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Interviews

Scoring Big: Evoplay’s Football Pack Reaches New Heights in the LatAm iGaming Arena

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Scoring Big: Evoplay’s Football Pack Reaches New Heights in the LatAm iGaming Arena

 

Kickstarting Evoplay’s success in the Latin American market has been its Football Pack, with recent releases Penalty Shoot-out and Football Bet achieving considerable success. We caught up with Chief Commercial Officer Vladimir Malakchi to talk about the playbook behind this strategy, why the games resonated with LatAm audiences, their current and future plans for the region and the future of iGaming innovation.

 

Evoplay’s had some exciting news recently when it comes to your latest Football Pack instant games – can you tell us about the launches and the demand you’re seeing from LatAm players?

We’ve been thrilled with the recent response to our Football Pack. Evoplay strives in offering exciting and engaging games that resonate with players, and it’s evident that our latest launch has struck a chord with the Latin American market.

In total, the Football Pack includes three unique games: Penalty Shoot-out, Penalty Series and Football Bet. Each of these instant games offers a different aspect of the beloved game, whether that be playing for their chosen country or experiencing the thrill of a penalty shootout. We’ve designed these games to be accessible and engaging even for players new to iGaming, while also having enough suspense and anticipation to keep gaming veterans excited!

Of course, there’s a natural passion for football in Latin America, and we’ve successfully managed to tap into this sentiment with our now very-well known football series of launches. Both players and partners have been incredibly receptive to how we’ve combined the quick pace of instant games with the excitement of the beautiful game. The early numbers have surpassed our initial expectations, reaching bet sum of over 120% and GGR of over 110% in the first 3 weeks of the pack’s release.

 

Given Evoplay is fast-becoming one of the most exciting European studios on the LatAm market – what do you believe has driven this success?

Our success in the Latin American market is down  to our strategic decisions and dedicated team effort. Key factors include our understanding of local culture and player preferences as well as adapting game themes, mechanics, and visuals to the region’s taste. As mentioned previously, the launch of our Football Pack was a significant move, tapping into the LatAm’s cultural passion for football in a way no other studio has done so comprehensively.

We’ve also focused on mobile optimisation, recognising the region’s high smartphone penetration rate, with this trend looking to continue climbing in the coming years. Adoption rates have been simply phenomenal in LatAm, and you’re now looking at a level of use that still has plenty of exponential growth to be had.

Last but not least we’ve fostered strong partnerships with local entities, increasing our market presence and promoting our products effectively while providing personalised customer service. This success stems from our local expertise, the development of relevant high-quality products, and the building of meaningful relationships with our platform partners and operators.

 

Your recent partnership announcement with Sportingtech saw plenty of attention – can you tell us about your plans for the market together?

We’re incredibly excited about our partnership with Sportingtech. Being a well-respected platform provider with a huge network, particularly in Latin America, allows us to tap into new markets and bring our games to an even wider audience.

Our initial plan is to integrate our sports-themed portfolio of instant games onto Sportingtech’s platform, such as Penalty Shoot-out, as well as our Brazilian Carnival-themed slot Hot Rio Nights, which have both proved a hit with local players. By combining our powers, I believe we can make a significant impact in the market. It’s a partnership that I´m confident will benefit both companies, but more importantly, one that will deliver exciting gaming experiences to players.

 

Looking ahead, and with new markets coming online – where does Evoplay see the most potential in LatAm right now for slot studios?

Looking at the evolving landscape in Latin America, we see immense potential across the region. New markets are rapidly emerging as regulation evolves and technology continues to advance, which is creating new opportunities for companies like ours.

Brazil stands out as a key growth area. As the largest country in LatAm, it has a vast player base, and the recent move towards regulation opens exciting opportunities. With over 210 million people and a strong passion for games, Brazil holds immense potential for slot studios. Secondly, Mexico has great opportunity too – with the second strongest economy in Latin America, a population of over 120 million and a mobile penetration rate of around 60%, the market presents a window of opportunity for the industry.

Other markets showing favourable conditions include Argentina, thanks to its mature gaming market and recent steps towards online gambling regulation. It has an established gambling culture and a solid digital infrastructure, making it an appealing target market for growth.

Our approach will remain focused on understanding the specific needs and preferences of these markets and using this information to deliver high-quality and innovative games that resonate with local players.

 

Last but not least – given your pioneering work in the next-gen slots space, what’s your vision for the future when it comes to gaming trends?

There is an exciting future for slots on the horizon, shaped by a number of key trends. In particular, the shift towards mobile gaming will intensify, leveraged by increased smartphone usage and 5G networks. Evoplay plans on being at the forefront of this, providing engaging experiences anywhere and across all devices.

I also foresee a rise in the use of VR and AR for immersive gaming, and an increased focus on personalisation, tailoring aesthetics and storylines by using data and machine learning.

This will see an emphasis on gamification tools that offer a bigger variety of ways for players to win and interact with games. Elements like levels, quests and achievements will become more prominent, to appeal to a wider audience and make online slots a competitive entertainment form, not just gambling.

