While the world's most important businessmen visit Brazilian lands to interview the authorities and try to lobby their industrial sector, the country is being seen as one of the largest markets for online gambling. According to recent statistics, Brazil has enormous social and economic potential for the development of Internet games, at a time when its growth does not seem to have a ceiling.
At the end of May, Sheldon Adelson, president and founder of Las Vegas Sands, met with the mayor of Rio de Janeiro to communicate his intentions to invest in hotels and casinos in that region. Another of its targets is São Paulo also for its hotel infrastructure and international airports. This was the second visit of the gaming tycoon in one year, one of the 20 richest men in the world and the owner of a gaming empire with casinos in Nevada and Macau. Adelson does not visit Brazil for mere romantic issues, he knows the potential of the country and wants to be the first in line when opening the gate to gaming.
However, if the country wants to become one of the biggest markets in this activity, experts in the field believe that with the mere face-to-face gaming will not be enough. Brazil is the South American country with the largest population and, for experts, this may be one of the conditions that will catapult the growth of the gaming market. A population that is mostly connected to networks, with large cities and a high percentage of mobile phones in the hands of its inhabitants, is a matter of interest to many operators of online betting companies.
According to data published by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), with a total population of just over 208 million inhabitants, the country has about 116 million people with Internet access, equivalent to 64.7% of the population over 10 years. Of this universe, more than 85% are young people between the ages of 18 and 24, and according to the IBGE survey, 63.3% of families have access to the networks. Data from the National Survey by Sample of Continuous Domiciles revealed that in 92.6% of Brazilian households there is at least one cell phone, which is used in 99.7% of cases to access the Internet.
This information reveals a scenario that operators of big online gaming companies will not ignore. Mobile telephony has consistently contributed to the exponential growth of networked gaming development; and in the Latin American region the level of penetration of social networks and games on the Internet is one of the largest in time invested by users. Online operators are developing new tools and modern platforms easily accessible to the Latin American market, making all their marketing machinery work.
A survey conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) examined the demographic and behavioral differences of players online for real money. One result found that online gamers tend to be mostly young, middle-income, and more schooled men than players in face-to-face options such as slot machines. Additional research has also indicated that online gamblers are less likely to be married and more likely to be students than non-internet gamblers.
With regard to gender-based behavior and game preferences, the UCLA survey found that men prefer sports betting, horse racing betting and skill games such as poker, while women predominantly choose games such as slots and bingo online. The study also shows that while in the women's group the age of the majority of female players in online casinos and slots range from 46 to 55 years, in the male group the age decreases because they concluded that most players on the Internet with real money is in the range of 20 to 35 years, with sports betting and online poker games having the highest penetration.
In Brazil, according to IBGE data, 81.2% of the country's students are connected to the Internet by mobile phones and in higher education levels the percentage increases. Thus, while in elementary school 11.2% of the students use the network, in the higher education groups this number reaches 95.7%. While gambling is banned in Brazil and therefore can not be measured accurately, it is estimated that the online entertainment segment is used by 76.4% of Internet users.
Although it has already been commented, it is worth mentioning that the question of a modern and comfortable regulation for operators should not be overlooked, because for the equation to work must have certain peculiarities. In principle, a successful regulation will have to be simple and effective, avoiding the most common risks, such as high tax rates on net revenue from games and prizes, which does not make the market fully accessible to operators and players.
The volume presented by the Brazilian gaming market invites future regulators not to impose unnecessary restrictions on operators with the apparent rationale of protecting players. In modern and successful regulations, the care of players is restricted by children and adolescents, compulsive gamblers and other groups at risk. Without neglecting the health of the population or eliminating any question that is considered harmful, regulators have to avoid driving operators into a bureaucratic labyrinth channel or extreme and impractical requirements for licensing because known experiences in other jurisdictions show that those practices only really leads to an increase of illegal gaming.
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.