Gateway to Latin America

18 September 2002

Manuel Elcorobarrutia is hoping to fill a void in the growing Latin American gaming sector by bridging the gap between operators and Latino players.

Elcorobarrutia has combined more than two years of experience in the Internet gaming business with legal expertise in the Peruvian land-based casino and hotel businesses to create what he says is the world's first Web-based gaming portal directory specifically targeting Latin American consumers.

Operators and suppliers have always competed for a piece of the Latin American market, but Elcorobarrutia says no concerted effort has been made to design gambling-related sites geared solely for the Latin American demographic.

Many site operators, he says, make only minor changes to graphics and implement a language change and expect the site to appeal to the Latin American player.

The new site,, aims to give players throughout Latin America a clear picture of which sports, casino, bingo and lottery sites are best for them.

Elcorobarrutia says the portal is in an infant stage, and he parallels its development to that of the South America I-gaming market.

"The industry is in beginnings down here," he said. "We are one of the last regions to really get behind the interactive gaming craze."

Most industry analysts agree that the Latin American market has been under harvested by online casinos and sports books, and Elcorobarrutia says there's a good reason for that: Countries like Argentina, Brazil and even Peru saw their economies go through major slumps, while the I-gaming business grew exponentially in the late '90s.

Elcorobarrutia feels that suppliers and operators are starting to look more at Latin America now that growth in North America has slowed.

He also says Latin America could be the gateway to new profits and a steadying hand for the industry.

"We have more than 350 million people down here," he said. "If we can convert 1 percent of them, or even 0.5 percent, into online gamblers, then we have some pretty good numbers to work with."

The land-based casino industry fairs well in Elcorobarrutia's native Peru, and he is confident the popularity of gaming in general can be translated over to the interactive world.

Bricks-and-mortar casinos in Peru, he said, move more than $2.5 billion a year. Combine that with more than 2.5 million citizens with Internet access and the country, like many of its neighbors, presents a huge potential for operators.

In 2000, Elcorobarrutia become a broker for online casinos and sports books throughout Peru and Latin America and represented some of the largest portals in the region. Elcorobarrutia couldn't disclose their identities (upon their discretion), but he did say all of them are major, well known brands within their respective industries.

It was in working with those sites that Elcorobarrutia saw the need for a gaming portal.

The site, which launched last week, has seen a decent amount of traffic. The next step, he says, is creating more traffic via affiliates.

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