Gabriel Szlaifsztein, general manager – LATAM at Continent 8 Technologies, discusses the company’s expansion in Latin America, with a particular focus on Chile
Gabriel, what inroads has Continent 8 made into the Latin America market? You recently opened a data centre in Puerto Rico. Do you have similar plans in Chile or elsewhere in Latin America?
Latin America is a huge region and one that is incredibly exciting for the global online gambling industry with lots of opportunities on the table. Continent 8 has been growing its presence significantly in LatAm over the past few years, initially launching in Colombia in 2020 and with further rollouts in countries such as Puerto Rico and Peru.
Due to the scale and scope of the region, a one size fits all approach simply does not work. Although there are similarities in markets across LatAm, each has its own culture and way of doing things, so a localized approach is required. This covers technology, distance to customers, regulation, infrastructure needs and more.
Puerto Rico is a good example here. As a country that is linked to the US, it has different rules and requirements than other LatAm markets such as Colombia and Argentina, so we adapted and expanded our network and infrastructure to ensure compliance with the regulations. This means that no matter where a customer is connected, they receive the same market-leading quality of service and have access to a network that now spans 80+ locations globally.
Regarding Chile, Continent 8 has plans to deploy infrastructure on the ground or to provide our services to customers in the market from a neighboring country depending on what the regulations ultimately look like. We believe Chile is a key market for the region, so we are pleased to see that the country is making progress when it comes to regulating online gambling.
If Chile does green light gambling, how would it fit overall with your plans for the region?
Our current roadmap will see us expand into Argentina and Brazil next, but should Chile get the green light over the next few months then we would likely adjust course. We have a first to market approach and given the significance of the Chilean market, we would do what was necessary to ensure that our customers were in the position to go live from day one.
This is only possible because we are an agile company with the resources at hand and the processes in place to be able to quickly and easily adapt to the ever-changing nature of the regulatory landscape, not only in LatAm but also in North America and Europe.
Chile has had one of the most stable economies in the region for decades. If online gambling does get the go ahead how big would the market be when compared to other regions which have liberalized the market such as Colombia and Argentina?
The stability of the market is important, but so too are other factors such as population, propensity to gamble, internet coverage, smartphone penetration and more. Chile is roughly a third of the size of Colombia and Argentina when it comes to population, but it has a good net income per capita and gambling is a popular activity in the country. The stability in Chile compensates for its smaller population size so when all factors are considered it has the potential to be a very strong online gambling market indeed.
What kind of services would you be looking to offer in Chile? Would you be looking to offer Continent 8’s global private network? Would you be looking to offer your cyber security solutions to the market?
Continent 8 is the go-to provider for managed hosting, connectivity and security solutions. We have a global connected network spanning 80+ locations across four continents. Our solutions include public cloud, hyperscale connectivity, cybersecurity (for example DDoS and SOC/SIEM) and much more.
For cybersecurity, operators and suppliers should be focusing on this and the threat that cybercrime poses to the industry, which is one of the most attacked sectors. Continent 8 has more than 15 years of experience protecting industry data, and preventing and mitigating attacks.
What kind of partnerships would you be looking to build upon in Chile?
Chile already has certified data centers that are compliant with local and international regulations, so it would make sense for us to join forces to create a market-leading solution for iGaming companies active in the market. Chile has very good global connectivity, so we can leverage this to deliver international connectivity via submarine cables that run through the Pacific Ocean and to the Atlantic through Argentina and the Caribbean.
From a Data Center and network standpoint what challenges and opportunities does Chile offer as a potential jurisdiction?
I believe there are more opportunities than challenges as infrastructure and networks in the country are well developed in terms of suppliers and the quality of the product and service offered. Of course, Chile is a seismic zone so it will be important for companies to have off-site backup and/or a contingency site.
Do you think that Continent 8 could help play an advisory role in Chile in shaping online gambling policy in the same way it has done so in the past in other jurisdictions by working with policy makers and customers?
Absolutely! In fact, we are already speaking with and supporting policymakers as we have done in other markets around the world. Continent 8 is no stranger to regulation, and we are more than happy to share our experience and knowledge with iGaming regulators across the globe and also work with them to ensure that our solutions are fully compliant.
With Enjoy S.A and Dreams S.A – the two largest casino operators in Chile – recently announcing that they had finalized their agreement to merge the two companies, what will the impact of that merger have on the market overall?
This partnership results in them taking 60% of the overall land-based casino market in Chile, and this will certainly allow them to use their brand image to empower online activity once the market opens up.
However, there are other international iGaming companies that players in Chile are already engaged with so despite this I expect the market to be one of healthy competition between local operators and global brands. As always, there will also be opportunities for smaller operators to identify a niche and claim their share of what looks set to be a sizeable market.
This article features in G3 May 2022 edition on page 48.