Betsson is arguably the most famous brand to emerge from Sweden since IKEA. And the gambling giant is building a global footprint that is becoming every bit as impressive. The recent announcement that Betsson is to team up with Big Bola to bring an American-style online gambling experience to Mexican punters is just the latest in a series of strategic partnerships across Latin America.
Mexico’s online betting revolution
Mexico has always had a strong affinity with gambling, although the activity was outlawed throughout the second half of the 20th century. When a new regulatory framework was introduced in 2004, it was just as online gambling was starting to gather serious momentum. As such, Mexico is quite a mature market, certainly in comparison to its neighbor to the north. According to some industry insiders, however, it is growing faster than any other online gaming market, and its current value of $300 million per year is just the beginning.
As such, there is already a wide selection of offshore providers that are available to the Mexican market. Platforms like FlashCasino.org help to identify recognized casino brands that provide the best gaming choices, high levels of customer service and everything else that today’s discerning online gamblers expect. However, there are few brands that are specifically tailored to the Mexican market.
This is the market gap that Betsson is looking to exploit by partnering with Big Bola. The joint venture will be branded Betsson Mexico and will offer all the usual Betsson gambling products including casino gaming, live dealer games and sports betting. The latter will be heavily focused on domestic sports, although it will also offer bets on all the major leagues, events and tournaments in the US and the wider world.
Betsson’s expertise and infrastructure in terms of technology, licenses and infrastructure is well known. But what does Big Bola bring to the party? The casino chain already has facilities in 20 locations throughout Mexico, and in short, nobody knows the domestic gambling market better. Emilio Quiros is the Director of Operations at Big Bola, and he said in a press statement: “We are happy that Betsson Group has chosen to partner with us for their operations in Mexico. We believe that our market expertise and their knowledge and experience about online gaming will result in an outstanding product for Mexico.”
Management at Betsson was just as effusive. CEO Jesper Svensson described the partnership as “yet another expansion” into the Latin American region, which is clearly one of Betsson’s primary focuses at present. It is worth noting that the company has entered into similar strategic partnerships with local casino operators in Brazil, Argentina and Colombia, so it is a tried and tested business model. As Svensson put it, the company strives to work with partners that “live and breathe the local culture” and he added that this helps the brand to deliver a superior customer experience.
Change in the air?
We mentioned earlier that Mexico’s gambling legislation dates back to 2004. It is evident to all that the industry has seen some dramatic changes over the subsequent 17 years, and there are growing rumors that more legislative reform could be on the medium term horizon.
The exact nature of that reform has yet to crystalize, but the likelihood is that it will revolve around tighter controls of unlicensed providers. The new legal frameworks springing up across the US and indeed the wider world, have shown just how many tax dollars a properly regulated online gambling market can generate.
There is no doubt that this is already a thriving industry in Mexico, but there is a distinct lack of any tangible measures to deter unlicensed offshore operators from courting a Mexican customer base. Punters might argue that this gives them even more choice, but regulation benefits everyone.
Of course, more tax revenue is ultimately to the common good, but there is a more direct benefit to gamblers. To obtain a license in Mexico, an online casino must demonstrate compliance to basic requirements in terms of cybersecurity, encryption, anti money laundering, data protection, quality assurance and so on. Applying for such a license is not an onerous task, so when an operator chooses to continue flying under the radar, it raises red flags as to why.
Having a big name like Betsson entering the fold, will only encourage lawmakers to do all they can to keep the overall shop in order.