Having had a stellar 2021 after introducing a swathe of new products to its repertoire and experiencing notable growth, EvenBet Gaming has continued its rapid expansion across Latin America – which will be led by the recently appointed business development manager in LatAm, Roman Bogoduhov.
We caught up with Bogoduhov to better understand EvenBet’s ambition for LatAm and how the online poker market is evolving there.
CasinoBeats: Congratulations on the new role! How have you been settling into the position? What are your initial objectives?
RB: I am extremely fortunate as my personal passions align perfectly with EvenBet’s objectives. I appreciate the product that the company is creating and offering, and what’s more, due to my previous experience and love for poker, I know sports betting and online poker verticals inside and out.
We have quickly put effective communications channels in place with management and the wider team, which has ensured a really smooth working environment. This has made it very easy for me to concentrate on developing EvenBet’s business in our target markets, which has kept me busy from day one.
CasinoBeats: Tell us about the LatAm market with regards to online poker. Where is the game growing and what are EvenBet’s plans for expansion?
RB: The great news for EvenBet Gaming is that LatAm has all the ingredients for a vibrant online poker culture, but the market has just started to develop. Poker is hugely popular and the online infrastructure in the majority of the countries is going from strength to strength. A significant part of the audience is still playing offline, club poker is alive here in force, but all these models only allow players to enjoy poker locally. There is enormous space and opportunity across the region for operators to invest in the vertical.
Our goal is to spread the online poker culture and to show how by creating their poker rooms, operators may adjoin players not only in their city or region, but in the whole country or even the continent. The first local operators entering the market will win.
CasinoBeats: You’ve come to EvenBet with a great deal of experience in the sports betting world. How will you use this to inform the company’s development in LatAm?
RB: My experience in sports betting is very relevant for LatAm, since it’s the most developed vertical in the region and players here adore sports and betting on sports. It has become an essential pastime for a major part of the adult population.
For us, it is a welcome opportunity to attract an audience that is already actively betting, so poker would become a part of the entertainment culture in these markets. Sports betting and poker have a lot in common, as they demand players to analyse the events and guess the outcomes. That’s why we believe that sports betting operators will win the most by integrating online poker.
In fact, one of our latest products, Side-Bet, caters perfectly to that culture, allowing players to bet on sports without having to leave the poker room.
CasinoBeats: Now that live events have returned, what have you learnt so far about the LatAm market and EvenBet’s place in it?
RB: The Peru Gaming Show was just a few weeks ago and was my first live event in my new role. Peru is now one of the leading gambling markets in South America, which is why I consider this event essential for our company and the whole iGaming community. Due to the regulation and favourable business conditions, Peru has become a priority destination to build our relationships with potential partners. We have already started several projects off the back of the show in earnest, with more to come.
Other important markets for us are Colombia, Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay, but this list is far from complete and will grow massively in the coming months.
CasinoBeats: How do you see local land-based and retail operators moving forward following the effects of the COVID pandemic?
RB: The pandemic has created a considerable push for further online gaming development, especially for mobile-based gaming. Now, offering mobile solutions has become obligatory. The shift from offline to online and mobile allowed both operators and vendors to get a fresh market perspective and new insights.
In fact, I’m confident that we’re only seeing the beginning of the digital revolution in Latin American gaming. Just three years ago, most retail operators were dubious about going online. Now they’re adopting a multi-channel approach in their droves, using online to become attractive to fresh audiences. With extremely high mobile internet access penetration, a huge proportion of players would rarely go to a land-based operation but are ready to spend hours playing on their smartphones. These players are the future. As a result, more and more operators are prioritising online verticals, and we are expecting their online presence in LatAm to grow continuously for the next five years, at least.
CasinoBeats: We have seen LatAm-based online operations grow rapidly over the past year or so, how do you see this evolving and what opportunities does this bring to the market as a whole?
RB: For EvenBet Gaming as a poker platform provider, it is a perfect opportunity to offer the local companies the tools to conquer the online poker market that has just begun to shape in the region. The next step is to launch more localised poker rooms with an interface adapted specifically for LatAm audiences. This is completely necessary to achieve the right results, the need for localisation at every level is the main message we communicate to our partners before the product is launched.
CasinoBeats: To what extent does LatAm now have a mobile-first framework? How does this factor into your plans for the region?
RB: To an enormous extent. The vast majority of players use their smartphones, that’s why we are offering to our customers the possibility to organise games for all the existing platforms, including Android, iOS, web browsers, including their mobile versions. We fully satisfy the demands of our customers and their users, who are free to play from all the available devices, both desktop and mobile.
CasinoBeats: How does this compare with other regions when EvenBet is active, such as the US?
RB: Both the US and LatAm gaming markets are growing now, but they are very different in many aspects. Online gaming in the US is experiencing a revival after such a long period of being banned, while the LatAm market is emerging as legislation is progressively introduced.
So vendors and operators naturally have different challenges in each of these regions. In the States, there were already monster operators such as Fanduel and Draftkings waiting for regulation to go forward. In LatAm, there are no such monsters. The market is open, but due to the long predominance of black-market online activity, the operators going online here are having to fight for the users’ trust and create the whole iGaming culture that already exists in the US and Europe.