GMB - How is this market today for Betcris?
Fernando Garita - In the beginning, like everything, it was not easy. From a social point of view, it was not used to products of this type. In many countries we have been part of the history of the gaming industry. We arrived in certain countries that had no idea what sports betting was. Later, the market opened in Central American countries, like Panama, and we made inroads in Ecuador. In fact, now the market is very different from the one we found 12 or 13 years ago.
At the beginning, I knocked on doors by nobody knew me, the company or what Betcris did. They wanted to know what product we offered. Today it is much easier. Just say that we are a sports betting company and people know it. About the market ... there are obvious differences before the pandemic and during it. Before the pandemic, there was a very interesting sustainable growth, excellent opening of countries in regulatory processes. We are super committed on the topic and it really is our focus right now: to get all the countries that are in regulation.
Regulation was not unrelated to Betcris. In 2007, a group of employees started the regulatory process in Malta, with the MGA - Malta Gaming Authority. So, we went through a process of self-regulation, because at that moment, if we started to analyze, Latin America did not formally require a license. But as a company, we wanted to give customers security. So, we went in search of self-regulation.
Was the suspension of the sport events and championships a big problem for you?
Of course, yes. I was talking to a colleague about the topic and yes, we were very affected since most of the European leagues, which are very popular in Latin America, were suspended and most of the alternative sports, too. Some leagues that remained, such as Belarus, Russia and Nicaragua, and also some other countries, were a huge help. And at this time new trends also appeared, such as table tennis or ping pong, as it is known in some countries.
How is your presence in Brazil? How do you see the Brazilian market?
Brazil, for all operators, is the most expected market. We want Brazil and we are very attentive, waiting for the regulatory issue to be resolved. We are mainly interested in going and getting a license. We had incursions, at the sponsorship level in the Brasileirão championship. We want to continue looking for this market. It is no secret that Brazil is at the center of attention for Latin operators and Europeans will also come. It is a huge market, with a lot of potential for the industry.
Do you have many customers from Brazil?
We have some in transition that are already being activated by networks and on our website. We see growth, but there is still missing effective growth. But I believe that definitely, as in all countries where we enter, when Betcris arrives, it establishes itself giving confidence and security to our customers. And if everything goes well, we will be in Brazil for many years.
How to win the customer in Brazil?
Definitely, the first phrase we hear when we start to work a little and visit Brazil, we have to speak “Brazilian” and not Portuguese. This is one of the things we have in mind and is very present at Betcris. We have to speak “Brazilian” and get to know our client. We are getting to know and understanding local tastes. Brazil is a very large country and the differences from one city to another are big. So, we must be very strategic, understand the Brazilian and become a Brazilian company to operate in the country. In each country we arrive, we adapt to it. We do not adapt the Brazilian customer to the Betcris brand. Betcris will adapt to the Brazilian customer. There will be a standard, our work system that is not new to us. We have already done this in Peru, Mexico and in all Central American countries, Panama and Ecuador. We are very convinced that we will gradually adapt to the market and offer what Brazilians like.
Do you already have an office in Brazil?
We are in the strategic process of installation and the whole corporate and strategic theme in São Paulo. But as I mentioned earlier, it starts there, but Brazil is very big, and we can install branches in several regions.
How do you see the regulatory process in Brazil? Are you ready to start?
We, operators, are ready. The regulatory process, I always say, must be very respectful. Personally, Fernando, I was very involved in other regulatory processes, following Colombia, Peru and Spain at the time. I believe that in regulatory matters Spain and Colombia are cases for daily study. You need to keep in mind, see how things happened and how things went. In Spain the project came out, settled and I left. In Colombia, strategic adaptations were implemented. This was very interesting and important in order to learn.
Colombia's regulatory process has given us a lot of knowledge, both from providers and governments. So, definitely, we respectfully hope that there will be “white smoke”, as we say, and that the gaming rules be applied. We want, like most operators, to have something formal. For us, a regulatory process gives the company and customers peace of mind, in addition to remaining on time. It is very interesting, and we hope it arrives soon. I know they are working hard, and it is not easy, as I have seen in other countries. It is not easy, but I trust that Brazil will have its process soon.
What's your message to Brazil?
The message ... As a company, as I said, what we want to offer is an entertainment offer from a formal firm in which everyone can be relaxed, playing safely, with friendly policies, an easy to use and access platform. We will tropicalize it as much as possible so that this market and our Brazilian customers feel like locals. So that they do not feel Betcris as a foreign company, but that they feel Betcris as a local firm. We manage a trend in the company that is global and that we follow a lot. It is the tendency that they call “glocal”: “glo”, for global, and “cal” for local.
We apply what we see and observe globally with a local focus. That is the message. Betcris will be a friendly and very open company. And I don't want to leave it out: when Betcris arrives in a country, it consumes local resources. That is, most teams in the countries are local. So, we will have Brazilians in our working group - and we already have some - and this is very important. As a company, we understand and give opportunities to the local people, who are the ones that know local tastes. There are very well-prepared people in Latin America. I always say and maintain that. This is the positive and confident message that we will have a Costa Rican Brazilian company working.
With what market are we going to find after the COVID-19 crisis?
The current market, with the transition of the pandemic, has changed a lot. Digitization and customers that turned to the online sector will be many. Additionally, they will order and consume new products. The Latin market, as I said, did not know much, but became involved with the theme and is now a consumer who requests and even demands to have a competitive product. All we, the companies that are working in this industry, mainly sports betting and aggregate products, such as online and virtual casino, have a great commitment to provide these new technologies and have our customers always at the forefront. Cycles are shorter in transition to trends. Previously, we can observe that social networks remained in trend for three, four, five years. Today, we are talking about a very short trend, of one or two years, and then another is coming. This accelerated movement is what we have to be equated with. This transition is a global trend. I believe that the market today involves regulation and a responsible provider, with many options for customers to play. Additionally, I believe that a regulatory framework will be very interesting for the region.
There is an important point that is also growing, and I always say that this goes hand in hand with the industry. It is the theme of "banking" or the digitization of banking in the country. This topic gives us a reflection of how much this country is consuming in digital services. And that goes a lot according to our online business. There are autonomous customers and, in the case of Betcris, for many years we have customers who are completely autonomous and that we have never seen in a store in a retail operation. They register online, recharge online and play online and, if they need to do something, they also do it online. So, the market is heading for this and retail will not be left behind. It will have to come back, as we are a social being and we like to see events and participate live. So, the transition will be very interesting, and I believe it is the behavior that grew during the pandemic, but with ways to go back to what it was. The trend towards digitization, more products, and more regulation.
Source: Exclusive Games Magazine Brasil