“IGT will grow in the Latin American market”
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Dan Mikesell, Regional VP of IGT for Latin America and the Caribbean.
What novelties are you presenting at FADJA? Which are your expectations for the show?
I haven´t been long in IGT, but I can say that Colombia is a strategical market for us. In recent years, IGT’s presence in the country has not been so strong as it is now. IGT will invest in Colombia and will grow in the Latin American market. For me, Colombia is one of the three main countries in the region.
We brought the best we have: Premium machines, such as Godzilla and Sex and the City. We came with our latest products and we could even bring machines that have not been released to the market yet, such as an hybrid from X-box and a slot machine, Reel Edge Atari Centipede. It is a very attractive machine for young people.
You have mentioned three key markets. Which are the other two?
Mexico and Argentina.
Which are the plans for these three markets in the short and long term?
In fact, Argentina is a growing market, but relatively stable for us. Mexico’s market is growing steadily. We are growing with both our present customers and new ones. Not only as regards to machines but also in systems, and in what we call interactive, online gaming, too.
Will you be present in any other regional event?
In fact, I am not a fan of exhibitions. We will have a very strong presence in SAGSE Buenos Aires, we are participating here and we will be at G2E Las Vegas and ICE. Other than that possibly participate in Peru.
Which are the expectations for this event?
The expectation is to present the new face of IGT and how serious we are about what we do. Besides, I want to introduce the new team to our customers.
You have been in the company for five months. Can you provide us an overview at a regional level?
At a regional level, everything is relatively calm. Everything is really fine. But considering each country itself, each has its own history, dynamism, challenge and opportunity. So I do not see it as a region but on a country-by-country basis. Mexico’s needs are very different from those of Argentina, Panama, Peru, the Caribbean, Uruguay, Chile, etc. Needs are unique. That’s why I am dividing up the team in order to be able to focus on each specific region and provide better service.
Are you thinking of specific products for certain markets?
Yes. We are focusing on the development of products with localized content, centered on each culture. It is not only about choosing a game theme but also about investigating the different cultural values of each region, knowing the players’ tastes and allowing them to feel identified with the game. At this time in Latin America we are presenting Tango de Oro, Carnaval Riches, Fiesta Chihuahua and Huevocartoon.
I will not give priority to any geographic market over other when a product is lauched to the market. The idea is to present the product simultaneously in all the regions. On the other hand, I think we are doing something very interesting and innovative by not seeing the business only as machine business.It goes far beyond. In several countries, the customers are taking decisions about systems; how will they manage their financial side, the customer’s loyalty and the operational part. Our systems team is growing at a very strong pace. We have very good systems that are in operation in the region. The aim is to show them in all our installed bases.
Which would be the strong points in favor of the IGT systems compared to the competitor?
There are several points. First we have a very strong presence. Customers know us and we know them. That confidence gives us strength in several ways. Because of our physical presence in their casinos, we have some leadership. The decision and implementation of a system is a very risky component. It requires investing a significant amount of money and time. Besides, it means imposing that system as an operational future of the company, second, IGT is investing heavily in systems in the US, Europe, Asia and Latin America. These investments are creating suitable functionalities for customers because we are not taking an old system, but we are developing new systems to suit the customer’s needs and requirements.
Can those systems be customized for every customer?
Yes, up to a certain extent. There are certain key basic functionalities, but there are modalities that the customer can choose to buy or not.
Are they designed for big operators?
For large operators and also for a company with 200 or 300 machines. We have set different price categories in order to include everyone. It connects machines, systems and the third point of the triangle, what we call Interactive, the online part. No final legislation has been passed so far, but we are already in advanced talks with the customer. They want to offer what they have in their casinos on the Web, and that is what we are doing.
Do you already have that tool?
We have a world-class platform. We are buying several companies annually to keep updated with technology. We are already starting projects with customers, using the installed base of the casino and taking the content to the Internet.
Have you planned the opening of more IGT offices in the region?
Yes. In the past, IGT handled everything from Argentina, we have already divided that: Argentina is managing Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile. There is also the Andean region: Peru and Colombia; and Central America, which includes Panama and the other countries; Mexico is a sub-region and the Caribbean is another sub-region. We are opening offices and hiring local people in those areas. In Peru and Colombia, there is a distributor, Francisco Ledesma, but in the other areas it is 100% IGT.