iGaming Times asks Sportradar’s managing director of Lat Am, Luiz Gustavo Zonca, about the possibility of Brazilian betting legislation in 2018. Momentum is building, he says, and the potential is enormous. But those expecting to buy their way in, may be disappointed.
iGAMING TIMES: There appears to be heightened enthusiasm for a legislative breakthrough in Brazilian gaming this year. Is this how you see it?
Luiz Gustavo Zonca: There definitely seems to be a momentum when it comes to the Brazilian market. It really feels like a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’. When we look from the outside, we see that the wider industry is definitely asking about and exploring what opportunities are available or on the horizon.
Having said that, this year involves a Presidential Election and that will take up a lot of time, energy and attention, while generating a ‘wait and see’ climate on a lot of matters. My sense is that we are on the way towards strong regulation in the market, but it may only start seeing real movement after those elections.
iGT: From your own assessments, what potential do you see for the sports betting market in Brazil, and what shape do you expect it to take, whether that be mobile, desktop retail heavy?
LGZ: It is really difficult to make a call like that based on where we are in the market’s cycle. Although it is currently not regulated, today we can already see a large retail operation in place, generating very impressive numbers.
The online component is also very big but it has so much room for growth that companies can explore and invest in going forward. It is early days and for sure the potential is enormous, but it will really reward those that take their time to really ‘study’ the country, consult with experts and invest in the right way.
After all, we are dealing with a country that makes up half of South America: that is over 200 million people, and I don’t think I need to tell anyone how sports mad they all are!
iGT: What challenges does Brazilian sport currently face, that betting regulation may ameliorate?
LGZ: Most sports, beyond football, struggle with a lack of investment and that includes supposedly high profile sports, such as basketball, volleyball and handball. And this is in spite of the fact that Brazil are the Olympic Champions in volleyball and that the Brazilian Women’s Handball team won the World Cup a few years back. But there is constant financial pressure on ensuring the teams stay afloat and that the leagues are well supported. It is entirely possible that revenues and engagement from a healthy betting industry could prove to be an invaluable accelerator for these sports.
iGT: You recently played ‘matchmaker’ to betting operator Bet90 and the Paulista Football Federation – a partnership which as you described will ‘open up Brazilian opportunities. What was your logic in pulling the two together?
LGZ: The reputation of our Integrity Services, which now work with over 70 rights holders across 17 global sports means that we have very strong and trustful relationships with federations in South America.
Because of our unique relationships across sports, and our pedigree in the sports betting space (and all the key players in that space), it felt there was a fantastic opportunity for us to help explore sponsorship partnerships that could benefit both sides. In a nutshell, we end up working like an agency, offering some unique properties and opportunities to our clients, including those in Brazil.
This is what happened with the FPF. They had developed a very interesting package for the 2018 season and when we spoke to Bet90 (who were looking to make a big impact in Brazil), the synergy was obvious to us. A similar story followed with the FCF (Catarinense Football Federation), where we saw an opportunity for Minha Aposta. These two deals are a real eye-opener for us but also very exciting for those two federations.
When these partnerships are complemented with our Integrity Services, that really ensures that all the benefits can come to the league and sport, while safeguarding the competitions from manipulation.
iGT: What advice would you have for other operators looking to position themselves in advance of a regulated betting market launch in Brazil?
LGZ: Those who will succeed will be those that showcase strong creativity and ambition, but who balance this with a sense of humility. Brazil is a huge country that encapsulates a range of cultures in just one country.
Those who think that they can come in and just replicate what they do in other countries will definitely struggle. Research will unlock the opportunities as it will help new entrants understand the nuances and preferences. Brazilians also like to deal with Brazilians so a big spend on marketing is not quite enough.
And those that show the requisite respect and appreciate the idiosyncrasies of Brazil will find the support, find the offering and find growth.