LATAM: Racing can be at forefront of gambling expansion

LATAM: Racing can be at forefront of gambling expansion

Thursday, May 12, 2016
Michele Fischer said the rest of the gaming industry would be boosted by the growth of horserace betting

Horseracing could be key to the future of the gaming sector in Latin America if the sport’s stakeholders choose to embrace its possibilities.

That is the view of Michele Fischer, Sportech’s vice-president, sales and business development – The Americas, who hopes track operators and other big players in the racing industry can be persuaded that the expansion of regulated betting will be beneficial for their sport.

At present, racing is hugely popular across the region, but it is perceived as a leisure pursuit rather than an opportunity to gamble. Brazil has racecourses across its vast territory, yet despite a population of more than 200 million people, its racing industry generated just €86 m($98.2m) in bets in 2014, according to statistics from the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities.

While Brazilian jockey clubs and tracks have signed deals with international pools operators and broadcasters in recent years, the industry is still seen as being averse to the growth of online betting. Similarly, Colombia introduced plans for wide-ranging online gaming at the end of 2015, but horseracing betting looks set to remain forbidden following pressure from the industry itself.

Fischer said that it is in the interest of racing’s stakeholders to assess how it can benefit from digital developments.

“As we have seen in not only Latin America but also in North America and Europe, a robust digital strategy – especially mobile – can help racing operators bridge the gap between on course and off course betting, and help elevate the consumer experience,” said Fischer, who will present a session entitled ‘Innovating horse racing to reinvigorate the product and attract new customers’ at this month’s Juegos Miami event.

“Key for operators in Latin America will be to overcome some of the very same issues that confronted operators in North America as they began their shift to digital over a decade ago. 

“First, to determine the best way forward given local political, financial, regulatory and other possible gating factors. Second, to understand how a shift to more online and digital will impact the on-track economics, especially if they welcome third party ADW providers into their market.”

Sportech has developed a huge presence in the Latin American and Caribbean region over the years, with Argentina, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic just some of the countries in which it operates. The company provides a wide range of solutions to operators across the region, from pari-mutuel betting platforms to websites, and it is the incorporation of new technologies such as these that Fischer believes can help racing to thrive. 

“Innovations in digital channels, global commingling, and self-service betting offer opportunities for innovation," Fischer said. “We at Sportech believe that offering robust, engaging and easy-to-use mobile services is vital to engaging consumers, even those who are new to racing. Our systems are used by customers all over the world to help find new markets for their pools and offer new content to their players.” 

With big changes expected in the gambling industry in major nations such as Brazil and Mexico in the future, Fischer added that the sector as a whole can give itself a better chance of success by building strong relationships with racing.

“Horseracing has a long, impactful history in the region and its popularity remains very high," Fischer said. “It is beneficial for operators in other types of gaming to understand how horseracing fits into the gaming expansion equation in the region and to understand how the racing industry – and the organisations like Sportech that service it – provide services that are complementary to other forms of gaming.”

- Juegos Miami takes place at The Biltmore, Coral Gables from May 31 to June 3. For more information, visit www.juegosmiami.com. To apply for your invitation* visit www.juegosmiami.com to find out more, and follow @JuegosMiami on Twitter and visit the event’s Facebook page for further information and the latest updates. Attendance at Juegos Miami will be limited to senior decision makers (owner, director, C-Level exec) from operating companies (private and public including state lotteries), government and regulators from the Latin America and Caribbean region.

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