Interview: Max Bauer, Regional CFO, LatAm

Novomatic: "In 2021 many of our customers continued investing in the land-based sector by updating their slot park"

Max Bauer, NOVOMATIC AG Regional CFO, Latin America.
Reading time 5 min

In the first half of the year, a number of trade shows will be taking place in Latin America. What's the company's decision on these industry events? You've confirmed months ago your participation in GAT Cartagena and SAGSE LatAm, events scheduled for March. Is this still on?

These days, due to the situation created by the pandemic, any participation at trade shows poses particular challenges for exhibitors – in terms of travel, logistics and of course the safety and health of the employees. But in contrast to very supra-regional, international show formats which involve a high level of travel and logistics, we our particular situation in Latin America. 

This market has a number of regional industry events such as SAGSE and GAT Expo in which we are going to participate in March. Lately, the emphasis of these shows has shifted to a more intimate format and will also be complemented by a number of local customer events organized by our regional offices throughout the year, each with its country-specific focus and colouring. In addition, we have the PGS 2022 with its regular format this coming June, where we plan to participate as well. Preparations for these shows are well advanced and our teams are already looking forward to meeting again with their customers and partners.

If so, what products will be on display in each show? Who are going to attend on the company's behalf?

The portfolio that will be on display for Latin America includes a number of internationally very popular products that will be available in the various jurisdictions according to their licensing status. At GAT Expo, for example, we will be highlighting the NOVO LINE™ CASH CONNECTION™ Edition 2 in the PANTHERA™ Curve 1.43 and the FUNMASTER 2.27 cabinets for the Colombian market, as well as the new NOVO LINE™ Edition X3 multi-game mix and Gaminator® MY CASH Edition 1, including 45 titles, three of which feature a Standalone Progressive Jackpot.  

For SAGSE in Buenos Aires, we will also have the THUNDER CASH™ Link on show – winner of the SAGSE Award 2021 – and the LUCKY TWIST™ Link with the two titles Dynamite Dragon™ and Money Ki Neko™. Of course, we will also show the myACP Casino Management System with its latest features and functionalities.

These shows present very welcome and eagerly awaited opportunities for the local teams to catch up with their clients, partners and industry peers, see what’s new in the market and discuss customer requirements and projects. They will be attended by the local management and teams and by myself.

During the pandemic live casino has become a tool that helped Colombian land-based operators to go overcome the toughest restrictions. Has this situation increased the demand for ETGs?

During the pandemic, casinos chose to add different tools from the digital sphere to cope with the distancing challenges. Many operators also developed an online offer to not only complement their brick and mortar venues but also substitute during the lockdown periods with a tool that allowed them to stay in touch with their customers. The NOVOMATIC Interactive unit Greentube has grown its footprint in Colombia as one of the online providers with very good results.

However, in 2021 many of our customers took the initiative to continue investing in the land-based sector by updating their slot park. In the Colombian gaming industry, online and land-based operations have coexisted for some time in a perfect complementary ecosystem; and in this scenario, the need arises to have an updated and varied game offer where each player finds entertainment and fun. But that doesn’t necessarily increase the demand for ETGs.

It is also important to note that since 2019 we have observed an increase in the number of slots in Colombia as a result of new regulatory measures imposed by the local regulatory body, Coljuegos, which expanded the regulatory framework in the country.

In 2021, our big best-seller was the popular FUNMASTER cabinet with the Coolfire™ II-s and NOVO LINE™ platforms. This cabinet has become a must-have thanks to its excellent performance and price-quality ratio. With excellent feedback from operators, FUNMASTER has already established as one of the great favourites among players. We are also successfully testing a new Roulette option in Colombia with good results so far. If this test remains successful, we will deploy a new Roulette product for the region. 

In several Argentinian jurisdictions, the pandemic acted as a boost for online gaming regulation. In fact, Novomatic Argentina is the authorized supplier of Greentube products in the City of Buenos Aires. Have you already signed with local operators? What are your goals for this market segment?

Online gaming has recorded excellent growth, especially during these past two years, when land-based venues experienced severe restrictions due to the pandemic. But even before that, the online segment was the fastest growing industry vertical. With the situation created by COVID, this trend has also intensified in Latin America. 

NOVOMATIC Argentina has an excellent and established customer base in Argentina and beyond and thus is in an ideal position to support Greentube generate new contacts and gain a foothold in the region. As a local unit, it represents Greentube vis-à-vis the local authorities in the product certification and homologation process while the Greentube sales team offers its products directly from the HQ. NOVOMATIC Argentina therefore acts as a link between Greentube and local operators as well as between Greentube and the local authorities, providing support and resources. The first results of this cooperation have already been recorded. 

Last year, Novomatic highlighted the performance of Thunder Cash Link, Novo Line Cash Connection Edition 1 and Money Party Link products throughout Latin America. What products are you promoting with higher interest in this region this year?

This year, we are going to highlight the LUCKY TWIST™ Link, the NOVO LINE™ Interactive Edition X3 and more surprises that will be revealed at the shows. Especially the NOVO LINE™ CASH CONNECTION™ Edition 2 is a product that will certainly also appeal to the broad target group of low bet players and we expect it to become an excellent performer throughout the region. 

The myACP casino management system is one of Novomatic's flagships. Is there still room for this product to grow? What are the reasons?

The myACP system is a very powerful tool for a modern casino management. It fulfils all the operational requirements in terms of casino control, accounting and reporting as well as the mandatory regulatory requirements such as fully automated reporting routines. Adding to that myACP offers a variety of modular functionalities that characterize the high level of scalability of the system.

Our help desk and development teams offer quick responses to the requirements of operators and controlling authorities in Spanish and in the same time zone as our clients, creating a high level of customization, which in turn feeds into the development of a constantly growing range of functionalities. Recent results of this adaptability to the ever-changing demands of our industry were for example the COVID functionalities among many others. These were developed to facilitate a particularly sensitive floor traffic management that takes into account the social distancing requirements by automating electronic gaming machine lock/unlock processes.

Many clients choose the myACP system based on the particular experience in the regional market since 2001. We will continue to grow: during 2021, we installed the system in seven new casinos in Argentina with a total of 1,706 slots. Currently, 64 casinos in the Argentine Republic use the myACP system, which amounts to 6,280 slots plus 1,120 more in the region.

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