Exclusive Q&A with Sebastian Damian, Commercial Director at Booongo

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Slots developer Booongo is gathering momentum across Latin America following a flurry of commercial deals, with its games now live with multiple operators across one of the industry’s fast expanding regions. We sat down with the company’s Commercial Director, Sebastian Damian, where he outlines Booongo’s ambitions in Latin America and why the market is ripe for further growth.

Gaming Americas: Booongo recently announced a commercial agreement in Latin America with Rivalo. Is the region a key focus of growth for you?

Sebastian Damian (SD): Latin America is one of the most exciting regions in the igaming industry at present, with many countries embracing legalised gambling and attracting an influx of new players. While some European countries are facing further challenges with regulatory tightening and uncertainty, Latin America is just beginning its ascent into becoming one of the most important regions in the world for online gaming.

We have a strategy which targets markets which ally to our attitudes towards innovation and growth, something which Latin America offers us now, and we’ll continue to expand our presence within the jurisdiction over the coming months.

Gaming Americas: Following the shutdown of live sports, many operators expanded their casino offering to provide players with alternative betting opportunities. How can they look to retain converted sports bettors going forward?

SD: While it’s natural to expect some sports bettors to return to their preferred betting experiences, there’s no doubt that some will have enjoyed the alternative products that have been presented to them during this uncertain period. Plays in slots have certainly increased for all suppliers and we’re hopeful the quality of our games will have converted a few into becoming active users beyond the return of live sports.

There are classic cross-sell options aimed at retaining sports bettors, such as sport themed slots or instant-win variants that can be played in lull periods of live sport. Operators and suppliers are becoming increasingly more creative in finding ways to keep players engaged and providing fun features to ensure they have a reason to stay connected to other igaming verticals.

Supporting engagement tools are really key from a retention perspective. From network promotions, prize drops and advantageous rates, suppliers can work with operators to provide their customer base with a more immersive gaming experience. Not all acquired customers will stay as casino players, but inventive approaches can significantly improve the likelihood of retention.

Gaming Americas: One of the more recent Booongo titles is Aztec Sun. Is creating market-themed content vital for entering certain regions? How are your games performing in the LatAm market?

SD: It’s about finding the right balance when entering new markets. Operators want to work with you because of the quality of content you have at your disposal. Market-specific games are really important in grabbing the initial interest of local players, but it’s also favourable to offer them a mix of games too.

The most important thing when creating content is sticking to what makes your brand unique and exciting, and blending those qualities with themes or ideas which work will in the targeted markets.

In general, we have found our titles have performed well in Latin America and it’s a region we are very excited to continue to explore and grow in.

Gaming Americas: More and more countries in LatAm are considering or in the process of regulating. Is Latin America poised to be the next big igaming focal point?

SD: Latin America’s trajectory has caught the attention of many executives and are inevitably very excited about the market’s future. While Colombia is leading the regulatory charge, there are plenty of other nations looking to follow suit. Brazil has begun preliminary discussions about sports betting, so hopefully casino isn’t too far behind. Other nations have started the regulatory journey, so yes, there is significant potential in Latin America.

There is a long way to go for it to become as established as some of the major European regions or as hyped as the opening up of the United States, but it is definitely well-positioned to be the next big growth area over the next few years.

Gaming Americas: Coljuegos has widely been lauded as an example for how regulation should be approached. Do you agree and how has the framework allowed the market to thrive?

SD: Getting the regulatory approach right can be difficult and across the world on an almost daily basis we hear arguments as to whether regulatory frameworks should be stricter or more lenient. For us, it is about getting the right blend that ensures the market can grow while also benefiting the government through a sensible tax rate. Colombia’s model is a very positive example in a region where regulation isn’t widespread at the moment, so it offers hope for Latin America, and a guidepost for how to approach creating a framework.

Each nation will require a slightly unique approach, but Colombia can be the example to follow.

Gaming Americas: Booongo has launched a tournament series, Money Chase. How important are promotional tournaments in retaining and acquiring new customers?

SD: Promotional tournaments offer an exciting change of pace for players, while giving operators a tool they can use specifically for acquisition and retention. It allows players to be competitive with their friends, reward those who have impressive wins, and keep players engaged long after a traditional session may have ended.

Our new tournament series, which is part of our HYPE promo tools range, differs slightly to usual tournaments, which can often favour serious players willing to stake significant amounts in return for tournament wins. It’s currently being used in our network campaign Money Chase to great effect by offering prizes for a single biggest win, rather than a cumulative amount, which provides casual players with an opportunity to win and also more of an incentive to participate in the tournament.

For us it is rewarding to give something back to players and fans through exciting promotions, while also giving our operator partners a useful resource where they can continue to keep players immersed in thrilling game session. Tournaments can be fantastic tools as all stakeholders have a positive experience at the end of it.

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