Michael Pedersen, Chief Commercial Officer at Livespins

Michael Pedersen

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 iGaming NEXT.

Michael Pedersen, Chief Commercial Officer at Livespins, talks about how localisation and next-gen experiences will be key for operators looking to succeed in Brazil. The sleeping giant that is Brazil is now very much awake and thanks to a last-minute update to enabling law, with both online sports betting and casino in play. This will open up the market properly, but in doing so will bring more challenges and ultimately competition for both operators and suppliers. But where there are challenges there are opportunities and Brazil presents one of the biggest since the repeal of PASPA in the US. But with such high levels of competition, standing out from the crowd and delivering a top- level player experience will be key to success. Localisation will be crucial, especially when it comes to content and just as important will be delivering next-generation experiences to players – esports and streaming are massive in Brazil. To learn more about how operators can hit the mark with players, we sat down with Michael Pedersen, Chief Commercial Officer at the award-winning Livespins.

The Brazil opportunity has become significantly bigger with the inclusion of online casino. Just how much potential does that market have?

Casino always presents a massive opportunity and is often the driver of revenues for operators. Legal sports betting on its own would have been a game changer for operators and suppliers, but the addition of casino really does take this to the next level. As we have seen in more mature markets, it is casino that is often the biggest generator of revenue and provides the predictability and stability that operators need to ensure the market is viable for them – you only need to look to the US states that have only legalised sports betting to see how tough the going can get for operators and suppliers. Brazil’s decision to push ahead with both sports and casino really does wake the sleeping giant of Latin America and I expect to see both operators and suppliers target the market aggressively in their efforts to unlock the tremendous potential it offers.

Given the high levels of competition expected, will it be tough for operators and suppliers to claim a decent share of the market in Brazil?

It’s going to be a fiercely competitive market for sure, but competition breeds innovation and forces operators and suppliers to deliver absolute quality. This is a good thing for consumers/players and for the wider industry as it acts as a catalyst for progress. To truly engage players, sportsbooks and casinos will need to deliver a deeply localised experience that not only meets but exceeds player expectations. And expectations will be incredibly high. This means taking localisation beyond language and currency to cover things like onboarding, payments, sports, markets/odds, games and providers and of course bonuses and promotions. They also need to think outside the box to offer betting and casino products that appeal to the next generation of players.

So, what does a localised online casino actually look like?

Once the basics such as local language, design preferences etc are covered, the most effective way to localise a casino is the content stocked in the lobby. This means working with studios and providers from Brazil or with proven experience from Brazil and the wider LatAm region. These developers have a forensic understanding of local player preferences and know exactly how to produce games that excite and entertain and keep players coming back for more. One of such studios is Caleta Gaming which are integrated into Livespins already and we are onboarding other localised studios as well. We are also now working with a number of key Brazil influencer agencies and Brazilian-Portuguese-speaking streamers. More broadly, operators should stock their lobbies with slots that leverage popular themes and cultural quirks and that have the mechanics, RTPs, volatilities and bonus features that players enjoy the most. By stocking the right games from the right providers, operators can quickly build trust – and in turn, loyalty – among players even if their brand is new to the market.

Brazilian players are big into esports and streaming. How can operators tap into this trend?

Operators need to build on their localised game lobbies and ensure they are delivering content in the way that players want to consume it. Of course, this means using the traditional channels but it’s vital to consider new platforms such as casino and slot streaming. Historically, operators have struggled to offer this in a way that is responsible and compliant – with many turning to streamers active on Twitch – but this is where Livespins comes in. Because it sits within the casino lobby, players are offered the same responsible gambling and safe gaming tools as when playing standard slot and casino games. But Livespins is more than just streaming – players can get directly involved by betting behind their favourite influencer and the action taking place across the reels.

This creates a group bet and shared experience but with each player able to select their own bet size and number of spins. Social interaction is also a core part of Livespins with players able to chat with the streamer/brand ambassador/celebrity and each other throughout as well as dropping reactions, emojis and even gifs. Ultimately, this delivers the entertainment, social interaction and gambling that audiences are seeking, especially those lucrative but hard-to-reach Millennials and Generation Z cohorts. 

Any predictions for the Brazilian market?

I think it’s going to be incredibly exciting as operators and suppliers make their move and battle it out for the largest share of the market. Those who can localise and innovate will be the ones who truly engage players at an unprecedented scale and will maximise the immense potential on the table. This really is a game-changer market and I think we are going to see both operators and suppliers shift up a gear in their efforts to come out on top. Livespins certainly has big plans for Brazil, and we will be adding more content from local game providers as well as building out our team of Portuguese-language-speaking streamers.

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