SEX 22 DE JUNHO DE 2018 - 21:44hs.
Fabián Bataglia
OPINION-FABIAN BATAGLIA, GAMING SPECIALIZED JOURNALIST

Sports Betting: The global phenomenon in the gaming industry

In the year of the World Cup, sports betting is being regulated in some countries in the region of South America and becoming a business alternative for gambling companies, making people who like sports can live it with more intensity. Only in Spain, sports betting exceeds 5 billion euros a year, this represents 50 percent of all the money that the Spaniards spend on gambling.

Sports Betting: The global phenomenon in the gaming industry

The worldwide phenomenon of sports betting is linked to many factors ranging from people's passion for football, basketball or tennis, to the desire of bettors for competition, as well as the good publicity work that companies are doing consistently. The promotions and offers that the betting companies launch in the market every week, attract the most experienced players and add new enthusiasts. It is, in short, a business that promises high investments in the countries where it is regulated.

In Colombia, just one year after the legalization of Internet gaming in all its categories, there are already seven companies offering this type of bets and the Colombian businessmen of the sector are working to offer this modality in their brick and mortar venues. This is an event that is not only linked to the sum of the offers and thus increasing the tickets, but it is also a way for the young people to approach the gaming venues, where in general, the public belongs to a larger age group.

All components related to sports betting appear to be positive for the business sectors and, therefore, for the state coffers. Turning to the case of Spain, perhaps the most paradigmatic since 2012, the year they regulated online gambling, sports bets grew from 1 billion euros during the first year to 5.4 billion in 2017. Spanish sports betting companies have found in advertising a way of having omnipresence that, coupled with the enthusiasm of the football public, creates a perfect setting for their growth thanks to the European leagues, with Premier League being the main one.

Potential Latin American businesses, a region where football is revered, are being watched by international companies as a vast space where everything is yet to be done. The regulations already in place and those being prepared show a huge trade full of opportunities. In Brazil, where gaming’s release is around the corner, the most conservative estimates calculate a sports betting market that comes close to 3 billion reais. Although there is no regulation, there is already a considerable amount of web pages and tutorials in Portuguese intended to teach the benefits of betting to the Brazilian public, motivating them to play. Companies aim to exploit a market that has not yet shown its true power.

When they are regulated, with a marketing apparatus in action and investments can multiply, according to the most enthusiastic analysts, they would generate job creation and new business paradigms. In this way, the new rules of gaming should not only establish questions about how tax collections will be distributed, how operators will be able to act and what will be the ways to grant licenses, but also how will users behave in the sense of protection of minors, prevention of fraud and respect for the principles of responsible gambling.

In Argentina, there are only two legal sports betting sites, MisionBet, which was closed by a court order in June last year and reopened its operations in early 2018, and the website approved by Caja Popular de Ahorros de Tucumán, Pálpitos24. The attempts and consequent federal bills to regulate online gambling in that country have been delayed or directly rejected for political reasons. However, reality shows that Argentines play on any platform at their fingertips and, although there are no statistics, it is estimated that in the country sports betting accounts for 7 percent of the entire mass of gaming's money, approximately 330 million dollars annually. A market on the margins of legality, millionaire and that many Argentine football clubs see as the salvation of their financial problems.

A study by the Sports Economics Observatory of the University of Oviedo, in Spain, shows that sports betting and its impact on the social economy has resulted in the finding that regulated markets benefit more than those where betting is prohibited or margin of law. In this way, the ban on sports betting in the United States, which is currently being debated, has raised the industry in Europe, with the United Kingdom as the market leader. Something similar may occur in Latin America, with some countries having legal gaming and online gambling and others where governments are not determined to release it.

Analysts believe that the regulation of the sports betting industry is becoming not only a business opportunity for entrepreneurs linked to the sector but also a new source of tax collection for governments. In addition, accompanied by efficient supervision, regulation may serve to mitigate the negative effects of pathological gambling and to keep children and adolescents away from gambling, so these rules should also consider possible prevention tools.

In Europe, groups working against the ludopathy claim that unrestricted advertising of online gambling is harmful to the health of the population. They are studying regulations to promote a restriction on the amount of advertising and their broadcast schedules, as they consider that people are at risk, especially minors when exposed to constant advertising and often starring sports idols. Without a specific regulatory framework, this would not be possible.

We must not forget, too, that in the betting world there are many occasions of match-fixing arrangements, even in leagues that are regulated. A recent case is that of the Austrian Bundesliga player, Dominique Taboga, who was banned from playing for life by party arrangement. Taboga said he was blackmailed by the sports betting mafia in Austria, but that country's court says the player is suspected of handling 19 matches. This problem coexists with sports betting and authorities should be aware of ways to control and combat these clandestine organizations in sports, especially football.

Regulating sports betting in all its forms represents a remarkable advance in South America and follows the current trends of the world, however, the benefits of money should not make you lose sight of any danger that this big business may bring.

FABIAN BATAGLIA


Fabián Bataglia. Journalist specializing in the gambling industry; graduated in Social Communication at the CAECE University of Buenos Aires and professor of Journalism and Communication at this university. Specialist in information production and digital communication; currently works in Diario del Juego of Buenos Aires, Argentina.