With LatAm hot on the agenda and Colombia proving itself as the regional posterchild for regulation done correctly, CasinoBeats sat down with some of the continent’s leading gaming suppliers to talk through the latest on market developments – as well as the ongoing effects of lockdown.
In the first of a two part Colombia special, we caught up with Vera Motto, business development executive at Habanero, Ruben Loeches, CMO at R Franco Group, Sebastian Damian, commercial director at Booongo, Alessandro Sposito, commercial director at ESA Gaming and Unai Concha Olabarrieta, business development manager at OneTouch to get their thoughts …
CB: Colombia is now frequently discussed as one of LatAm’s most promising territories for the gaming industry. How do you see the market?
AS: The Colombian market is clearly a very exciting territory at the moment. With uncertainty in some European regulated markets, much of the focus is on both North and South America, but Colombia stands apart as one that is a hotbed for innovation and seems to be thriving.
For us, it is a market of significant possibilities, with a number of commercial deals in the works. We have seen great interest in our EasySwipe lightweight mobile games, which act as a unique cross-sell tool for sportsbooks and online casino and fits the market perfectly.
VM: Since setting the regulatory process in motion back in 2016, the Colombian market has gone from strength to strength. Operators who pioneered the territory early on continue to reap the benefits now.
As the jurisdiction matures and the volumes grow, operators and providers from across the globe are now flocking to the territory. Although those who launched in Colombia in 2017 continue to dominate today, some of the market’s more recent entrants have grown impressively fast, having been able to provide diversified high-quality content. With the right local network of partners, the opportunities are plentiful for the nation’s nascent online sector.
RL: With an open, competitive and well-regulated commercial environment, Colombia has set an example for other LatAm markets to follow. The regulation of online gaming has already provided a welcome source of revenue for the national economy. The government has also benefited greatly from the capital raised from gambling itself, as well as parallel revenue streams such as industry conferences.
The country’s successful creation of an attractive market for both operators and suppliers makes it a reference point for other Latin American territories. With a host of key verticals now ready to be explored, the future remains promising for this exciting jurisdiction, and certainly an example for others to follow.
SD: Colombia is definitely a shining light among Latin American regulated markets and obviously is growing very fast. However, it still has a lot more to offer and will continue evolving in the coming years. Looking at the region as a whole, Colombia is just the tip of the iceberg. The country’s widely viewed success will likely spur its neighbours to follow a similar model and hopefully create a coordinated LatAm market for all the operators and providers to follow.
UCO: As one among a small number of regulated markets on the continent, Colombia is attracting significant investment. The regulator, Coljuegos, has taken the kind of proactive approach that is predicted to generate impressive growth for the national economy.
As well as drawing investment from the gaming industry itself, regulation will create parallel revenue streams from the ensuing proliferation of, for example, trade shows. The stability offered by Colombia’s promising regulatory outlook makes the country an attractive proposition for companies looking to make their mark on the region.
CB: Coljuegos, Colombia’s regulatory authority, has been spoken about very well by industry stakeholders – what has the regulator done so well to make it a shining example?
UCO: Firstly, when it comes to the relationship between businesses and regulators, it is crucial to maintain an open dialogue. The communication between operators, suppliers, and the authorities there have been refreshingly fluent, and the result is the open and competitive environment we now see.
Coljuegos’ agile response to the COVID-19 outbreak deserves to be applauded. During the ongoing crisis, the body has moved to regulate products such as virtual sports to help the industry continue to drive revenue even amid the disruption to live sport.
VM: From the off, the stance adopted by Coljuegos has been bold, proactive and consistent. The body continued to regulate online gambling products even amid the coronavirus crisis, with a framework now in place for scratchcards, bingo and live casino.
The move allowed our industry to continue driving revenue for the national economy at the time when it was most urgently required. We applaud Coljuegos’ refreshing approach, and particularly its willingness to direct any funds raised towards the country’s healthcare system.
RL: When it comes to cultivating an attractive environment in which to do business, it is crucial to maintain an open dialogue. By communicating openly with industry stakeholders on an ongoing basis, Coljuegos has achieved exactly that, and we’re delighted to be working alongside them.
Testament to the authority’s refreshing approach, products such as virtual sports and live casino have continued to be regulated even amid the global coronavirus crisis. Such progress would simply not have been possible without the commendable industry-wide collaboration initiated by the regulator.
SD: We have to keep in mind that in South America there are not too many regulated jurisdictions and obviously what happened in Colombia is hopefully just the beginning of regulation of the entire continent.
The authorities took the right step to bring a growing market under a regulatory regime and they found the best way to blend a healthy taxation rate with room for growth, so all parties, including the government, share in the success.
AS: The regulator has done an impressive job implementing regulation that allows the industry to thrive. A reasonable taxation rate and responsible gaming measures coupled with operators being able to offer an almost full suite of products allows for greater growth and innovation. By fostering an environment which rewards compliance, it allows players to feel safe, while operators and suppliers approach innovation within a clear framework, knowing what will be encouraged.
Coljuegos has also been open to engage with the industry and respond to any challenges it has faced. From considering allowing poker liquidity between locally licensed operators which is fundamental to ensure a level playing field for operators of varying sizes to the acceptance of gamification tools, the regulator listens to industry needs.