“We managed to give the lottery a true social meaning”

Yossi Abadi, CEO at Tenlot Group.
Yossi Abadi, CEO at Tenlot Group.

(Exclusive interview).- Yossi Abadi, CEO at Tenlot Group, speaks with Focus Gaming News about the current state of the industry and the company.

Tenlot Group has recently positioned itself as one of the companies drawing the most interest in the gaming industry. From its social focus and community support, to its decision to invest in development markets, Tenlot has turned many heads.

Yossi Abadi, CEO at Tenlot Group, has emerged as a promoter of both innovation and social causes in the markets where the group operates. In a special interview with Focus Gaming News, Abadi analyses the situation in the Latin American market and opens a window onto the group’s business vision.

In addition to Europe and Asia, Tenlot has a presence in Africa and Central America, where it’s preparing to expand. How do you choose the markets in which to operate? Are you aiming at any particular new market?

The markets that interest us the most are those that allow us to operate games under a national brand or under a charity; In Guatemala, for example, we operate as a country brand, linked to large social projects; In Ghana, we operate games on behalf of the National Lottery Authority (NLA), the proceeds of which flow into development projects. In Kenya, we operate Kenya Charity Sweepstake, established as the National Lottery, a company over 50 years old with an impeccable reputation for its social mission.

In Costa Rica, for example, we will operate on behalf of the Costa Rican Red Cross, among other countries. We try to use the same model also in more competitive markets. We can say that any opportunity evaluated aims for a value-added approach, both on licenses or private alliances that represent an ‘advantage’. We are honored to be able to lead great projects today, which at the same time carry a social mission: they give value to the players, to the beneficiaries of charitable projects, to the state and finally to us.

In general, we are not afraid of the least developed gaming markets, as we believe they represent real growth opportunities. The lottery market in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, generates less than 1 per cent of the sector’s global income, compared to the region’s GDP, which represents about 3 per cent of world GDP. The combination of an underdeveloped sector, economies with high rates of economic growth, accelerated urbanisation and a young demographic structure, attracts us a lot and we have enough risk appetite, technical capacity and financial strength to allow us to enter those less consolidated markets.

“Any opportunity evaluated aims for a value-added approach.”

Yossi Abadi, CEO at Tenlot Group.

Certainly, we are in advanced negotiations with further governments in Africa, Latin America and Asia, who have positively analysed our business vision, which is always linked to the social aspect. Our goal is to grow our global presence and continue to lead good causes.

What assessment do you make of the regulatory situation in Brazil? Is it a potential market for Tenlot?

We consider the opening of the sports betting sector in Brazil to be a very positive development. It is a milestone for the liberalisation of the online sector throughout Latin America. I believe that licensing and regulation will have to strike a good balance if the sector is to grow sustainably and for the benefit of all parties.

For some time, Tenlot Group has followed developments in Brazil and ultimately we are very interested. Brazil – a ‘continent’ by itself – represents a market of magnitude, offering space to operate for many players in the industry. I hope that the government knows how to link gambling operations with charitable projects. That will add value to everyone.

How do you see the legal framework in the rest of the Latin American region? (especially in relation to restrictions on online gambling in countries like Chile and Argentina.)

The Latin American market continues to have enormous growth potential. The lottery sector, for example, only generates around 2 per cent of world lottery income, while the region’s population represents 8-9 per cent of the world population. There is no doubt that regulatory frameworks in several countries have to find a new balance and establish a national playground that generates taxes and economic activity sooner or later.

The opportunity to set “responsible gaming” policies is also limited when speaking of a restricted market with off-shore operators. It is important that governments adapt to the present. Digital platforms play a critical role in today’s industry. Even more so in times of global pandemic. Those who will benefit the most from a policy of openness and supervision – are the states themselves.

“The Latin American market continues to have an enormous growth potential.”

Yossi Abadi, CEO at Tenlot Group.

What are the main challenges you face when entering a new market and then once you are established there?

The first challenge of a new operation is the generation of trust and recognition in the new audience. In markets where there is not always a strong regulatory body, there are ‘adventurers’ and ‘mischievous’ who have left bad marks with doubtful operations. You have to go beyond that, showing professionalism and transparency, legality and attractiveness. That takes time. And it requires a lot of investment.

Likewise, there is the challenge of cultural adaptation that is required in each country. In terms of operation, Latin America is not Africa. And Africa is not Europe. There are so many cultural gaps, and selecting the best local human resource is the key first step and a big challenge before and during the operation. We always enter new markets by establishing an operational team that is made up almost entirely of local employees and experts, complemented by our international experts. This is our winning formula.

The mistake of many companies is that they come to a country and try to adjust the local mindset to their own. And not the other way around.

Tenlot attaches great importance to the social factor in the markets in which it operates ,and to the possibilities that gambling brings to finance various healthcare initiatives. How do you address this issue?

I firmly believe that the Lottery and the gaming industry must be related to social development. Israel is a great example: the national lottery is a crucial component in building schools, sports centers and obtaining scholarships and educational contributions. The vision that Tenlot leads is novel in the sector. Few follow this philosophy. I think that as entrepreneurs we also have a moral responsibility and not just an economic one. In fact, the blessing of helping leads your operation to growth. It is our conviction.

Why should someone choose Tenlot’s services?

We generally work on the promotion of national brands. What guides us are four fundamental pillars: transparency, innovation, investment and social development.

The bases that define us are clear: give the state the capacity to supervise the scope of the operation from within; to see the numbers in real time. At the same time, offer advanced technology solutions that generate attractiveness and interest to new audiences. We also arrived with an important financial arm, remembering that investment in advertising and marketing plays a crucial component in the growth of the operation.

You have to take risks, and that’s our business. All this, integrally related to a social strategy, development of opportunities and support for those in need – leads to success. The state wins, the player wins, society wins, and we win as an operating company.