SBC Summit Latinoamerica: Shifting to an omnichannel model is paying off for some Latin American operators

November 1, 2023 9:05 PM
Photo: “Bridging Land-Based With Online - the Omnichannel Model” panel at SBC Summit Latinoamerica 2023.
  • Scott Long, CDC Gaming Reports
November 1, 2023 9:05 PM
  • Scott Long, CDC Gaming Reports

Reaching players in the omnichannel, getting them to support a brand in-person and digitally, has intriguing potential, but there are definitely challenges to overcome.

That’s what the industry leaders who made up the panel for the “Bridging Land-Based With Online — the Omnichannel Model” session said at the SBC Summit Latinoamerica at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

“This isn’t only a change of strategy. This is a complete mindset shift,” said Lourdes Britto, director general of Apuesta Total.

A number of primarily land-based operators in Latin America found themselves almost forced to explore omnichannel opportunities during the pandemic, when their land-based gaming locations were shut down.

“Our numbers of online users tripled,” Fernando Ortega, CEO of Lottofy, said of the COVID lockdown.

“Seeking omnichannel is something we all want, but it’s complicated. We were 80 percent retail and 20 percent online,” said David Lopez Alarcon, chief technology officer of Grupo Orenes. “The opportunity here is an issue of technology. When we talk about omnichannel, we’re talking about being able to offer new things to our customers.”

Despite being forced into the experiment because of COVID, operators had trepidation.

“We had a website, but we focused on retail prior to the pandemic,” Britto said. “We were worried about cannibalization from our retail business, but that didn’t happen. Now our digital is growing at very high rates and it isn’t experiencing cannibalization from our retail locations.”

Generational preference is one of the challenges operators are still feeling out, the panel agreed, with older players feeling comfortable in a land-based environment and tentative about trying an online product, while younger players are the opposite. Some, though, have been more willing to take a chance on both.

“It’s so important that we have a connection between the two divisions, because we see people taking both paths,” said Pedro Extremera, regional director of Latam & Iberia for Playtech.

Being conscientious of the two is important, panel members said.

“We were able to say,”Llet’s try new things in retail,’” Lopez Alarcon said. “We could conduct very specific tests with very specific people. Content is very important and varies from even town to town. Being able to have regional content is fundamental. That’s more complicated to do online. If something works online, we try it land-based as well.”

“We decided to experiment with the middle ground,” Britto said of how to give land-based players an experience online that matches their live experience as closely as possible. “Most of the things we did were via chats (with players), but sometimes we had to make phone calls when things were more complex.”

Once players started to embrace it, she said, she saw her Peruvian players use the online product when they’re off at the mines, for example, then return to the land-based product when back home.

Technology is a challenge as well.

“In Spain, everyone has a credit card. In Latin America, that’s not the case,” Ortega said. “We needed to offer different payment opportunities (for players who wanted to play online). That was difficult for us, because we didn’t come from a world like that. Payment is a problem. Many users don’t get to play if they don’t have a credit card. It’s quite a challenge to make a payment online.”

How should operators make the change to an omnichannel experience?

“When you think about omnichannel, bettors aren’t looking for the same experience online as in retail,” Britto said. “They’re looking for the same service level, but not the same experience.”

“Live limitation and digital limitation don’t align,” Extremera said, cautioning that regulators have been slow to recognize that. “Regulation isn’t aligned with technology. “

But in the end, omnichannel is a change that is paying off.

“The value of the player increased 2.5 times when you were an omnichannel user vs. exclusively a digital player,” Extremera said.