Juegos Miami: Why LATAM retail giants can’t afford to ignore social casino

Juegos Miami: Why LATAM retail giants can’t afford to ignore social casino

Friday, March 4, 2016 Totally Gaming
Vicens Marti said that land-based operators will only benefit by moving into the social sector

Land-based gambling operators in Latin America are continuing to miss out on a $5bn (€4.6bn) jackpot as they fail to embrace the thriving social casino market.

That is the view of Vicens Marti, president of social casino giant Imperus and chief executive of subsidiary Akamon Entertainment, one of the largest social operators in the region, who will be a keynote speaker at this year’s Juegos Miami, an event focused on the Latin American and Caribbean gambling sector.

Marti told TotallyGaming.com that a move into social gaming can actually benefit land-based operators’ existing operations, while the growth of smartphone use in major markets such as Brazil and Mexico means that digital growth could be astronomical in the coming years.

“We are all waiting for the land-based guys to wake up and get into the game,” said Marti, who founded Akamon in 2011 and guided it through its $25m purchase by Imperus last year. “It’s baffling to me that they have not made their move.

“In the US you see that equipment manufacturers have made very successful acquisitions in social casino, and even some of the casinos and racetracks, such as Churchill Downs, have also moved into the sector.

“In Latin America all the big guys in land-based gaming are non existent. Of course, they have their problems with regulation and one of the major players, Codere, has been restructuring, but the potential is huge.”

Marti will lead a session entitled ‘Social, casual and freemium gaming – the opportunity for casinos in Latin America’ at Juegos Miami, and is clear that the positives far outweigh the costs of entering the market, which are lower in any case than the figures that might be quoted in more established regions.

With social casino gaming in Latin America growing much faster than Europe and North America thanks to improved technology and greater smartphone penetration, Marti also dismisses any notion that the sector could be negatively affected by the legalisation of real money gaming in Brazil and other major markets.

“The first thing I would say to a land-based operator is that the social casino is worth $5bn globally and $250-350m in Latin America, and it is growing,” he said. “They don’t need a licence, and it will be complimentary to their existing offering. Fourthly, it’s a very good proxy of a CRM and loyalty programme – whatever players do on an app leaves a trail, so you have great data.

“Real-money gaming will not affect the growth of social casino. In Spain, real money bingo has been regulated for the last five years, but Akamon’s biggest game in that market is social bingo.

“The online real-money guy has a different profile to the social user. The social user is similar to the land-based player, in that primarily they are looking for entertainment. The real-money online gamer is different, he is looking for thrill and expectation of a big prize.”

Juegos Miami, operated by ICE Totally Gaming organiser Clarion Events, is focused on the Latin American and Caribbean markets, and will feature all the latest information on legislative and operational developments in the region’s major markets. Juegos Miami’s learning programme will offer debate concerning investment and innovation, regulation and anti-money laundering, with the event also offering fabulous opportunities for networking in the US’s Sunshine State.

Marti, whose company has had discussions with land-based operators about potential joint ventures, added: “I think social casino will be a fringe topic in Miami, but I hope that people will see the opportunities. 

“We founded Akamon as we believed in the potential of Latin America, and that was our region of expertise, along with southern Europe. We certainly believe in the market and are going to bet everything on Latin America, promoting our mobile-first strategy.”

- Juegos Miami takes place at The Biltmore, Coral Gables from May 31 to June 3. For more information visit www.juegosmiami.com. To apply for your invitation* visit www.juegosmiami.com and to find out more, follow @JuegosMiami on Twitter and visit the event’s Facebook page for further information and the latest updates.

* Attendance at Juegos Miami will be limited to senior decision makers (owner, director, C-Level exec) from operating companies (private and public including state lotteries), government and regulators from the Latin America and Caribbean region.

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