INTERVIEW WITH MANUEL TORRES, CEO OF SYNOT SPAIN
Manuel Torres Alvarez is the CEO of SYNOT Gaming Spain. With more than 16 years of experience in the gambling business, he is now responsible for the Spanish market and in the future for South America. Manuel started working for SYNOT about three years ago, and before that had spent 13 years working for the German company Gauselmann Group – more known as Merkur. He is now based and runs an office in Granada in the south of Spain.
What are main challenges and specifics of the Spanish market?
We started on the Spanish market three years ago with the first VLTs, but the problem is that Spain is not a single country, it’s 17 different „countries“ and laws for the gambling business and not in all of these regions are the VLTs allowed.
We have already installed around 500 machines on the Spanish market, and that is in just 3 regions - because VLT is only allowed in 3 regions.
The main goal for the next few months is to develop an AWP (“Amusement with prices” slot machine), so we can cover all these 17 regions. The problem with this is that we have to certify each machine in each region, and every region has its own law. And we have to deposit a lot of guarantees.
I hope that with SYNOT Games we will produce some really nice AWPs because you create really great games. But, of course, first we have to create some platforms and so on, but I think that Spain is going to be a very successful market for this.
How many times you have been in Slovakia?
This is my fourth time, but it’s the first time I stay more than one night. Before I was here for one hour, or a couple of hours when visiting Uherske Hradiste, but this is the first time I was here for two nights.
Did you visit any nice places?
Yesterday night I went with Miroslav Valenta to a really nice restaurant in the center of Bratislava, which was called Lemon Tree I think, it had a nice sky bar, the view was very nice so I could see the whole Bratislava.
And after the dinner, as we are professionals, we went to see the gambling halls :) (Before they close them here). That’s why it is important we develop machines for Spain as soon as possible, because it is a huge market with 200 thousand machines.
The problem is that - like here in Slovakia, the law is strict, you have 17 different laws you cannot certify one machine for the whole Spain.
Which region of Spain is the most strict?
I would say Madrid, because you would need a special counter for the machine for example.
Are there any funny stories from the gambling business?
Of course there are many funny stories, as I have been in this business for 16 years :)
In 2006, a Spanish newspaper from the gambling business interviewed me and I said the future in Spain is video games and multi-game machines. And a lot of big manufacturers said that I wouldn’t stay more than 6 months in the market because I know nothing about the gambling business.
And one year later, the first video machines arrive on the market and it was clearly true what I said, also because I had worked in Germany before and knew it was coming.
You are probably attending a lot expos all around the world, which one you find the most interesting and why?
I have been to many exhibitions in South America, such as Argentina, Peru, Chile, Mexico, and then Las Vegas, Miami, Macau...
For me one of the most important shows is ICE Totally Gaming, because all the European manufacturers are there and it is the most important show for Spain, and also for Czech Republic or Slovakia.
The Las Vegas show is mostly for South Americans and I have been there too many times - probably around 30 times, and it used to be nice to be there, but not so much anymore. You have to visit all these casinos and it gets crazy.
But one of the best shows I have been to was in Panama, because they start at 2 o’clock and finish at 8, so it’s only 6 hours. Not like in Madrid where they start at 10 and finish at 8, which is 10 hours and that’s a bit too much. But ICE Totally Gaming and Panama are my favorites.
Which game of SYNOT Games you like the most and why?
Alchemist‘s Gold and Moonlight Fortune. I like these two in particular and they were also presented on the last ICE. I saw it on some VLT machine and the Spanish people really liked it as well. So I think it will be very successful on this market, however, we will have to make small changes and adjustments regarding the design.
And now with SYNOT Games preparing many more games, and we have some ideas together, I am pretty sure in Spain the future will be bright for SYNOT Games.
What is the craziest / weirdest slot game you’ve ever seen or played?
The craziest slot games and machines are definitely in Las Vegas. I remember one game with a very big shark...:)
You see many crazy games in LV based on movies - branded games, and some of them are around 5 meters high. It’s really crazy and you really see people go crazy there…
What is in your opinion the future of casino gaming?
In my personal opinion when people say online gaming will defeat casino gaming, I disagree. Look, people play online, they learn how to play a game and if they like it, they go to a casino, they enjoy playing together.
For example Brazil will soon be one of the biggest markets in the world. In the past, they used to have a lot of illegal machines at the market, but now the law is changing and it I think it will soon become one of the biggest markets in the world. I believe casino gambling is part of it, but of course it depends on the games, on the mathematics…
It is important to realize that while in the past it was all about „income income income“, these days we don’t sell machines, we sell entertainment.
It’s about long-time players. In the past people used to put 50 Euros in and in a few seconds or minutes they lost the 50 Euro. We have to make sure that people are long-time players.
And this is my personal opinion – I’d like people to not lose more than €10–15 in an hour. Let’s say the gambling hall is opened for 20 hours a day. If the revenue is €10-15 per hour, how much is it for 20 hours? So that’s why I like people to play the machines, have wins, spend money, but at the same time, I don’t want people to lose so much.
Because when you lose, $200-300 in one hour, you leave, and might never come back again. It has to be more about entertainment.
But I am pretty sure online and casino - they can work together.
What are the hopes and plans for SYNOT Spain in 2017 / 2018?
Well, plenty of things :) I hope we will hire some new people and in the beginning of next year we will start developing AWP, with the full HD, also VLT with full HD and new cabinet Eclipse.
Like we saw earlier this year in Madrid, people really liked the Eclipse cabinet.
And I’m pretty sure we will expand soon with a lot of new machines and also new games provided by SYNOT Games. We had a very important meeting here and to be honest it is not as easy as I thought, as I am more focused on business development and not a technical guy. Clearly it will be very difficult and will take a lot of time to create these platforms. But I really believe this cooperation will be a success.