Born and raised in Portugal with her parents and her sister, Liliana Costa learned linguistics and European studies in Porto Modern University. Passionate, curious and with different interests, she was also trained in art, music, ballet and gymnastics. In 2004, she moved to the UK to work in the oil & gas industry, with particular focus on Africa. During that period, she developed her skills on public policy in complex sectors in challenging markets.
In 2013, she joined Clarion Gaming, and immediately got immersed in the gaming world, with special attention on Latin America and the Caribbean. Part of the ICE team, she led the launching of relevant events, such as BgC-Brazilian Gaming Congress and Juegos Miami. Now, she is LatAm Liaison at Clarion Gaming and VP of Latin America at Spectrum Gaming Group. About her concept on the industry, she recalls: “I remember a friend of mine telling me during a conversation: ‘Oh, you are an Aquarius, so you need to change waters from while-to-while.’ I am not a horoscope person, but it describes me quite well. And that’s why I loved the industry: it is in constant movement, change, progress, innovation, ideas; an industry where we are continuously learning and evolving. It’s really a privilege to work with an amazing group of professionals, in a fantastic show (ICE) and region.”
In relation to her first impression on the sector, she comments: “I was coming from a male dominated industry in a complex region, so I was not intimidated by the gaming segment. My first day working for Clarion Gaming was at ICE London 2013 and I fell in love. It was ideal: I learned a lot in the conferences, I had the opportunity to witness the team onsite (I was impressed by their efficiency and the grandiosity of ICE London), not to mention that I had the honor (and advantage) of meeting with numerous regulators and operators from Latin America. I knew I have entered a very interesting world then….and here I am now!”
LEGALIZING GAMBLING IN BRAZIL
As a Portuguese, Liliana says they all have a weird connection to Brazil (maybe, because of telenovelas!). She was shocked to learn that Brazil was not full of casino resorts. She knew how much casinos motivate tourism in Portugal. Because of that, she felt motivated to bring the conversation about gambling in Brazil to the table. She likes to think that her best contribution to the industry so far has been to facilitate the debate about the legalization and regulation of gambling in Brazil.
This executive remembers the first discussions in that sense. “When we (Clarion Gaming) launched BgC in 2013, conversation was about ‘why Brazil should legalize gaming?’. Now, we talk about best practices, sports betting, casinos, and more. There has never been so much legislative effervescence around this topic like in recent months. Advances are slow, yes, but Brazil has been taking enormous steps towards a safer industry since then,” she states.
In addition, she highlights the value of the professional and personal connections she has made over the years. “In 2017, when Spectrum Gaming Brazil was born, I met an amazing group of industry experts who I greatly admire, and their expertise and regulatory knowledge were ideal for current regional needs. I couldn’t wait to jump on the opportunity to work with them. The most interesting and intelligent people passed through my life since I joined gaming and I confess that I’ve made some long-term friends along the way too,” she admits.
INCLUDING MORE FEMALE TALENT
When considering the increasing role of women in the industry, Costa explains women are increasingly expanding in the world of gaming, as professionals, experts and bettors. They’ve played key roles in transforming their own organizations, being diversity champions and raising concern about minorities in the entire gaming sector.
That’s why she assures: “We have seen topics of diversity and inclusion evolve over the last few years from a truly niche to the mainstream, in relation to all major forms in the gambling sector. Although some women have been included in the companies’ boards, these places are still male- dominated. Clarion Gaming itself has done amazing work around this issue, with projects such as Influential Women in Gaming or Ascend.”
Liliana sends a welcoming message to women who want to break into the industry and establish themselves as business partners. She understands a change is in motion, and that a higher number of women in leadership roles can result in more female talent coming to the industry. Looking beyond research, usually, more diversity leads to more innovation. “It is a process that, in my view, requires a social change, so it won’t happen overnight,” she points out.
BEING DESCRIBED BY OTHERS
Knowing describing oneself could be a hard task, she asked people how they would define her personally and professionally. Her clients said: “She has a very strong contact network in the industry, great sense of organization and knows how to bring relevant people together.” Her colleagues and employer were more precise and punctual: “Connected, kind and dedicated.” What about their friends and family: “Liliana is kin, adventurous and with a dark sense of humor.”
Chatting about her balance between work and leisure, she expresses: “I am not married nor have children (I have an amazing nephew though), so I have the freedom to enjoy the best that life has to offer, usually the simple things. Besides, working Latin American hours, in London, allows me exactly that. I find some spare time in the mornings to catch-up on housework, exercise, go to appointments or even just enjoy an early walk. I am not going to lie: sometimes, I do work during the weekends if I feel inspired, but I am most likely rock climbing with friends or walking through the Hackney canals.”
INTERESTS, ACTIVITIES AND ASPIRATIONS
In terms of her passions, interests and hobbies, she mentions to love rock climbing (“living in that little bubble between my hands, feet, the view and the rock!”) and visiting new places (“even if it is just grab the best friend and go somewhere on a camping trip in the wilderness, or the beach”), which is great when you live in a fast-paced city like London. Of course, spending quality time with her family is also important, so she tries to visit them often. They live in Aveiro, known as ‘the Portuguese Venice’. She enjoys this “Zen place” walking by the canals, the beach or watching sunsets over the ‘Salinas’ (saltpans).
About her future prospects and aspirations, she states she wants to focus on her family and her health. “Professionally, I am a great believer in strong relationships and communication, so I am working on several projects that will bring the industry, the regions closer. Latin America has put a lot on my hands, and I don’t want to disappoint. There will certainly be many constructive conversations about real effective solutions to some of the challenges the industry faces. With the regulation of online gaming happening across different jurisdictions in Latin America, the boom of Esports and some legislative advances, it will be a busy time and look at myself working very close with international and regional operators during the coming years. There will be exciting times,” she remarks with a big smile on her face.
Besides, taking a look at some powerful industry women, with amazing careers, and considering them as role models, Liliana expects to welcome more female talent into the gaming ecosystem, enhancing their leadership skills and networking with other like-minded women.
In one line
A book: “Viagens na Minha Terra – Travels in My Homeland” (Almeida Garrett, 1846)
A movie: I am sorry! but I love “Back to the Future” (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
Favorite music: ‘80s
A fragrance: wet grass after raining (not a perfume fan)
A place to live: still can’t decide! It could be Portugal (to be with my family), but also Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) or Mar del Plata (Argentina)
A place to go on vacations: Arctic Circle
A place for dining out: ‘Un Poco Loco’ (Mexican food restaurant in Aveiro, Portugal)
A meal: Portuguese Frango churrasco
A drink: Brazilian caipirinha
A sport: rock climbing
A teacher/mentor or main reference in your life: my parents