Colombia

Dinos Stranomitis, Altenar: Setting the standards for sports betting in Colombia

Dinos Stranomitis, COO at Altenar, discusses the analysis behind creating the best sportsbook experience for Colombian players, why Coljuegos has adopted a clever approach to setting taxation and minimum RTP rates, and how maintaining the right working relationship with each and every one of its operators has helped his company to meet different regulatory challenges across the globe. 

SBC: Colombia became the first LatAm country to introduce nationwide European-style online gambling regulation; how successful has this been so far?

DS: It is not a secret that Colombian authorities have proved themselves to be much better than many gambling authorities elsewhere.

Even if they have been advised by specific European bodies, they introduced a legal framework that secures legality and discourages the black market. Most importantly though, Coljuegos created a framework that is helping the business, rather than penalising it. 

It helps healthy operators to work instead of imposing unreasonable restrictions. Yet, it still protects the end user by forcing operators to guarantee a minimum allowable percentage as a return to the player.

In summary, I would say Colombian regulation has been a great success, with many rules that every country should consider copying.

SBC: What did Altenar do to deliver a unique player experience?

DS: Altenar had a radical approach going into Colombian business. When we signed the agreement with Wplay, it was a long workshop and analysis of how to create a sportsbook that is directly applicable to the average Colombian user.

The two parties worked hand in hand; today we can say that Altenar and Wplay are setting unique standards for the market. Even to the point where some smaller operators are trying to copy our layout instead of some of the world market leaders operating solely in Europe.

It is simple as to say that the average Colombian user feels that Wplay is the company with the greatest user experience.

SBC: How do you assess the country’s tax rate on revenues? Is this a fair enough rate to stop unlicensed operators from enjoying a pricing advantage? 

DS: Actually, I have to claim that Coljuegos and Colombian authorities are quite clever on this topic. The tax of 15% on GGR is very reasonable and well deserved for the State. This literally gives no excuse to illegal operators choosing not to comply with the law. So, definitely the tax in Colombia is not a problem at all.

Maybe the entry fee required is not so low, but this is just made to ensure that proper companies are entering the market. When I say ‘proper’, I mean established companies with a solid business plan – not those trying to scam the players.

SBC: And what about the return to player percentage? Is this prohibitive at all?

DS: The rules are pretty simple and pretty reasonable in this case. Operators should return back to the player a minimum of 83% of the stakes. Really and truthfully, this is not so difficult to achieve if you just have a bit of respect for your clients.

Maybe in the beginning, the average user was a bit naive to bet on combo bets delivering a higher margin, but along the way – and if you measure the performance over a 12 month period – the return to players percentage should never really go below 83%.

Altenar pricing was always, and still is, competitive enough to ensure that the end user will enjoy a good service in terms of pricing, especially on the local leagues that are quite popular with the audience.

SBC: How has the Altenar software stood up to the different regulatory challenges across countries such as Colombia, Sweden, Italy and Romania?

DS: Altenar positioned itself in the market as a B2B sports betting provider that would support a multi-tenancy, multi-channel, multi-jurisdiction service. It was built that way from scratch using the latest technology and specification.

It is definitely a challenge to satisfy several regulatory requirements at the same time, however these are the demands of the modern era.

A good internal analysis, alongside an excellent cooperation and working relationship with each and every one of our operators, made it easier for us to comply. For the benefit of the readers, I would claim that still Italy is the hardest, followed by Sweden.

SBC: What are the key things you’ve learned from 2019 so far?

DS: Altenar in 2019 is going through a major upgrade and investment plan that will pay off over the next 10 years. The ‘lesson’ to learn is not something unique or new, and is simply related to basic business rules that everyone should never forget.

Focus in the plan is the major thing to ensure. Combined with good people retention and acquisition, Altenar has great weapons to continue its strong presence in the market.

SBC: Finally, can you share with us any growth plans for the rest of the year?

DS: As I mentioned above, Altenar is going into a major upgrade and investment. In terms of technical, human resources and facilities infrastructure, this will soon allow us to enjoy a worldwide presence.

At the same time, we invest in the relationship with our partners worldwide and we value their feedback that helps them to grow. Their growth is our growth, so for this reason they always get priority.

Usually this question is mainly to explain the regional target we have, but I would mislead the reader if I said our focus is confined to Europe, LatAm or Africa. However, in reality our growth is likely to come from those regions – and probably in that order.

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