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Interviews

Providing the ideal fit

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Providing the ideal fit

 

Online lottery platform provider NeoGames recently completed its acquisition of Aspire Global, in a deal designed to turbo-charge the growth of both parties in North America. Quincy Raven, Aspire Global’s Managing Director – US, talks to Gaming Americas about how the partnership makes perfect strategic sense, given both parties’ shared heritage and joint aspirations.

How does the acquisition change the way Aspire Global approaches the opportunity in North America?

The NeoGames transaction is completely transformative for our growth trajectory in the North American market. NeoGames and Aspire Global were previously within the same company, before NeoGames addressed what was then a niche proposition of iLottery in North America and subsequently expanded on a global basis. In parallel, Aspire Global was growing successfully in Europe, Africa, Latin America and North America – a process that is still ongoing, of course. Succinctly, within my remit here in the United States, NeoGames brings 17 state licenses to Aspire Global. That provides us with immediate opportunities in each of those states and those licenses – be it iGaming or iLottery, depending on the jurisdictional authority – will accelerate our business dramatically.

How will these competitive advantages present themselves?

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When I first joined Aspire Global last summer, we were looking at the United States as a very new market from a platform viewpoint. I have spent time speaking with a wide range of people from commercial, product, and services perspectives, as well as getting involved into the detailed with regulators. From there, we have been working with our product and operational teams to ensure we were absolutely, 100% ready for the moment we deliver our entire suite of products and managed services to a US operator. In North America, it is about replicating the best practices we have implemented in other regions.

To provide a specific example, NeoGames’ partner Caesars, a key customer through their acquisition of William Hill, runs on the NeoSphere (PAM) platform. That proof of execution and scalability demonstrates exactly what we can achieve for operators here in the US and Canada. The same technology we use to support a national brand to roll out from state-to-state within a central platform can then be utilized on a localized basis. For tribal casino operators, this means they have access to platform technology that is nimble, modern and adaptable to be able to cater to local patrons or as part of a multi-state strategy.

What is the importance of the PAM being utilized by both NeoGames and Aspire?

We have been using the same PAM back-end between companies for the entirety of NeoGames’ existence. The sharing of this code and expertise presents us with a competitive advantage when talking to operators of any size. There is always a desire from operators to differentiate themselves, to find that uniqueness that resonates with their patrons in their target markets. Given the state-by-state approach to regulation we have here in the US, there are regional differences from a compliance standpoint which in some cases affect the player experience. When it comes to updating features or amending regulatory requirements within the PAM, if an operator has to address every instance in each state, rather than taking a roadmap approach which is released once and deployed across a network, that is a major advantage that we and our partners benefit from.

While sitting down with operators that use other providers and discussing exactly what our platform is capable of and how we support their brands with services, the response has been resounding, particularly when it comes to our CRM capabilities. If you look at the US market over the past year, there has been widespread realization by operators that casting the broadest net possible, with seemingly endless deposits bonuses, isn’t sustainable. Instead, player marketing focused on specific segments and offering real-time, in-app bonusing and experiences, allows the operator to attract the right profiles and retain patrons in this highly competitive market. Retention is something that Aspire has been honing for years, beginning as a B2C and now a pure-play B2B provider driving profitable growth. With our platform, the same premium product is presented to the player, backed by our CRM tools that drive sustainable long-term growth. Given the sophistication, at every player touch point, operators are able to make better informed marketing decisions.

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Finally, how has the acquisition affected the way both companies operate?

The completed transaction gives us two company divisions. In total, we are a fully digital company that is iGaming, iLottery, and sportsbook, all wrapped up with Managed Services. Within our organization, we consist of two separate divisions – one with a lottery leaning, the other online gaming – that share technology. In terms of my day-to-day role, it means that I work in exactly the same way I did before, but with additional resources at my disposal.

A great example is our NeoGames operations hub in Lansing, Michigan. This operation center cover everything from customers service, VIP management, risk and fraud through the entirety of the player journey – in a country where localized talent and an understanding of our customer tendencies and preferences is priceless. In the iGaming space, for Aspire Global it means there’s already robust infrastructure in place that we will utilize as our operational hub. Interestingly, though, it was actually Aspire that originally set up the operation with NeoGames seven years ago, so it’s exciting to see how things have come around in a full circle.

