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A Brief History of Betting in Argentina

May 2, 2017

Argentina might only sit third on the list of South America’s biggest countries by population. With regards to the gambling industries, though, it’s probably the largest player in the region.    

The Spanish-speaking nation boasts a rich history with both sports betting and casino games. Let’s take a closer inspection at the journey, along with its current situation.  


Horse Racing & Beyond  

 Gambling in one form or another in Argentina dates back long before it gained independence in the 19th century. However, sports betting as we know it truly took off after the Buenos Aires Jockey Club was established in 1882. This provided the platform for the king of sports to grow steadily over the next century and a third. Nowadays, the country boasts several racetracks while horse racing is firmly one of the nation’s great loves. 

Away from horse racing, Argentina is equally passionate about soccer. The first football match in the South American soil took place in 1867, and it has since become a sport of the people. Unsurprisingly, betting on football matches has grown in popularity too.     

While unlicensed gambling has taken place over the years, Argentina’s government is relaxed over gambling laws. Of course, laws are in place relating to age and other parameters. However, designated betting shops have been a common feature for decades. They largely started out as independent sportsbooks. But this landscape has changed dramatically over the years with global brands enjoying great success. Since the 1990s, Ladbrokes has been the most notable.  


Argentina’s Love Of Casinos  

Sports betting is far from being Argentina’s only gambling passion. One of the main reasons that Argentina is so liberal regarding gambling is that it generates around $4bn annually. Casinos are one of the main reasons.  

Argentina boasts a greater number of casinos than any other country in the region. Those gambling establishments can be found throughout the nation while some places are famed for their casinos too. Virtually all games imaginable are operated on Argentine soil too, offering something for all punters.  

As well as casinos, Argentina holds a national lottery, which started back in 1944 and remains popular to this day.


The Recent History: Online Betting  

Ladbrokes, along with other sportsbooks, changed gambling in Argentina forever in the 1990s. Since the turn of the millennium, though, the major change has been the introduction of online gambling.    

BetVictor (then Victor Chandler) became the first licensed operator in the country back in 2006. Since then, several international firms have followed suit. Meanwhile, an array of domestic operators is also open to the Argentine market.  

The authorities do still have laws and have banned various foreign companies, including BetVictor. Still, many of those that aren’t regulated can still take custom from this demographic. Generally speaking, though, consumers throughout the country can bet through multiple channels. These include shops, casinos, telephone services, and the internet.  

Argentinians have been betting on sports and casino games for generations, and continue to do so in their millions. Its status as South America’s biggest market looks set to stay for years.  

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