An Interview with Diogo Almeida, Sales Director for IBERIA & LATAM
When did you join IMG ARENA?
I joined IMG ARENA, back then IMG Gaming, in March 2017. It feels like a lot longer as so much has happened in that time.
What is your role at IMG ARENA?
As Sales Director for Iberia (Spain and Portugal) & LATAM, my role at IMG ARENAis to head up all commercial conversations we have in both regions, from creating the business development strategy to implementing and executing against it.
Favourite Industry Event?
I should probably honour one from one of my regions and say Juegos Miami, however, I just cannot avoid saying - ICE. Thousands of people coming from all over the world for meetings and seminars. The craziness of having dozens of meetings every day (and night) for three days, all made perfect by our great marketing team who puts a great show year after year.
What do you think makes the LATAM market unique?
The (still) relatively unexplored potential of the market makes it unique. Even though there are already huge local and international companies operating very successfully in Latin America, the recent changes in legislation that empower customers and make it safer for them to bet had an extremely positive impact on sales, with numbers going through the roof year after year. Therefore, the best is yet to come, despite the current challenges brought by COVID 19.
With new regulations coming into new markets, how do you think operators can differentiate themselves?
I believe the key is to not underestimate or pre-judge their customers in terms of how they like to place their bets. For example, when starting a meeting with an operator in LATAM it is not uncommon to hear that “all our customers care about is Football and they do not care about “complex” live markets”. Whist they are saying that their main competitor might be delivering double-digit growth with customers betting on sports and markets that are not prioritized, promoted and sometimes even offered by the original operator.
As people commonly say, “if you build, they will come”, and this turns out to be particularly true to operators when they invest in new innovative betting products in emerging markets.
How popular are virtual sports in the region?
In Spain, it is growing exponentially after the recent change in the interpretation by the DGOJ which authorized operators to go live with Virtual Sports. Portugal, unfortunately, still needs to pass legislation that will make Virtual Sports legal within the market.
When it comes to Latin America, it changes significantly in each country, in Peru, for example, there is an established culture of betting on Virtual Sports within betting shops. In the rest of the region, the demand is growing, with Colombia recently changing legislation, and a greater interest from punters as a result of the lack of live sports caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
What has been the biggest game-changer for sports betting in the last ten years?
Most definitely the “opening” of the Industry in extremely important markets all over the world (USA, Spain, Portugal, Colombia), which is not only driving the global GGR, but is changing the way our society sees betting and betting operators. The NBA signing multiple betting partnerships in the US, Draftkings having a successful IPO on the NASDAQ, Colombia raising millions for its health system through their Gambling tax, were all unthinkable achievements 10 years ago. The re-regulation and opening of markets has elevated the betting Industry to a whole new level.
How do you see our Event Centres products appealing to players within the region?
Every time operators invest in innovative and sophisticated products customers respond extremely well, generating a terrific ROI for those who have the boldness to be early adopters.
The experience of placing a bet within the Event Centre changes the focus to be on the sport and the fan. It empowers the customers by giving them more information (written and visual) to inform their betting choices; and of course, many more markets to bet on. This is made possible by official data and cutting-edge technology. I am proud of the quality of products we offer to our customers. They will change the way fans engage with sports and betting by offering a more immersive and engaging experience.
Do you think live streaming is an essential fan engagement tool for your operators?
Sports betting is entertainment. In my view, fans will always prefer to place their bets while watching live events. It is important that operators offer a live stream in the same space where they can place their bets to ensure customers are retained within their eco-system and engaged throughout the game or match.
Live Streaming also presents an opportunity to engage customers with sports and leagues that they potentially would not be interested and engaging with if there was not a live video coverage available for that event. After all, it is not a coincidence that we have all recently learned the names of a few players from the Belarusian League, right?
As IMG ARENA launch brand new sports to the market, such as UFC, what has the reaction been from the region?
Unbelievable, to be honest. It has just made it even clearer that when you combine top-quality technology and official content, the sky is the limit.
UFC is already huge in Latin America’s biggest economies (Brazil and Mexico) and is growing exponentially in the whole region. Operators are thrilled to see a product that they believe will help them unlock all the potential the UFC has as betting sport.
What do you envisage as being the biggest challenge to the market as they recover from Covid-19?
The fine line between investing in products and technology and at the same time being cautious not to overextend themselves. The market will most definitely reward those who can and are willing to invest in a moment of crisis; however, it is only natural that not all companies will be able to do so, at least in the short term.
We have recently signed a deal with BetCRIS for virtuals. Can you give us any more details and the importance of this deal?
Absolutely. Only 5 months after signing a landmark deal to access all our multi-sports Live Streaming solution and our official Fastpath Data, BetCRIS chose IMG ARENA to become the only provider who would integrate their virtual sports solution directly into their platform.
For me, the partnership cements their commitment to their customers. They value quality and customer experience. It was also a true milestone for IMG ARENA’s presence in the Latin American market. The only way is up!
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