Debate heats up as day 1 of SiGMA Americas Digital takes on regulatory landscape

SiGMA Americas premiered in 3 different languages, catering to viewers from across Latin America

A first for SiGMA, the opening day of SiGMA Americas kicked off with content in English, Portuguese, and Spanish. Hovering over the LatAm regions, speakers discussed the variety in cultures and traditions and how it will affect the localisation process  across the Latin American regulatory landscape.

The opening remarks of the summit addressed the current state of LatAm and the effects of the pandemic, from the hard hit on the local land-based casinos and bingos to the momentous rise in online gaming. Juan B Perez Hidalgo, President of Coljuegos EICE in Colombia, noted that apart from this the COVID-19 situation,

there is a significant growth in the number of operators in the last four years".

He then ended by going through the reactivation of the sector, the management developments, and stating some recent updates on the process.   

In the first panel of the day, lawyer at 
Asensi Abogados Juan Camilo Carrasco said that when it comes to Colombia, since gambling regulations had already been set up 2001, the method of implementation was to adopt the methods of Europe and assemble them within the limits of Columbian legislationDavid Plumi of Betson on the other hand mentioned the important point of gradually changing the perception of gaming to entertainment rather than gambling.  

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Moving on, next was Brazil and the market’s potential to save the country from its financial crisis. Addressing the current state of the regulatory framework, the panel brought up the point that gambling had been banned for 70 years, and it was only recently that there have been some advances made in legislation.  Witoldo Hendrich Junior of Hendrich Advogaos firm, added that another attractive aspect for the introduction of gambling is also the fact that tourism is a big sector that could be affected by the change in legislation, and along with that it will also create the need for a lot of different jobs, therefore reducing unemployment. When asked  about his opinion on the legalisation in Brazil he said

my bet, my guess, is the second half of next year. I think we are going to have something concrete."

With regards to Panama, the online gaming world became a reality in March of this year and so this panel started by addressing what makes Panama interesting for investors, some of the reasons being the legal security, the dollar, the excellent geographical location, the gambling culture and the fact the Panama has one of the highest minimum wages in Latin America.  MoreoverChairman of the Panamanian Game Control Board Manuel Sanchez Ortega emphasized that Panama is looking for quality not quantity when it comes to operators 

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Midway through the day, Argentina was the topic of conversation, and one of the issues here was the fact that the 24 provinces of the country are autonomous when it comes to regulation of the industry. Sebastian Vivot, Manager of Modernization and Information at Loteria pointed out that the differences in constitutions and regulations is the core of the problem.  He continued to say that what the regulators at Buenos Aires are trying to do at the moment is "invite other provinces to adopt our regulatory framework" to have consistency in the regulations across the country, and also to attract operators, especially since some provinces are relatively poor and so complications in regulations would only hinder the chances of operators settling in them. 

The summit moved on to addressing Chile where the country’s economic stabilityrelatively high minimum wage, and a technological coverage, were introductory points of the panel.  On the other hand, Cristina Romero of Loyra highlighted the level of opportunity for both parties involved, the operators and investors, and the country’s economy., saying

It is an economic opportunity and more in a context of pandemic where it is necessary to revitalize the economy and obtain tax revenues."

Mexico was next on the list, and the issue here was whether gambling can find its way into the country via offshore operators.  Marketing manager and journalist Enrique Romero gave his viewpoint on the matter saying that the situation is allegorical to soccer, saying that just a big budget team can have large salaries coming from foreign investments, in Mexico the markets have also had some help from foreign investors and this gives them the opportunity to make use of pre-tested methods.  

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Following Mexico, came Peru, where the topic of digital evolution sparking the conversation. Gonzalo Perez of Apuesta Total said that the lack of sports in this year made people turn to other sports that were available. The issue that was then brought up was the political atmosphere of the country and how it will definitely delay regulations and create complications, and so people need to act according to the development of the times. Ending on a positive note, the panelists addressed the rise of what they consider to be the future of gaming; e-sport.  

Addressing the more general aspect of LatAm, rather than the specific countries, the problem that arose in the penultimate panel was the fact that even though most countries can speak Spanish or Portuguese, there are still dialectical variations within those two languages, and that this barrier creates trust issues with the client. Betcris’ Head of Business Development Fernando Garita complemented these points as he said that operators moving to LatAm need to “go global, think global, but act local”. Naturally, the pandemic was also addressed but to some extent only in good light, since to LatAm it has only accelerated the process of shifting from land-based to online simply because of this year’s circumstances. 

Go global, think global, but act local." 

To conclude the first daya partner from Loyra Abodagos Christina Romero gave a quick recap of the progress of some LatAm countries with regards to regulationre-emphasizing the importance of having a different, tailor-made approach for every country, bringing us back to some recurring focus points of the summit. The closing statement focused on the local partners and the importance of making sure that there are strong relationships with them in initiating the shift to LatAm 

About SiGMA Europe - Malta

SiGMA Group has announced the postponement of its Europe summit, which was planned to be held in Malta on 17-19 November 2020. The show will now open its doors early next year in February, running from the 16-18th, making it the first event to headline the 2021 gaming calendar.

 

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