8 July 2020
Costa Rica
SoloAzar Exclusive
Events
Share

SAGSE Talks Panama and Costa Rica: Boosting online gaming

(Costa Rica/Panama, SoloAzar Exclusive).- The SAGSE Talks Panama and Costa Rica event focused on the opening of online gaming in those two countries, to address the issue of the cessation of face-to-face activity in betting and plans to reactivate the market, among other topics.

Following the logic of previous SAGSE Talks events in Latam, an informal, relaxed but in-depth talk was held to discuss how the cessation of face-to-face activity influenced betting, the plans for the re-activation of the market, the bet on modernization to through online, and discuss the issue of the government's help to operators and what measures they consider to get out of this difficult time.

The objective is the dissemination and analysis of alternatives to overcome the crisis experienced by the industry throughout the region.

The event focused on the opening of online gaming in Panama and Costa Rica, to treat the issue regarding the suspension of traditional betting and the plans to reactivate the market, among other things.

Following the logic of previous SAGSE Talks events in Latam, an informal, relaxed but in-depth talk was held to discuss how the cessation of face-to-face activity influenced betting, the plans for the re-activation of the market, the bet on modernization to through online, and discuss the issue of the government's help to operators and what measures they consider to get out of this difficult time.

The objective is the dissemination and analysis of alternatives to overcome the crisis experienced by the industry throughout the region.

The event focused on the opening of online gaming in Panama and Costa Rica.

Speakers: Esmeralda Britton, President of Social Protection Council (JPS), National Lottery and Popular Lottery Chances in Costa Rica. Cibelae Treasurer. Manuel Sánchez Ortega, Executive Secretary of the Gambling Control Committee in Panama. Karen Sierra, Director, Latin American and Caribbean Government Relations and Business Development at GLI.

Moderator: Pablo Zuppi Director at Yogonet.

To talk about the situation in Costa Rica, Esmeralda Britton said: "COVID changed our plans. We are all teleworking, which was not a regular practice for the JPS. Accelerating the platforms and we were able to get ahead with it. The pandemic caused suspension of draws. The electronic lottery (in supermarkets and shops), as it was at fixed points, could not be maintained. In May we restart the draws gradually, and in July almost every week there will be the 3 draws. We managed to place the lottery pre printed on a digital channel. It is a success, and it is for a market of people more accustomed to the Internet. We have started to do webinars with the sellers, something unthinkable before. We had a very good reaction. We also activated a new payment method to adapt to this new process. We also provide all the street vendors with safety kits for when they are on the streets."

"Regarding the reality of the Panamanian market, Manuel Sánchez commented:"COVID grabbed us all unexpectedly. As in Costa Rica, we have had to adapt, taking into account that the President of the Republic said that the most important thing is to take care of the health of all Panamanians. The most important thing for us is health. The industry was already beaten because the previous government imposed a selective tax of 5.5%. As a result of this, the game in Panama had dropped a bit. Still the gaming industry is a very noble industry. It is always innovating; casino owners are changing machines, investing. At the end of the road, along with the state, because I have always been characterized by being a regulator friend of operators. The industry was rising, the government had injected money into the street. Panama was better and the pandemic came. From this we will come out of the hand of God and united ".

Then he added: "I speak with CIRSA, with CODERE, and at the end of the road, all operators agree that the only objective is to lift the gaming industry. Here in Panama, the industry generates more than 10,000 jobs. The government in some way it has created solidarity bonuses. They are reaching 95% of the employees of the gaming halls. This industry generates to the Panamanian state around 150 million dollars. That is why for us as a country it is necessary that , somehow, complying with the reopening protocols, the game rooms are opened. For that, we have to wait for the peak of contagion to pass. In the country we are going through block 3 of reopening, and the casino industry is it's in block 4, because it's tied to hotels. When that happens, inspectors will be there to enforce the rules. Most operators are law-abiding and that's very important to me now."

Karen Sierra stated: "Both operators and lotteries seek to move to channels where they can operate, amid the uncertainty of not knowing when we are going to be able to operate, when we are going to return to the face-to-face game, and when it happens, if it leaves to be able to maintain over time. We are already seeing casinos in the US that have opened and have had to close again. I think the operators are very aware that the most important thing is the health of their employees and players. The great challenge is that the players comply with the rules of the protocol to be able to stay healthy and avoid contagion. Returning to the online topic and diversification in order to maintain our industry, the pandemic accelerated that process."

He thus emphasized the importance of technology, in recognizing that it exists and that the decision will have to be made to implement it in gaming rooms. Also in the importance of investing in these processes to give more confidence and security to the players.

"The challenges are bringing us many opportunities, and above all, they are pushing regulators to make faster but well-founded decisions and with the support of the entire industry," Sierra said.