Exclusive Q&A with Vera Motto, Business Development Executive at Habanero

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Having signed a raft of new deals and partnerships in recent months across Latin America, we caught up with Habanero’s business development executive for the region, Vera Motto, to get the lowdown on the supplier’s latest market movements.

Habanero’s certainly signed a lot of deals recently! Can you take us through your recent LatAm successes?

We’re delighted to be live on some of LatAm’s biggest brands, including BetJuego, Ganabet and Big Bola. We will also go live shortly with DoradoBet, expanding our reach in Peru, where we are already live with a number of key players, including Apuesta Total.

These latest deals cap a string of comprehensive agreements with major regional operators such as Salsa, LatamWin and Codere, with plenty of plans for entering new territories together on the table. It’s fantastic to see how far we’ve come in our short time on the continent and we’ll keep that momentum going forward with a range of exciting deals and market entries on the horizon.

Has the regulation of Colombia’s iGaming market set an example for other countries in the region to follow? 

Without a doubt. Coljuegos has done a brilliant job of regulating a complex market, creating a safe and open environment with a competitive tax rate. The pro-active approach taken by the regulator has paved the way for a productive dialogue between operators, suppliers and the authorities.

In fact, even in the middle of the pandemic, Coljuegos managed to create entirely new online regulatory frameworks for live casino, scratchcards and bingo – which I’m sure no others can claim to have done! For us certainly, this demonstrated a willingness to go above and beyond in ensuring that operators are equipped with a diverse set of revenue streams, preserving a lucrative market for the local economy amid testing circumstances. We’re thrilled to see such commitment.

Apart from Colombia, which LatAm markets are the ones to watch in 2020? 

The city of Buenos Aires and Panama are the two most likely to enter the online domain next; both with sports betting and casino. Puerto Rico’s regulator has also recently appointed Gaming Laboratories International as an advisor, with the jurisdiction likely to finalise the process in the coming months.

Elsewhere, plenty of jurisdictions have pending regulation, with Brazil certainly looking the most promising. Although, even more exciting for us at the moment is Mexico. The market holds a wealth of opportunity, and we’ve only started to make our mark across such a rich and diverse country – and we look forward to solidifying our presence there over the coming months with major local providers.

Do you anticipate entering any of those markets, or launching further LatAm-oriented products? 

Absolutely. We expect to enter Argentina and Panama as soon as regulation allows, with Brazil also on Habanero’s long-term radar. When it comes to games, it has been our experience that what works globally also works best in LatAm. A successful game performs well anywhere, and that’s exactly what we’ve observed with international hits such as Egyptian Dreams Deluxe and Hot Hot Fruit.

That’s not to say that localised content isn’t effective too. Our Mexican-themed title, 5 Mariachis, has performed fantastically on the continent, as have games with Asian themes, most likely due to the historic linkages between the two cultures.

Has LatAm’s gaming industry been affected by COVID-19 in broadly the same way as other territories? Or have you observed differing impacts? 

Geographically speaking, the impact of COVID-19 on our industry has been consistent across the board. An increase in online gaming traffic has been an internationally observed trend, due in large part to the near universal closure of land-based and retail outlets.

One potential difference I may expect in the future is a varied retention rate, mostly due to a larger part of the population being unfamiliar with online gaming before the lockdown compared to Europe or other areas. As part of this, we’re very excited to be stepping up to the challenge of converting a whole demographic of land-based players – and we stand ready to equip our operator partners with everything they need to boost player engagement.

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