Lots of different kinds of gambling firms want to get in to the Latin American market, but each face their own unique challenges. One particularly lucrative market for the football-mad continent is sportsbook, so on the sidelines of the SBC Digital Summit Latin America conference, our Becky Liggero Fontana spoke with Domenico Mazzola, Commercial Director for Altenar, who has very relevant experience on the subject.
Mazzola began by explaining exactly what it is his company does. “Altenar is providing a fully managed sportsbook solution in different countries, but we are focused on Europe and South America,” he said. “If you ask me about South America, I would name just a couple of operators that we have there, which one of them is probably, if not the biggest, second largest in Colombia, Wplay.co that is using our sportsbook. We have an operation, Playdoit.mx in Mexico. We do have already a couple of operations as well in Peru, Nicaragua, soon we will launch another one in Ecuador, we have a project running in Jamaica, and we do have some traffic as well through some partners in Brazil and other South American countries.”
While LATAM mostly shares the same language, localization is still very important. “It’s a really tough challenge for a sportsbook provider to manage to adopt its solution to different countries because, you know, most of the people believe that when you discuss about LATAM, they have indeed in their mind about only one region, or even one country sometimes,” Mazzola said. “But unfortunately, or fortunately, it’s not like that because you have people speak in different languages, because if you compare Colombians with the Brazilians, they speak a different language, and then you have, let’s say people having different behaviors, having different approaches to the business, so it is really a nice challenge to have with the possibility to, let’s say adapt your solution to all their requirements, all their needs. And we managed, I would say pretty well because we had and we still have now the size to support tier 1 operators, and on the other side, having the flexibility to adapt and to adjust our solution to what is required in terms of sportsbook offering, in terms of sports product, to a specific region. And I will add on top of that, if you allow me to do so, that it’s not only about the market, it’s about a specific need of a specific operator, because you can have different operators in the same region and they can have different requirements, because maybe one is more focused on the online operation rather than having another one that is more focused on the land-based operation.”
When looking at the LATAM market, newcomers quickly begin to understand that collaboration is much more important than competition. “One of the key points related to South America is trust,” Mazzola said. “Trust is the key. You make business with South American business partners if they trust you. And I will also add from time to time, product is on the second level. If they trust you, everything will would be okay, and then of course you have to deliver, but if you deliver and they trust you, is the perfect marriage. So when it comes to that point, in my opinion there are few suppliers in the market that can reach that level.”
Much like other developing markets, establishing relationships with local partners is still a must in LATAM. “If we compare LATAM region, in general South American market to Europe, it’s clear to everybody that it’s a market that is mostly focused on retail,” Mazzola explained. “Of course the online is moving on, of course the online is progressing, there are more and more online payment methods available, but the core of the business, especially in countries like Colombia, are mostly focused on retail. So who controls the network, who controls the streets, controls the market, and this is the key point. Second point is it is not so easy for a foreigner operators to come to another country with no foot on the ground and to manage to move the money out of that country. Because there are additional taxes, there are problems in terms of banks giving troubles.”
Liggero Fontana ended the conversation asking for what Mazzola’s most crucial advice would be for new comers to the region. “Let’s start with the operator, in general what is important?” he began. “It’s important to find the right supplier that has the right size, is not a start-up, because if it’s a start-up maybe you can face some troubles in supporting the business, that is not, let’s say so corporate or involved in B2C operations so it’s keen, really keen, not only to listen because everybody can listen, but to execute and to deliver what is necessary to help you.”
Finally, he added: “For the suppliers, localization is the key, and the attitude and the ability to listen to what your, not customers, business partners will require.”
Watch the whole interview to see Mazzola expand on these points, and discuss in further detail the relationship between B2C and B2B firms, and how they must negotiate their deals. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the CalvinAyre.com YouTube channel to see every interview we make as it goes up.