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Interviews

How important is the Mexico market for the LatAm region?

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How important is the Mexico market for the LatAm region?

 

Mexico has been a vital cog in LatAm’s crown, with Altenar establishing itself as a major player in the market. With growth continuing to climb in the territory, we caught up with Altenar’s Regional Director Americas, Hugo Llanos, to discuss his thoughts on the impact the current market is having and what it will look like over the next five years.

 

Talk us through Altenar’s presence on the Mexican market – what do you see as your key highlights in regard to bringing your partners commercial success?

We have been present in the market for a few years now and have enough experience to know how to do the proper risk management, and we know what our customers enjoy. In addition to that, we also believe we have the best tools to provide our partners with promotions and bonuses available to drive turnover.

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What makes Altenar a key difference maker in Mexico – what do you see as your USPs vs. your competition?

I believe our bonus tool is probably one of the best around, even though the sportsbook is not necessarily known for its bonus management. However, it allows our partners to work with customisable promotions for their partners.  Also, we are always open to new ideas and developments required by our clients in order to help them achieve their objectives.

  

Looking at the Mexican market as a whole – what do you see as the key characteristics of the market? What’s the share of online vs. retail and how are trends changing?

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Football is very important for LatAm, as the sport is well liked across the region by fans of all demographics. There are also enough customers who have expressed an interest in US sport and this is important for the region as a whole. I also believe the average stake is a bit higher than in the rest of LatAm, which is an interesting point within itself.  Online is definitely growing and should be closer to 70%, and as common as the rest of the region. It is a fascinating market with fascinating results and we will keep a close eye on this over the coming months.

 

How can Altenar support Mexican operators in changing player trends / particular sport preferences over the coming years? What do you have planned?

Any platform needs to stay updated and at Altenar, we are constantly working on the offer, trends and preferences. We understand this part of the business very well and work towards achieving this constant innovation. Our Bet Builder tool was introduced to our customers a while ago and we have also just released some new sports and new markets to combine, alongside unique functionalities in the sportsbook such as player props. This is an exciting time to be a part of Altenar in the region and we are confident we can be a huge player here in the years to come.

 

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Last but not least – what’s your prediction for Mexico over the next five years – how much do you see the market changing?

I believe there will be more participants in the market and a good environment for the online industry to keep growing. LatAm, as a whole, is expanding and although Mexico is a more mature market than many others, the potential to extend our offering across the territory is exciting for us so we are looking forward to seeing how Mexico progresses over the new few years. I believe the changes will be very positive as the jurisdiction becomes more established.

eSports

How Esports Companies Can Address The Confusion Around Gambling

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How Esports Companies Can Address The Confusion Around Gambling

 

An exclusive Q&A w/ Gary Denham, Founder and CEO of Wamba Technologies and Gamer’s Oasis

 

What inspired you to found Wamba Technologies and develop the patented esports platform, Gamers Oasis?

My motivation was the void of wholly accessible online gaming competitions. Wamba Technologies, in conjunction with Gamers Oasis, aims to create a platform where gamers can engage in fair and constant competition, free from any suspicions of impropriety, while winning money as a result of their performance. Basically, players will be able to pay an entry fee into an online competition, compete, and win money back if they place well enough in the competition.

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Could you elaborate on why the misconception of esports as a form of gambling exists despite the legal framework distinguishing skill-based competitions from games of chance?

This misperception arises from the similarities between online esports competitions and traditional gambling activities, particularly where participants are paying an entry fee and vying for monetary rewards. However, at the most basic level, it comes from industry ignorance. 

Anyone who has actually looked at this or participated in esports knows this is no different than tennis, golf, NASCAR, motocross, etc. This just happens to take place online. Aside from that, there is really no difference.

 

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In your recent Forbes article, you draw parallels between online video game competitions and the financial structure of online poker. How do you see this comparison influencing the perception of esports within the regulatory landscape?

This comparison sought to underscore the potential revenue from esports while addressing any misunderstandings regarding its classification as gambling. By framing esports within a recognizable regulatory context and emphasizing its skill-based nature, the intent was to facilitate clearer guidelines and regulations conducive to industry growth. Beyond that, I also wanted to illustrate just how much untapped financial potential exists in the industry, which I aim to capitalize on with Gamers Oasis.

 

How do you think the historical context of online poker and its impact on the perception of online gambling influences the current discourse surrounding esports and its legal classification?

The confusion and misconceptions stemming from the past have contributed to the ongoing debate over whether esports should be deemed a form of gambling, despite its inherent emphasis on skill. Here is where it becomes very clear: remove the internet from the equation and consider the question again.  

