s organizers, what do you think is the best quality of the Colombian gaming industry in particular and as well as of Latin American gaming industry in general?
Definitely, we believe that this question should be divided into two parts. Colombia has made great strides with the opening and legalization of new forms of gaming such as sportsbooks and other games via the approval process, including video lotteries and Keno. The great leap into the future will no doubt be the online connection to a central “brain” that will receive detail on the operation of each machine in real time, determining the tax that each operator should contribute to the Colombian tax authority. President Juan Manuel Santos announced a 6% budget increment for the ministry of the sector. As such, the Colombian market has become a giant magnet to attract investment, because the technological suitability towards the new system requires the replacement of more than 30,000 slots and that means that the operators will have to make a huge effort to acquire funding, while manufacturers will have to make an unprecedented effort to meet that demand at competitive prices. This atmosphere of legalization and transparency is unique on the continent right now.
Latin America itself is a market with a great potential that its suffering a restrictive process in Venezuela and Ecuador, due to the absolute prohibition by those two governments with regards to casinos. Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay show stable levels of development and Argentina is suffering evident difficulties that we believe will be overcome in the medium-term.
Due to all the above, our responsibility as FADJA organizers has gone far beyond the organization of the event itself, which no doubt in its 17th edition will be even better, and we are supporting the regional industry in several ways, offering integration and awareness opportunities as a strengthened economic sector, which is very important at the institutional level as well as in regards to public opinion.
What aspects should you improve in order to boost the business?
In our relationship with the operators, they share their concerns with us about the difficulties to finance their business, about their adherence to new and heftier tax rules, etc . Beyond that, they also share with us their desire to grow and continue in the sector, contributing with innovative market strategies to entertain players throughout the entire country.
They understand that FAJDA is the most important networking platform and that they should take full advantage of it. As the International Events Union said, the power of the exhibitions is immense. “Face to face is stronger every day; despite technological improvements, face to face is always better to define business.”
How has the profile of FADJA exhibitors and manufacturers changed in recent years?
With the debut show, in 1999, we had less exhibitors, a smaller Colombian market and international markets that accompanied us from the beginning as FADJA founders, among them: Recreativos Franco, Bally, WMS and a few other participants from Colombia.
During this first stage Mundo Video strengthened considerably. Many foreign representatives arrived to the country, opening offices in Bogota to facilitate their contact with the operators. That growth rate has been constant and is reflected in FADJA every year. In past editions, sportsbooks arrived, with a strong presence of brands from Central and Eastern Europe such as Merkur from Germany, Gold Club, Boss Gaming and Zuum from Slovenia, and also Odrex from Ukraine. At the moment, the “boom” are the mergers and the diversification of the gaming offer from some important manufacturers.
What are you preparing for next year?
As I said before, we are preparing the best version of the show, we are inviting all the actors of the sector to the “Casino Night”, the FADJA gala/opening ceremony which all will attend. United by a Corporate Social Responsibility cause, casinos from Bogota and other Colombian cities will, for a few hours, allocate their winnings for the benefit of a foundation which brings together retired and disadvantaged artists and actors to improve their current living conditions. We are also in the early planning stages of a special event in Medellin, the National Congress of Operators, SIJUEGO, that will be verified by mid-2015, with the aim to replicate it in other cities periodically. Localized gaming, permanent betting and sportsbooks, as well as novelty games will take place. One of the goals of the congress will be to bring the banking and financial sector closer to the games of chance industry in Colombia.