he online 'SAGSE Talks' were the alternative chosen by SAGSE to offer a space for sharing and debating within the gambling industry, in light of the social-distancing directives implemented across the globe as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The debut of the project jointly organized by Monografie, Yogonet and Global Wizards, exceeded expectations with over 60,800 minutes of display time, a constant audience of more than 510 participants, and a total of 5,286 users during the two-hour streaming session via social networks.
The first of a series of SAGSE Talks focused on the Argentine online market and featured seven speakers: Sebastián Vivot (Buenos Aires City Lottery), Silvio Vivas (Entre Rios Institute of Financial Aid), Luis Ayestarán (Río Negro Lottery), Lucas Baffetti (San Luis lottery, Grupo Slots), Matías Vannelli (Casino Club), Karen Sierra-Hughes (GLI) and Gustavo Cisneros (Pálpitos 24, Tucumán).
"As the whole world goes through a very difficult time, SAGSE seeks to provide a free, and open space dedicated to thoroughly analyze each country in the region, aimed at keeping this industry afloat and protecting jobs," said Alan Burak, Vice President of Monografie, during his opening speech. Fernando Polti, CEO of Global Wizard, was responsible for the technological development of the conference and Pablo Zuppi, partner and Director of Yogonet Gaming News, served as the moderator.
The coronavirus crisis struck right when the Buenos Aires City Lottery (LOTBA) was in the process of granting online gaming licenses. Sebastián Vivot, IT Manager, LOTBA, commented: "The pandemic is affecting us. Some companies have moved forward and filed the necessary documents to obtain the relevant permit to operate online, but we ourselves are a government-owned company, and we are aware that sometimes operators take too long to act. We are all working remotely, doing double shifts, and working in a collaborative manner with them and other regulatory bodies to move forward because we understand that in this context, the online channel is the most important one."
The Province of Rio Negro has been offering online gaming since 2013, and the president of the regulatory body, Luis Ayestarán, is sure this crisis will open up new opportunities: "We must be quick and smart to try and transform our markets." He believes regulators were moving slowly because they mistakenly believed players weren’t fully ready to embrace the online arena.
"The health crisis and the social-distancing measures it entails have brought about changes in customer behavior. As a result, we have been forced to make adjustments as well, but at a breakneck speed. Those who do not understand that this situation poses more opportunities than threats are not likely to survive," Ayestarán explained.
Silvio Vivas, General Manager at the Entre Rios Institute of Financial Aid (IAFAS), shares insights about the pandemic’s impact in his jurisdiction: "We have had a regulatory framework in force for online gaming in the Province of Entre Rios for two years and we are about to begin a comprehensive licensing process that covers every aspect of this gambling vertical."
Karen Sierra-Hughes, (Director, Latin American and Caribbean Government Relations and Business Development, GLI), advise her colleagues to watch some company’s reactions closely: "It is interesting to witness how some suppliers that usually operate in the retail sector are now reinventing themselves and beginning to explore the online world. I hope more Latin American and Argentine suppliers arrive in the online sector."
Alan Burak said this was the first of many SAGSE events that are yet to come this year and commented: "This crisis has torn down both physical and mental borders. We need to stick together if we want to prevail and face ongoing changes. We thank you for joining us and more importantly for believing in us. Our purpose is to help the industry overcome this crisis."
The free and open SAGSE Talks are live-streamed via YouTube and Facebook. The first conference is available for those who were not able to watch it live. The second session will take place on April 27 at 3 p.m (Argentine time) and will feature Evert Montero Cárdenas, the president of the Colombian Gaming Trade Association Fecoljuegos, who had a “special guest appearance” on Tuesday’s transmission.