it can be quite high — around $1 million.

As for cash tables, players all over Latin America like to play with the Bomb Pot option, where each player at the table makes a blind bet at regular intervals. In the last couple of years, Omaha 5 and Omaha 6 have also become popular. This is becoming mainstream for cash tables. Some rooms even offer Omaha 7.

Overall, it can be assumed that in Latin America, the most popular poker variations are those that are more exciting and thrilling, rather than those that require skills in poker mathematics.

Roman Bogoduhov, EvenBet's Head of Account Management in Latin America

Challenges of Online Poker Development in Latin America

Perhaps one of the main challenges for conducting legal business in the online poker sphere in Latin America is that the majority of players prefer grey applications of illegal projects. There are several reasons for this.

  1. Imperfections in payment mechanisms. Withdrawals from an account on a legitimate online poker site can take up to a day. Illegal applications conduct financial transactions through intermediaries, and they are completed within minutes.

Intermediation has a significant downside — players rely on the honesty of these intermediaries. If they are deceived, they cannot even turn to the police because the scheme is illegal. Nevertheless, this argument is likely insufficient for many, perhaps due to cultural factors.

  1. Cultural characteristics. The intermediary system in online poker projects has existed for a very long time, and everyone has become accustomed to it. Moreover, people here prefer to resolve all important issues through personal contacts.
  2. Weak players. It is believed that players in such grey projects play worse, so they attract regular players who aim to earn money from poker rather than seeking entertainment.

The situation as a whole can only be changed through joint efforts of all legal operators and regulatory authorities. Everyone has an interest in this, so most likely, this problem will be solved over time.

It is also important to emphasise that due to the underdevelopment of the market, few can afford to open a standalone poker room from scratch. Poker is usually integrated into projects that already have a large player base, as our partners in Colombia, BetPlay, have done. Alternatively, one can join a poker network.

Poker Network in Latin America

Joining a poker network as a skin (operator) is the quickest and easiest way to enter this market, both technically and in terms of investments. In Latin and South America, the Latpoker project operates on the EvenBet Gaming software platform.

This network has been in existence for over 20 years, with the last 4 years being in partnership with EvenBet Gaming. It is one of our most important partners in the region. Operators from all over Latin America and beyond connect to the network. Currently, there are over 50 skins from Argentina, Venezuela, Chile, and Brazil in the network, with efforts underway to attract operators from Caribbean countries.

Join a poker network as a skin

Operators have alternatives in the market, but Latpoker is the only local product created by local businessmen and based in Latin America. The network offers players a wide selection of exclusive tables and tournaments.

For EvenBet Gaming, this is also a uniquely important project. Our involvement goes far beyond providing software. We are directly involved in the development of the network: providing consultation, participating in marketing efforts, assisting with skin acquisition, selecting new features and tournament settings, and hosting live tournaments.

Latpoker takes on much of the player acquisition work for the network. For example, the network pays out $300,000 monthly as a guaranteed prize pool in tournaments and various promotions.

Additionally, to incentivise players to play more, the network constantly hosts a rake race: players who generate the most rake each month receive bonuses totalling $30,000.

To join the network, you can either create a standalone website or add poker to an existing iGaming project. If you are interested in joining Latpoker or discussing any other projects where the EvenBet Gaming team can assist you, please contact our managers.

Roman Bogoduhov

Article by Roman

Roman Bogoduhov

Head of Account Management LatAm