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10 years of raising standards together at KPMG eGaming Summits
Russell Kelly, Managing Partner of KPMG in the Isle of Man, looks back over 10 successful years of KPMG eGaming Summits
What was the motivation behind establishing the KPMG eGaming Summits?
As a firm, we had been following the sector and working with various eGaming firms from the mid-2000s and felt there was an opportunity to produce a regular event in response to the increased interest and business flow generated by eGaming. There was relatively little industry knowledge at that time in the wider Isle of Man business sector and we saw the Summit as a way of contributing to education on what was a new and emerging area.
Little did we know when planning that first Summit 10 years ago that the Isle of Man eGaming sector would come to represent a large part of the global industry. Nor that the Summit would grow to become a key event within the eGaming calendar in Gibraltar and Malta as well as the Isle of Man, collectively attracting over 1,000 attendees each year.
How have you seen the industry evolve over the past 10 years and how has the Isle of Man responded?
The Isle of Man placed itself perfectly as an attractive place for business and was chosen by companies as a cooperative and communicative jurisdiction. The fact that the island was home to some of the global industry cornerstones such as Microgaming, Neteller and Continent 8 was a great help as they promoted the island to their client base and the Isle of Man was seen as the ‘jurisdiction of choice’ where businesses flourished.
The island is still a fantastic place to base your business but each year brings new challenges for the industry. The island has had to adapt to ensure it kept up with the challenges and competition from other jurisdictions. We have seen more consolidation over the latter half of the decade, demonstrated by various mergers of businesses looking to reduce overheads and expand their operations globally. There has been some turbulence with a few operations moving to other jurisdictions but we still see opportunities within the sector which is ever evolving.
How has regulation transformed the industry, particularly on the island?
In 2010, regulation was very much centered on where the operator was based and not where the customer was based. Today we are in an environment of multiple markets, all individually licensed, so operators now have multiple licences. Speaking to industry leaders on our 2019 operator panel, the impact of regulation was highlighted as a defining factor in the last decade and one that the industry feels it has dealt with competently.
How have technological advances impacted the industry?
The mobile phone has to be one of the most visible - the speed of evolution to what we have at our disposal today is frightening. This has enabled the rapid rise of mobile sports betting, which was only launched a couple of months before our first eGaming Summit at the 2010 South African football World Cup. This technology has allowed the development of in-play betting which has revolutionised sports betting.
How have the eGaming Summits positively changed the industry?
Something that has taken us all by surprise is how the KPMG eGaming Summits have been used as a platform to contribute positive messages into the industry and how industry has embraced and run with them. I’m thinking particularly of work with responsible gambling bodies such as GamCare and BeGambleAware.
The best example I can give from the past decade has to be the push for diversification within the industry. Although the journey started earlier, it was at a 2016 eGaming Summit where the diversity initiative for the gambling and betting sector was formed, aiming to bring together and give a voice to the different groups working to promote diversity in the sector under the #WeAllWantToPlay banner.
Finally, what lies ahead for the next 10 years?
Everybody is aware that we are operating in a different arena than we were 10 years ago. I see regulation continuing to broaden geographically and evolve with technology. Further consolidation amongst operators and developers is a given, as are various tax legislative changes, so it will continue to be challenging.
That said, I still see the opportunity for growth from within the Isle of Man but there may be some blips along the way as consolidation leads to corporate changes. We have to be slightly more creative to ensure we grasp the opportunities, possibly even expanding eGaming into eTech. The island launched its blockchain offering earlier this year and there is real growth in both start-up and established tech companies on the island. The eGaming sector will also continue to drive the development of, and investments in, our tech skills and infrastructure.
As a firm, we are extremely proud of what we have achieved through the eGaming Summits and we will continue to invest and develop specialist areas right here on the Isle of Man, ensuring we’re ahead on the technology curve ready to assist both our current and future clients.