Of course – Evoplay’s commitment is to pioneer this future, creating innovative games that captivate and redefine online slots. I’m incredibly proud of how far we’ve come as a team and we’re very excited to keep making our mark over the next few years!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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?

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.

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.

 

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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Compliance Updates

Reputation matters – the importance of supplier licensing

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Reputation matters – the importance of supplier licensing

 

More and more jurisdictions are introducing licensing for B2B providers in an attempt to boost regulatory oversight and restrict black market activity with Sweden and Denmark recent examples. In this piece, we talk to Greg Ponesse, Chief Revenue Officer at Compliable, about how the increased compliance burden can favour suppliers’ standing in the iGaming ecosystem.

 

Have you seen a shift in attitudes from suppliers to only provide products in regulated markets?

We have seen that suppliers that have traditionally taken a .com approach are starting to move towards being licensed to secure additional revenue and more customers but also to improve their overall reputation and standing. The perception of brand integrity plays a big part of the decision-making process because some operator partners might be reluctant to work with suppliers if they have a mainly grey-market approach.

In the US, supplier licensing has always been the norm, so where we are seeing attitudes changing is primarily with European suppliers. Although most suppliers might have a few licenses that they need to manage in key markets, they are now better understanding the importance of being seen as fully compliant across the board as regulation changes and operators are looking for trusted partners.

Some of these brands are massive enterprises who are now trying to get a handle on how to manage all their licenses across multiple regions, and we have seen an increased interest in our software to support that.

 

What has been the driving force for this – regulator pressure or business strategy?

It’s a little bit of both. Regulator pressure is definitely a big one as gambling becomes more ubiquitous and mainstream. It’s the responsibility of the government to provide structure and regulation to ensure safety for consumers and many are starting to realize that suppliers play an equally important role in that as operators. We have recently seen examples of locally licensed suppliers being fined by regulators for offering their products to unlicensed operators, so providers need to be on the ball to ensure their reputation stays intact.

That said, the grey market suppliers up to this point have stayed in grey markets because that’s what was available to them. Now you’re seeing new markets opening up like North America, which has been huge, where all states require suppliers to be licensed. These grey market players that have previously focused on Europe now see that there’s revenue over there to be gained, so they need to pull up their socks and play the game.

As a business strategy, suppliers can only remain in black markets for so long, avoiding paying taxes and declaring revenue. In a competitive marketplace, suppliers can definitely benefit from being more established and having numerous licenses. Operators might be wary to work with companies that don’t take compliance seriously so being able to show that you have X number of licenses and that you have infrastructure in place shows that you’re serious, and that you know what you’re doing. It kind of sets the table for you to have a soft landing and to be able to begin those discussions with potential partners.

 

A sole focus on regulated markets would suggest a negative impact on profits so what benefits do suppliers see from being licensed?

If the train is only going in one direction, you eventually have to hop on it. Moving away from grey markets will inevitably have a negative impact on profits but you then have to look at where you can find additional revenue. If you are a licensed supplier, it does allow you to work with the big local operators. You have to decide on whether you can make more money as a grey-market supplier or by going into markets being licensed and making the most of what that offers.

 

Do you expect more jurisdictions will introduce B2B licensing going forward?

Yes, for sure. Gambling is ubiquitous now and governments recognise that it’s a great revenue generator for them and it also helps with ensuring responsible gambling. With licensing, you provide a framework, infrastructure, and environment that is safe, and it ensures that everyone is on a level playing field. That needs to include all different sides of the industry such as operators, suppliers, affiliates etc. If everyone in the ecosystem follows the rules, it will be a better place for all.

 

What are the big challenges that suppliers face when it comes to licensing in 2024 and beyond?

Your licensing strategy, so basically, where you are going to go get licensed. This process takes time and resources, and you want to make sure you are prepared before you start talking with operators. They will want to know, just like as with any other vendor, if you are licensed as a supplier.

If we use the US as an example, there is no shortage of suppliers that want to partner with the available operators, so you need to know who you want to work with and where, and then you have to make sure you sort those applications properly. That is all about getting the right advice or using software because if you fail the process, you will end up at the back of the queue and your go-to market strategy will be delayed.

 

What, if any, are the key differences between licensing in the US and regulated markets in Europe and other regions around the world?

For starters, every state in the US acts as if it is its own country and the licensing process is very complex and rigorous. In Europe, it was initially somewhat more relaxed. You got your Malta licence, and that was then good for all countries in Europe. We’re now seeing a bit of backtracking, with more and more countries getting tougher on rules and regulation.

Increased supervision, with regulators having more oversight, means there is no hiding and I think that is what we’re moving towards on a global scale.

I do believe that most suppliers and operators prefer a regulated market because it separates proper companies from the bad ones. If I was a large operator or supplier that invested time and money into licensing and establishing a compliance team, I would feel good about that because there are so many companies that can’t do it. There’s this element of pay to play, so to speak, in order to really maximize your profits in a region.

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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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