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Has anybody looked at “real life” video game competitions as “gambling” in the last 40 years (aside from Las Vegas trying to get their hands on it, and failing)?  Of course not.  So why would featuring the same exact competitions on the internet suddenly somehow magically make this gambling? 

It doesn’t. Ergo, this is CLEARLY not gambling.

 

What measures do you believe are necessary to establish clear guidelines and regulations for esports, ensuring both consumer protection and industry growth?

Nothing governmental. I think where esports are concerned, regulators need to stay out of it. 

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Will they? Only time will tell — but we don’t regulate golf, NASCAR, tennis, or any other sports. Sure, they each have their own rulemaking bodies, but those are not governmental entities, nor should they be.  

I think that to make an exception for esports would set an extremely dangerous precedent and open up all sports to such regulatory oversight. Quite frankly, the day I see the government actually make something in corporate America better, I may be willing to revisit this sentiment. Until then….

 

How much of the gaming population do you expect to be interested in a platform like Gamers Oasis?

With approximately 660 million actual and potential esports players globally, I expect a significant portion of the gaming population to be interested in a platform like Gamers Oasis. Hundreds of millions of players are traveling to various locations to participate in competitions already.  

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To give them the ability to simply access this from the convenience and comfort of their own home is something that has gone over exceedingly well in all other comparable situations which we’ve seen. Banking. Shopping. Poker. Collectibles. Multiplayer, casual gaming. Now we’ll see it with video game competition.

 

What can you share about monetization issues in esports and how Gamers Oasis plans to tackle the problem?

Monetization challenges in esports often stem from an attempt to mirror the traditional sports’ viewer-based model, where money is made by bringing fans out to stadiums or by encouraging them to buy merchandise.  In this model, revenue comes from ad sales and sponsorships in addition to gate sales and merchandising. 

While that works with traditional sports, it doesn’t translate well to esports. However, with the ease of access to gaming reaching an exponentially larger number of players than traditional sports reaches viewers (basically, not everyone can throw a baseball, but 40% of earth’s population plays video games), focusing on a player-based model that encourages everyone to participate, rather than merely making them a viewer, can produce far greater emotional attachment to the sport resulting in more participation time, more monetization opportunities in general, and ultimately, as a result, more revenue. Simply put, viewers generate some revenue for the sport, but players can be worth much much more than viewers. In video games, every viewer is a potential player, so, let’s make them players!

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This is where Gamers Oasis will shine. We are developing technology that will allow players of all skill levels to compete and to know that they are engaging in fair competition. Basically, you could be a bad player, but know that you will only be competing against other bad players, giving you a real chance to win money. This is something that nobody else has seemed to be able to produce in a meaningful manner.  We have a way to do this and to ensure this fair play. When anyone can win, all will play.  When everyone is playing, the industry experiences exponential growth.

 

Looking toward the future, what do you see as the future of esports, more specifically in terms of regulatory frameworks and industry development?

One of the fundamental problems esports has had up until now is there is no universal set of guidelines. As I said before, I firmly believe that the government is not the answer.  

With our patent, one of the things we intend to do is to have all parties who are licensing the patent join us in setting up core guidelines for all games which feature our technology.  We see this as a sort of a start in creating that centralized entity which can help establish and enforce certain guidelines, keeping it as a consensus based entity composed of the major parties who are involved with us in these endeavors, a democratic approach of sorts, with us primarily facilitating the laying of the foundation.

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What kind of a relationship do you envision between the casino industry and the esports industry?

Casinos are all about entertainment, and esports bring a whole new level of that to their customers. The possibilities are exciting in that whole new esport-themed experiences can be hosted within casinos. And as casinos seek to diversify their offerings to attract younger demographics, esports present a lucrative opportunity for engagement and revenue generation through esports betting and tournaments themselves. 

I think that third-party betting should be separated from any true esports platform. A true esports platform should only have the player paying their entry fees and should not involve third parties wagering on the outcome when they are not actually involved in the competition.  

This is where the casino industry comes in. The casinos can be a distinct and separate entity to facilitate those kinds of transactions, keeping them wholly separated from the platforms featuring esports. 

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One of the major reasons for this separation is age requirements. A true esports platform should allow kids (with parental permission) to be allowed to compete just as they do in real life. However, I feel very strongly that wagering on anything as a non-participant should have some restrictions, as it has the means to cause harm to younger, developing minds. By separating the two, we can keep the competition platforms “kid friendly” while still serving the needs of the audience that seeks the other service.

 

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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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