Aspire Global is exhibiting at G2E Las Vegas 2022, which takes place at The Venetian Expo, from 10th to 13th October, at Stand 2032.

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Interviews

Why is LatAm such an important market for 3 Oaks Gaming?

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Why is LatAm such an important market for 3 Oaks Gaming?

 

3 Oaks Gaming is beginning to establish itself across regulated European markets, but now it has a focus on gaining a footprint in the rapidly evolving Latin American region.

We spoke to 3 Oaks Gaming’s Account Manager LatAm, Henrique De Simoni, about the distributor’s plans for LatAm and the overall appeal of the region.

 

3 Oaks has recently signed multiple deals in LatAm. How did those deals come about and are there plans for any more partnerships in those territories?

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It is fantastic to sign a range of deals across LatAm, initially in Colombia and Mexico before sealing a number of agreements in Brazil. Colombia, in particular, is now a mature jurisdiction and entering the market there first ahead of other regulated territories was something that we felt was a sensible move for us.

Luckia and BetPlay are two of Colombia’s foremost operators, with a huge network of suppliers under their remit. To sign deals with those two giants undoubtedly bolsters our reputation within the region.

We also have Bet7K and F12.bet with our portfolio in Brazil and many more operators that are almost ready to go live in the next semester.

Overall, we have connected with multiple casino platform providers, such as Vibra Solutions, Alea, Hub88 and Salsa Technology, extending the reach of our content across the continent and we are excited at what the future holds for us with these partnerships.

 

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Why were Colombia and Mexico first on 3 Oaks’ list when entering LatAm?

Colombia and Mexico emerged as the top choices for several compelling reasons. Firstly, both countries exhibit substantial market potential, with burgeoning populations eager for new and exciting gaming experiences. Additionally, the regulatory landscapes in Colombia and Mexico have been evolving positively, offering conducive environments for the expansion of the gaming industry. This regulatory stability provides a solid foundation upon which we can build our operations and establish long-term success.

Despite Colombia’s rapid maturity within the gaming sector, our thorough analysis identified continued high potential for growth. By securing certification for our games in Colombia, we’ve positioned ourselves to capitalise on the evolving landscape and seize lucrative business opportunities.

Mexico is now the second market in terms of volume, internet betting traffic and great demographic numbers related to gambling in LatAm. This opportunity of offering casino games for Spanish speaking countries that adores sports is something that challenges us and makes the industry more competitive in terms of generating the best premium slots.

 

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What other LatAm regions are 3 Oaks targeting over the next 12 months?

With some provinces in Argentina already regulated, such as the capital Buenos Aires, this is a key market for us as we look to expand across the continent. Argentina has shown substantial numbers in the iGaming market and can easily become the third largest country in terms of GGR.

However, we are also looking at other regions in LatAm as we try and finalise further partnerships here so watch this space as our journey continues!

 

With Brazil on the cusp of regulation, how do you think the space will pan out over the next 12 months and what plans does 3 Oaks have for the region?

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It’s no secret that Brazil has been our number one target and we are thrilled to be live in the jurisdiction through a number of agreements already. Certain analysts predict that the market is expected to be worth over US$3 billion by 2028, which is an astonishing prediction, but also an incredibly exciting one.

We will see an increase of mature companies trying to expand in Brazil and can expect to reach the biggest operators with our approach and outstanding customer experience. We have premium slots, a team that believes in the market and everything to make our brand visible for our Brazilian customers.

These numbers ensure Brazil will be the jewel in Latin America’s crown once it fully regulates, and thanks to the deals we have in place, we feel we are well positioned for future growth when regulation finally kicks in.

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Interviews

“Francisco Leiva: Forging the Future of the Gaming Industry in Chile”

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"Francisco Leiva: Forging the Future of the Gaming Industry in Chile"

 

In the vibrant gaming industry in Chile, Francisco Leiva’s figure emerges as a key reference. A trained industrial civil engineer, his professional journey spans 35 years, from his beginnings in the public sector to his prominent role as Superintendent of Casinos, and more recently as Corporate Manager of Strategic Development at Marina del Sol. His entry into this industry, marked by challenges and significant achievements, reflects his commitment to progress and innovation. In this interview, Francisco shares his vision, experience, and accumulated wisdom over the years.

 

Could you tell us a bit about your career, professional trajectory, and path to where you are today; What motivated you to enter the Gaming industry?

