CAP sat down with Stephanie Wynters of the Wager Web affiliate program and discussed the industry in Costa Rica and all the changes throughout the years and what to expect in the future. Stephanie has been in the Costa Rican gaming industry for several years and provided us with her experience and background knowledge on the region.
Q. How long has the gaming industry been in Costa Rica and how has it changed over the years?
A. Costa Rica has gone through some big changes over the last 15 years with the gaming industry. Since the sports books arrived in the early 90’s, Costa Ricans enjoyed the benefits of good paying jobs, stable employment and gaming companies looking to establish themselves within the market.
Companies could recruit from a solid working pool of highly educated (95% literacy rate) employees with an excellent command of the English language. Companies like BetCris, Bodog, BetUS, Sportsbook.com and WagerWeb came to the country years ago with high expectations.
However, the industry in Costa Rica has gone through testing times in the last few years. The drop in the US economy coupled with greater challenges to service the North American customer have been contributing factors.
Some brands have closed their doors to the North American traffic and are focusing in other markets instead. Bigger companies are now operating leaner and there are more smaller shops in the market now.
Q. What are the laws for companies in Costa Rica and can they get licenses?
A. Officially, Costa Rica does not require gaming licenses but the government is currently looking in to regulation after all these years and now after much debate the deputies have unanimously approved and are in the process of exercising the new tax law.
In Costa Rica’s national newspaper “La Nacion” there was a recent article that breaks down the tax payment levels according to the size of the sportsbook. Employees of Sportsbooks are afraid that this law will provoke some Sportsbook owners to leave the country thus leaving many unemployed. We are just waiting to see what happens as this bill awaits ratification in the second debate.
Q. With all the instability in the market because the gaming companies main customer base is the US, along with the weak economy, how have all the laws and company closures changed the industry in Costa Rica?
A. Well, it has been both good and bad for the industry. Since many gaming companies have closed over the last few years, the strong ones have made it through the tough times and benefited in the long run.
The industry has now since stabilized and the companies still here have endured and picked up all the players. Overall, as far as player liquidity, there has been a decrease in value per player but an increase in revenue: meaning that the average deposit has gone down but the numbers of players have increased.
Q. Wager Web has been here since 1994 and is really well known in Costa Rica. How has the affiliate program changed over the years to keep growing?
A. Wager Web is probably one of the most established, well-staffed affiliate departments in the Costa Rican gaming community. We take the affiliate program seriously and attend to every affiliate individually.
Some major improvements include incorporating EGASS affiliate software, built a skilled “A” team of affiliate managers, improved promotions and aggressively increased the conversion rate up to 45% for affiliates. One key edge is that we are one of the few companies accepting major credit cards from US players and that’s great for affiliates looking to convert players.