An Interview With:
Victor Arias, Vice President of LATAM, Pragmatic Play
EI Industry News talks exclusively to the recently appointed VP of LatAm, Victor Arias of PRAGMATIC PLAY, about the future trends of the online gambling industry in Latin America. We talked to Victor from Eventus International’s office in Cape Town, South Africa.
Pragmatic Play is a leading content provider to the iGaming industry. Pragmatic Play offers a multi-product portfolio of innovative, regulated and mobile-focused gaming products, including 200+ HTML5 slots, Live Casino products, Bingo & more, all via one single API.
EI: First and foremost, congratulations on your recent appointment as VP of Pragmatic Play. To begin with, how did you get started in the industry and can you tell us about your journey to your current position?
To start, I would like to thank Eventus International for the coverage and opportunity. I remember well when we first met in South Africa two years ago during one of your events. It is a real pleasure to talk to you and share more about my journey and this new project which consists of introducing and developing the Latin American region for the prestigious technology company, Pragmatic Play.
I recall a very good friend saying, “Love what you do, do what you love”; that’s exactly what happens between me and the Gaming Industry. I fell in love with it from the start. I enjoy every challenge, every adventure, every lesson learned and am always thankful for the great friends made and for an amazing journey which today I call my career.
My first career steps back in 1998 were in Costa Rica, huge call centres with dozens of representatives taking bets for customers over the phone. Saturdays and Sundays were amazing, you really have to feel the adrenaline generated by excited bettors placing their bets minutes before the football game starts - that’s where my passion began.
The years passed and I decided to explore other markets, jurisdictions and of course other companies. I had the privilege of working for well-known brands performing different roles in both the B2C and B2B sectors.
The last 10 years I have focused on learning and conquering the different cultures in the Latin American region. I had the chance to live in different countries across the continent and shared experiences which provided me with a solid background and a wide network, key in factors for both Pragmatic Play and myself, which led to me heading the “Latam Hub”. Our locally based team aims to lead the market with our full portfolio of products.
EI: Online gambling is starting to gain popularity in certain parts of Latin America and will continue to evolve over the next few years. What other products do you believe are the game changers for the Latin American gambling market in 2019/2020 and how do you suggest to foster further growth?
Actually, it is not just starting, it is growing and expanding rapidly. The amount of companies operating and exploring the market is increasing every day, both local and international investors are betting heavily in Latin America and the statistics are promising exponential growth.
Now, the secret to success is to determinate the target markets and to apply localisation to your technology platform, based on your market strategy. You cannot take Latin America as a whole market - every country, culture and economy is different and demands special treatment.
About products and verticals, sports betting has a big portion of the market but slots, live casino games and bingo are key and are showing an important increase in market acceptance. This results in volumes which force the operator to have a diversified menu with different options, of course not leaving behind quality offering and great user experience - exactly what describes Pragmatic Play.
Virtual sports and eSports are also gaining territory but will take some more time to become part of the winning formula.
EI: What advice would you share with those who are interested in entering the Latin American market and what are the key considerations for successful partnerships?
As commented previously, it is a beautiful market going through a maturity process and constantly growing but with big challenges.
Localisation, adaptation and flexibility are musts. A local partner will be ideal and understanding that a return of investment could take longer compared to other markets.
EI: What are some of the biggest challenges facing the gambling sector in Latin America in terms of legislation and regulation at the moment?
The first step taken by Colombia really marked and confirmed to the world and to the rest of the jurisdictions within the region, that regulations are healthy and beneficial for both the users and the local governments.
We now have the City of Buenos Aires and Panama pushing their online gaming regulation frames and others aiming to launch, such as Brazil and Peru. At this point, in my opinion, only time will tell. This comes with a special requirement for us as content and technology providers: perform certifications based on each legislation’s requirements.
Challenges? I think I already mentioned the greatest ones in a previous question.
EI: What do you think the gambling industry in Latin America will look like in five years?
It is a very hard question to answer but I will tell you what I would like to see instead of what I think will happen.
I would like to see healthy regulations for all the parties - the user, the operator and content providers, providing security and helping improve players’ trust in electronic processes in order for them to perform their transactions and enjoy entertainment from anywhere in the region within a safe and responsible environment.
I would like to see the different entities within the local governments benefit from rational taxing structures and helping businesses grow - and operators investing in having the best user experience, best technologies and wide content diversity showing the best games for all tastes.