Last week Latin America focused platform provider and game developer Spieldev rebranded to Vibra Gaming, targeting further growth in a region dubbed as “a sleeping giant”.
With Leander Games co-founders Ramiro Atucha and Marcelo Blanco also joining with a goal of taking the firm to the next level, it comes as the pair follow months of work undertaken alongside Spieldev founder Fernando Rivas.
Taking up roles as CEO, CTO and COO respectively, with a target set of adding “a new generation of Brazilian video bingo and video slots” to its existing offering, the former has been speaking to CasinoBeats about differing player preferences and LatAm potential.
CasinoBeats: What attracted you to Vibra Gaming and what role will you play in expanding the business over the coming months?
Ramiro Atucha: Finding a group of partners and a team that shared my vision for this project, and the support to take this forward, played a key role in my involvement. In this project I’ve got the chance to bring together the best talent with whom I had the privilege to work throughout my entire career.
LatAm is coming up as the next big market in our industry, and I feel that our understanding of that market plus our learning over the past 10 plus years of the regulated European market, gives us a chance to offer a differential to our present and future partners.
CB: Why do you see so much potential in the LatAm market? What are the challenges and how can they be overcome?
RA: Us Latin Americans love to gamble. It is within our culture and history. I had the chance to study and explore the gambling market in LatAm, in places where gambling is not regulated and unwanted street markets flourish. And even in locations where land-based gambling is regulated some levels of street market is still there. The population always seem to find a way to play online, sometimes even just for fun.
Not regulating deprives each of those countries of the chance to tax and control it and at some point I’m sure that reason will overcome prejudice over this matter. Correctly regulated gambling can be a healthy way of entertainment, great source of employment and an amazing contributor to government taxes.
The main challenge is to overcome such prejudice, manage to have an open conversation with regulators in each country and progress in the regulation process.
Success and failure cases need to be jointly analysed as to avoid lack of control, monitor and support of problem gamblers and avoid under taxation as much as over taxation. This needs to be a strong and healthy partnership that contributes to the wellbeing of each market, but that is also reasonably profitable.
CB: How do player preferences differ in LatAm market such as Brazil to, say, established markets like the UK?
RA: Brazil is an exceptional case. By mid 2000’s gambling was completely banned, at that time specific types of games were leading the street markets, for example video bingo and some very specific slot types. Any project aiming to casino games in Brazil (once it regulates) needs to consider that as a starting point.
We also need to consider that the Brazilian market is a lot less mature than markets like the UK, where gambling has been present and developed for years. Some operators tend to see the present as a picture instead of looking at it as a frame of a video.
Under that ‘picture’ concept they state that “players in our country do not like slots, they only like sports betting”. The truth is sports betting is a starting point because of our natural interest for sport, and casino games need a learning curve.
The operators understanding this as an opportunity instead of a limitation will take the time and make the effort to consider their starting point, provide friendly and localised casino content. In my opinion those will make a difference.
The rest of the markets in LatAm need to be analysed with the same detail. Each of them have a different relationship and history with gambling, different regulations that shaped what they had access to, and different types of maturation.
CB: What can operators targeting the region do to ensure they provide players with a localised product they will want to engage with?
RA: First off, they need to consider that localisation is more than translating games and platforms to neutral Spanish and Portuguese and enabling the additional currencies. If they go with the standard offering at the beginning, they will not have huge traction with local players and, in time, players will start to play. Now, the ones that take the time to seriously localise their content and understand the right offering for that market will have a head start against the ones offering their standard content.
CB: Anything else to add about Vibra and the LatAm market?
RA: In LatAm, operators will normally find companies with long years exploiting the land based markets, but most of them have a limited understanding of online, platform integrations, compliance and the technical standards attached to that.
Over the past 10 or so years most of the members of Vibra have had the opportunity to work with many top operators under most challenging regulatory requirements e.g. UKGC, IOM, Malta, Alderney, Spain, Italy, Gib, etc.
In the past few years we dedicated our time and efforts to understanding how to make such standards compatible with a localised offering for LatAm and built the right platform and content around that. In that context I believe we can help, and we can make their launch and growth in LatAm a lot easier and much more successful.