ow did the year go for you? Looking back, how do you rate ELA 2010?
ELA 2010 was held to great acclaim last May at its now habitual venue in Mexico City. Now, six months on, we can draw up a fairly exact balance. For us, it was an overwhelming success. We expected all the major sector multinationals to exhibit, and we weren’t disappointed. The most important aspect, however, was the huge number of deals hammered out throughout the event and implemented afterwards.
It is important to remember that, in this regard, Mexico differs greatly from other Latin-American countries. When casinos and arcades buy slots, they don’t buy 10, 20 or 30; they buy them by the hundred. This means huge earnings for slot manufacturers. The only similar case is probably Argentina.
In Mexico, there is still a lot of pie to be shared, a lot of business opportunities.
Moreover, companies disembarking here with their products are discovering the falseness of the received wisdom that there are only a handful of clients to do business with in Mexico. This was the story put about by certain manufacturers, mainly from the US, to discourage possible new competition from coming in and taking their business. That’s one bubble that has been burst. Nowadays, it is hard to keep up with demand from the new establishments constantly opening up and being inaugurated around the country.
How is the 2011 issue shaping up?
It’s looking good. By early December 85% of the space had been taken up. We have already planned a second phase which we will probably open after the London fair in January. It’s the same every year - in January we have to extend. However, we have had one major loss this year, in the shape of several US multinationals deciding to take a year off and not attend ELA this year. Obviously, after this break, we would love to have them back in 2012, if they change their minds.
Obviously, others prefer to maintain a presence at the fair, as there is so much business to be done there. Logically, you can’t suit everybody all of the time. Some have a bigger market share in Mexico than others, and others have products that trump the competition.
For this next edition, we once more have the backing of the major Latin-American and European firms, who, albeit with a few exceptions, have decided to reinforce their presence on the Mexican market. We have also had a huge increase in the number of exhibitors from Eastern Europe, who have decided to wager heavily on the Mexican market. In other words and although some of the major multinationals will be missing, their place has been taken very quickly by dynamic young companies eager to make their mark.
In general, how do you think exhibitions and congresses ought to evolve to continue to draw in manufacturers (exhibitors) and operators (visitors)?
Our fair is very different. It is what we like to call a “boutique exhibition”. At international level, it is the most elegant fair on the circuit and the one with the most interesting and beautiful stands. Exhibitors spend a lot of money on looking good – and so do we. We believe client service is essential. Many exhibitions are cold and shabby; the organisers don’t bother to create a welcoming atmosphere.
Everybody’s got their own way of doing things, and we push ourselves very hard. Our idea is to extend ELA’s catchment area. Even though we have always received big operators from Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rice and Belize, among others, over the coming two years we want to concentrate on internationalising our exhibition even further.
At G2E we held our first meetings with representatives from some of the US and Canadian tribes, who said they would be interested in attending ELA 2011, as many of the products showcased at the Mexican fair are very similar to what they are currently buying on the US market.
What is the current situation of the Casino sector in Latin America in general and Mexico in particular? What are the main problems facing businesses interested in backing the industry? What are the benefits and the opportunities?
It would be quite out of place for me to analyse the situation of Casinos in Latin America as a whole and I think the regulators, operators and manufacturers working in the region can give you a much better picture than I can.
With regards to Mexico, new information is constantly being published by the specialised media, particularly by Yogonet, who does so in a brilliant and professional manner. New establishments are being inaugurated all the time. It is important to take into account that Mexico has 112 million inhabitants, is Latin America’s major tourist destination and is one of the 10 most-visited countries in the world. Mexico is the second largest economy in Latin America, after Brazil.
Just as an example, in Monterrey alone there are 49 slots arcades running at full steam. Gaming operation is also trending very positively. In October, another big step was taken, with the inauguration of live gaming tables, offering American Roulette, craps, Sic Bo, etc., in Casinos, bringing in many new gamers interested in the new games.
The benefits offered by the Mexican gaming sector are huge and the opportunities are excellent, at least so far. ELA 2011 will be the place to close big deals.