GMB - Sun Dreams is one of the casino operators with more investments in Latin America. How important is the continent to the group's plans and how does Brazil fit into these projects?
Celina Guedes - Latin America has always been present in Sun’s plans. The first project outside the African continent was the casino we opened in Chile. We arrived in Chile in 2008 for being a country with a very stable, growing, economically strong nation with casino culture. And Chile was not only the first step in Latin America, but the beginning of great conquests and challenges in casinos and entertainment, and we learned a lot how to do business with Latin Americans in a completely different culture from South Africa. I think it opened many doors so we could grow and we did; after 6 years in Chile, in 2013 we opened a casino in Panama and in 2014 we opened another casino in Cartagena, Colombia. With the merger of Sun International and Dreams, today Sun Dreams is the biggest casino operator in Latin America and has much more to grow. There are opportunities in Argentina, Peru and obviously Brazil has always been a goal. We, like everyone else, are waiting for Brazil. For the economic power of the country, not only in the casinos, but also in shopping, employment, machine manufacturing, among others. We are waiting and we will see what can happen.
You had a meeting with Sergio Jardim, President Clarion Brazil to talk about BgC 2018. Will Sun Dreams be present at the event? How important is a congress like this today in Brazil?
We are thinking of being part of BGC 2018, seeing the possibilities of how we can participate for the simple fact that it brings tremendous help to all casino operators and controllers and to everyone involved with the industry like lawyers, businessmen, manufacturers. Just the fact that the congress gives opportunity to expose ideas, give information, which unfortunately is still missing much information on the casino industry in Brazil. I think the congress comes to facilitate the exposure of some professionals, to clarify many doubts about the casino industry. It's a very good communication tool that we can support. Last year I’ve been here and in 2018 I will definitely be back at BgC.
What is your assessment of the gaming legalization process in Brazil?
I honestly do not have a positive view on the subject. I think there is still a lot to be clarified, including the laws to support this business that still suffers from the stereotype of value inversion, money laundering. But having a congress, like BGC, supporting and clarifying doubts about the industry greatly facilitates acceptance.
How is Brazil's gaming market viewed internationally?
The Brazilian market internationally is seen as a potential market. I come monthly to do networking with clients in Brazil, mainly in São Paulo, searching for potential partners and showing our work. Brazil has always been and always will be in the plans of Sun Dreams not only as a market of potential players to other countries, but also to be part of a casino operation in the near future.
After the approval of a gaming law that brings casinos to the country, what is your perspective for the future Brazilian industry? Will it achieve significant results in a short time?
I think every country is different. It will depend on how the economy will grow, the entrance of casinos, the growth of casino mode and the sector as a whole. Based on the experience we had in Chile, the region where the casino was installed has become one of the richest and more developed precisely because of the taxes that the casino pays to the state. There's a lot going on. There are countries like Panama where laws change every 5 years and this has a big impact not only on operators but also on players, such as the implementation of a tax on punters that the Panamanian government has made. So the laws have to be very well defined, controlled, have security and auditing that give support to companies, especially here in Brazil that in terms of security and policy is a little more complicated. I think any company that will invest in any place will always give a boost to the country's economy, generate direct and indirect jobs. I hope that the future market in the country will be good for everyone.
Source: Exclusive GMB