I am an industrial civil engineer, and my career started in the public sector 35 years ago. Initially, I worked at the Ministry of Health and then at the Ministry of Finance, where I was involved in the drafting and legislative processing of various bills, such as the anti-money laundering law and the gaming casinos law.

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Given my work in the legislative process of the gaming casinos bill, after its enactment in February 2005, President Ricardo Lagos appointed me as the first Superintendent of Casinos to implement the law. It was a significant professional and personal challenge as it involved bringing an industry that was far behind similar developed countries as Chile up to date.

 

During your time as Superintendent of Casinos in Chile, what were the most challenging tasks you undertook, and what would you say was your legacy in the gaming industry?

The main challenge was implementing the new gaming casinos law, which involved setting up the Superintendency, hiring staff, and preparing all conditions for private investors to apply for new casino operation permits. This led to 52 projects being submitted for the 18 available casino permits, with investments exceeding US$ 755 million at the time. Foreign investment accounted for 55%, and national investment for 45%.

The result was the construction of 18 new casinos along with complementary facilities such as hotels, convention centers, restaurants, and other leisure facilities that turned these areas into tourist attractions in the cities where they were built.

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Undoubtedly, the main challenge was meeting the tender requirements within a tight timeframe. We managed to have a competitive process with operators from around the world, radically changing Chile’s gaming casinos industry.

The legacy was transforming the gaming casinos industry from seven municipal casinos to a modern industry with 24 top-level casinos and facilities.

 

What significant lessons have you learned throughout your career? And what message would you like to leave for future generations?

One lesson is that ambitious goals can only be achieved through dedication and by building motivated teams with clear objectives. It’s impossible to do it alone in tasks like these.

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I believe the message is to work with honesty, dedication, and without losing sight of the task entrusted to you.

 

Knowing you personally, not just professionally, what activity inspires you or helps you achieve balance in your life?

Since I was a child, I have been passionate about playing tennis, and I have tried to maintain this passion even as a senior player. In this sense, I think engaging in sports helps maintain a healthy mind and body, which is essential to counter the stress that comes with demanding and complex work.

Similarly, one cannot neglect family life, as they are the ones who will ultimately support you in difficult times.

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In summary, the only way, although not easy, is to harmonize work demands with a balanced life.

 

Finally, what is your opinion on hosting such an important international event in your country? And in a way, being one of the hosts to such important international personalities.

It is very important for the country to host such events that allow interaction among different actors in the gaming industry. It facilitates the exchange of experiences and networking, allowing the industry to continue developing. It is also important for public authorities, especially regulatory ones, to participate so they can understand the industry’s reality and see where the industry is heading given technological and cultural changes.

Francisco Leiva’s story in the gaming industry in Chile is an inspiring testimony of determination and success. From his crucial role in implementing the gaming casinos law to his contribution to the industry’s growth and modernization, his legacy endures as a beacon of positive change. Beyond his professional achievements, Francisco reminds us of the importance of balancing work and personal life, as well as the need to stay focused on values such as honesty and dedication. His optimism and commitment to the future of the gaming industry in Chile are a reminder that success is achieved through effort, teamwork, and a clear vision.

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Interviews

Women in iGaming Interview: White Hat Studios’ Holly Fairweather

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Women in iGaming Interview: White Hat Studios’ Holly Fairweather

 

Holly Fairweather, Director of US Accounts at House of Brands provider White Hat Studios, sits down with Gaming Americas to discuss the growing influence of women in the iGaming industry, and highlights how more can be done to improve the overall gender imbalance

 

Gaming Americas: Since joining the industry in 2018, have you noticed a change in how women are represented within iGaming companies, as well as general attitudes?

Holly Fairweather (HF): When I reflect on the past six years, it feels great to say I have seen a lot of positive changes in our industry and more importantly, an ever-increasing drive to address gender diversity. There is still work to do, and I am reminded of this attending our industry events, where it’s very evident we still lack female presence in C-level roles and on expert panels. It’s also not hard to see walking around conferences the overall gender imbalance that exists. With that being said, I do feel it’s moving in the right direction and I am regularly inspired by women around me being promoted to senior management roles, providing great mentors and role models. Awareness of gender diversity and celebrating success is continually being pushed via various channels, and for me plays a big part in why we are seeing more women have the confidence to progress in their careers and more women enter the industry. It’s also important to say, and why I think change is happening more, that the want of women to succeed and to increase female presence in our industry, is indeed backed by a strong support network of women supporting women, but also of the men in our industry.

