Having received regulatory approval by Colijuegos to become the first intentional firm to gain Colombia’s new online gambling licence, Gaming1 has bet big on the market launching new property Zamba.co
SBC speaks to Victor Araneda Gaming1 Latin America Director, on his firm’s ambitions and first stage realities for Zamba.co, a brand seeking to heat up Colombian betting and gaming.
SBC: Hi Victor, great to interview you. Can you detail to SBC readers Gaming1 launch of Colombian betting brand Zamba.co?
Victor Araneda: GAMING1 has kept a close eye on the Colombian market for a long time, and we have been preparing for this project since before the regulation was passed. Our first priority was finding the right partner, and we have found the perfect match in Vicca Group. We chose the Zamba brand, part of their current stable of casinos and the name of their expansion project, as we thought it projected a strong and exciting message, with a similarly impressive convergence aspect to that of our Belgian operation, Circus.
SBC: From an international stakeholder perspective, why has Colombia been labelled as a ‘guiding light’ for the South American market?
VA: Colombia is the first market in Latin America to approve a truly comprehensive regulatory framework. Given our experience and aptitude in the conversion of land-based opportunities in newly-regulated territories, GAMING1 was one of a number of companies consulted when the country’s regulatory regime was being drafted. As we only operate in regulated markets, this first step is significant, one we hope will help other regulators see the online sector as an opportunity to increase tax revenue and protect both the customer and licensed land-based operators.
We are certainly witnessing several countries across Latin America move towards workable and comprehensive regulatory frameworks. Brazil is one such example, and while Colombia is currently leading the way, there are promising signs that more territories across Latin America are accelerating their regulatory programmes.
SBC: Prior to your application for a Coljuegos online gambling license, how much research did Gaming1 undertake on the Colombian betting market? What key factors were you trying to gauge from the marketplace?
VA: We undertook more than three years of concerted research before moving to enter the Colombian regulated market. We found that black market operators were benefiting from the lack of regulation, with the expected dotcom sites and several networks of street-level bookmakers. It was promising to find Coljuegos was eager and committed to regulating the activity, which meant there was an opportunity in the country for law-abiding providers like GAMING1.
We are always assessing new opportunities to expand our global reach and will continue to do so in a considered and methodical way.
SBC: Can European learnings/dynamics be transferred to a South American product launch, or are stakeholders better off starting from scratch?
VA: We believe there are some lessons to be found in Europe that are worth paying attention to for both operators and regulators. In Colombia, we expect that convergence between online and offline will play a big role, with a number of established land-based operators already present in the market and targeting the online sector. This will be especially true over the first few initial years of the new regulatory regime. Furthermore, a market like Chile should look at the Belgian model of regulation, as these markets share a lot of similarities with respect to their interest in protecting traditional land-based casinos.
However, while there are common themes and practices that European companies can learn from in their approach to Latin America, it is very important that they do not treat LatAm as a homogenous region, or arrive in a new jurisdiction with exactly the same offer they have found success within Europe and expect it to work. Localisation is key, and providing players in new markets with content tailored to their interests is the surest route to success.
SBC: What marketing initiatives do you have planned for Zamba.co launch, how does Colombian player engagement differ to Western markets?
VA: The aim with Zamba is to give the Colombian player an enhanced, multi-channel experience. We are focused on building value to the players and becoming the first truly premier online sportsbook and casino available to a player base that has been subjected to unethical black-market operators for far too long. We will focus our attention on promoting this message to Colombian players over the coming months.
SBC: Finally, how do you see Zamba.co brand and operations growing within the coming months?
VA: We would be remiss if we didn’t remind ourselves that this is a newly regulated industry in Colombia, and the market will need time to grow and mature into the new framework. Coljuegos has to continue its commitment to stop illegal operators. We are patient and confident in our offer and strategy and primed for a strong first year of operation.
Victor Araneda, Director of Latin America, GAMING1