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Livespins CCO Michael Pedersen says operators will have to think outside the box if they are to acquire and retain players at scale, and that streaming could be the answer.

News that bonuses and free bets are set to be prohibited in Brazil will take some of the shine off what has long been seen as a breakthrough Latam market. The opportunity is undoubtedly significant, but it’s becoming clear this is a market that’s going to be tough to crack.

Success is not a given and, as we’ve seen in the US, having deep pockets doesn’t mean you can buy your way to market dominance. In Brazil, operators are going to have to play by different rules and think outside the box when it comes to how they acquire and retain players.

This should be seen as a good thing, an opportunity for brands and their marketing teams to try something new. Bonusing has long been a race to the bottom and ultimately doesn’t keep players engaged with a sportsbook or casino if the overall player experience isn’t up to scratch.

Before discussing some of the alternative ways operators can acquire players and then deliver the thrilling experiences they expect in order to keep them loyal to the brand, let’s first take a quick look at what the law currently says when it comes to bonuses.

The letter of the law

Online sports betting and casino is permitted under Law 14.790 (Betting Law) which was legalised by President Luiz Inácio da Silva in December last year. Contained within it is a clause regarding customer sign-up incentives, which includes bonuses and free bets.

This is what it states: “It is forbidden for the operating agent to grant, in any form, advancement, anticipation, bonus, or previous advantage, even if merely for promotion, dissemination, or advertising, for placing bets.”

The regulatory framework is continuing to develop but there has been no indication that this clause will be removed, and bonuses permitted.

For an industry that has focused heavily on bonusing to acquire and retain customers, this presents a new challenge to overcome.

Nail the basics

It’s important to understand that operators must deliver a standout experience from the very first moment the player engages with the brand. Sign-up must be seamless, the cashier stocked with the right payment options while content/markets/odds must be localised.

This is foundational stuff, but it’s still an area where some operators miss the mark. Let me elaborate. In Brazil (and in all markets) localised content is an absolute must. Don’t underestimate the differences in player preferences when it comes to slot themes, mechanics and in-game bonuses.

This is why at Livespins we have been working hard to onboard slot developers from across Latin America and, specifically, those based in Brazil. These providers truly understand what players are looking for, especially in the very early days of the market getting up and running.

Of course, specific games can be used in marketing campaigns run across various channels from affiliates to social media. But without this highly localised content, operators will be unable to maximise the potential these channels provide.

Where consumer attention can be found

Operators will need to engage players via the channels they give their attention to. Social media is a global phenomenon, but so too is streaming. In the last 12 months alone, online slot and casino streaming has racked up more than 420 million viewing hours on Twitch.

Streaming is incredibly popular in Brazil, which is the second largest geo for Twitch after the US, and this presents a huge opportunity for operators when it comes to acquisition and retention.

They should consider launching their own channels so that they can acquire players from this massive pool of potential players. They can use platforms such as Twitch for this, but they need to take a considered approach given that Twitch is not afraid of black-listing operators.

Livespins provides a great alternative and can be used not only for acquisition but retention, too. Because it sits within the casino lobby, players are afforded all of the responsible gambling tools the operator must offer under their local and international licences making it a fully compliant solution.

But we also take the streaming experience to the next level with players able to bet with their favourite streamers and the action taking place across the reels with each spin. If the streamer wins, they win.

The Livespins experience is socially charged, with players able to chat with the streamer and each other throughout. They can also drop reactions, emojis and even gifs. This provides a casino experience like no other, delivering high levels of engagement, longer session times and an unprecedented return rate.

Operators can use their own streamers, including their celebrity brand ambassadors. This presents unique marketing opportunities and via a channel where players are focusing their attention.

We believe streaming will play a significant role in acquisition and CRM in Brazil, especially considering that bonuses will be off the table. Those who engage with the channel, and then deliver a top customer experience, have what it takes to rise to the top in what will be a hugely competitive market.

Michael Pedersen is a strategic commercial leader on a mission to drive growth for tier-1 brands. He has more than 14 years’ experience within the online gambling industry and 20+ years’ commercial leadership experience across brands like Pokerstars and NetEnt. In addition, he co-founded social casino Letsbet.com as well as NEXT.io. He holds an MBA from University of Leicester and has completed executive programs at Stanford.

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