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Gaming Americas: How important are groups like Global Gaming Women? What kind of initiatives have they offered to help your own career development?

HF: I’ll be honest, I’m still learning about all that Global Gaming Women offers. Working in the US market I see GGW as a substantial network which offers reams of support from training courses, lean in circles and mentorship and networking events just to name a few. I have taken part in a few of the industry wide networking events, and really enjoyed them, connecting with some amazing people, learning more about the industry. One of my objectives this year is to participate in more events, adding value where I can whether that’s within the GGW network or through other avenues.

 

Gaming Americas: What more can the industry do to make it more appealing to women and ensure they are better represented within organizations?

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HF: It’s got to start within each individual company taking responsibility for equal representation. This is not a tick box exercise to achieve a target on a gender split % by x date but must be about promotions and roles being rewarded to the best candidate for the role, regardless of gender, ethnic background, or sexual orientation. We need to shout about the success stories of DEI within the industry, creating an inclusive work environment will attract not just more women but more candidates overall, increasing the talent pool.

There is also a piece around exposure and shining the light on the fantastic women we have leading the way. Sharing their career paths, the good, and the challenges, to provide relatable examples of success. To make women in gaming not about the stats or portray the headline as a negative but more around showcasing the women that are successful and why, helping more women relate and pursue a similar path if this is what they wish to do.

 

Gaming Americas: What advice would you give to the next generation of women that are looking to make a breakthrough in the industry?

HF: This is a good one! First and foremost, you lead your own progression. Be proactive in building your network, push yourself out of your comfort zone to attend networking events. Reach out to other women in the industry for support and mentorship. That is on you to drive.

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Immerse yourself in a team with values that align with yours, a team that welcomes and promotes diversity of all types and supports and rewards on merit are key.

Build your knowledge, for me knowledge is confidence. Quickly realise it is ok not to know everything, ask the questions and find out. Be solution-oriented, supporting your superiors will get you noticed for going over and above and adding value to your team and company.

I was told ‘people do business with people,’ which I stand by and could not be truer in the igaming industry. Always treat everyone with respect, be kind, be yourself, but don’t forget to back yourself! Relationship building is so key in this industry and has helped me progress to where I am today.

Lastly, take risks. And by this, I mean sometimes you must step out your comfort zone and push yourself to try something different to progress to the next stage. So far, the most pivotable moment in my career and biggest risk I have taken, and I’m sure Andy Whitworth (CEO) and the White Hat Studios (WHS) team won’t mind me saying, was accepting the job at WHS. A brand-new supplier to the US, no content live alongside the fact I had never worked in the US market, so of course there was an element of risk. It was, however, a calculated risk as I was joining a team of experts, senior level management I had worked for previously, in an ever-growing US market. A no brainer now when I look back.

 

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Gaming Americas: From a White Hat Studios perspective, what DEI initiatives does the company put in place?

HF: DEI of all types is something I believe increases the performance of a team, and is something we are extremely passionate about at WHS. As we grow and expand, maintaining a strong culture has never been more important. We recently held a WHS workshop in Prague, with one section of our day spent holistically agreeing and locking down our values as a team, ‘Who we are, what we stand for ‘and ‘treating everyone equally’ is now embedded in our company culture as one of our five core values.

I have been lucky in the fact I have never felt that my gender has held me back in my current role and previous igaming companies. Although I understand this has not been everyone’s experience, I truly believe the more we celebrate success, drive awareness, embed inclusion within our companies, and work together across DEI as a whole, we will continue to see women progress and take on careers in igaming.

 

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GamingAmericas.com (part of HIPTHER) is your one-stop portal for the latest news, insights, and analyses in the gaming industry across the Americas. From legislative updates and market trends to interviews with industry leaders, we provide a comprehensive look at the dynamic landscape of both online and land-based gaming. Whether you're a stakeholder looking to stay ahead of the curve or a gaming enthusiast eager for reliable updates, GamingAmericas.com has got you covered. Follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter for real-time updates and exclusive content. Make informed decisions and stay ahead in the game with GamingAmericas.com.

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