iGB Diary: iGaming Super Show, Lads-Coral, Bettingjobs survey, Fantasy home truths

26 June 2015

Apologies for the tardiness of the Diary this week but with the iGaming Super Show keeping us busy we were not able to make the deadline this morning (ok, hangover is massive and writing anything seems like an impossible task). Thanks to all involved for a great event; exhibitors, sponsors, speakers and organising team!

Super Show feedback  
It’s always interesting listening to feedback from delegates and exhibitors as the 2015 edition of the iGaming Super Show in Amsterdam came to a conclusion yesterday. Most of it was very positive and early figures suggest 2015 exceeded last year’s visitor numbers. All good, on a different tone; a number of contacts thought there weren’t enough affiliates at the show. In terms of pure affiliate numbers this could well be true when compared to the London or Barcelona (Berlin this year of course) events, although it’s important to point out that if there are more non-affiliate delegates than previously, it is simply because the show is much more than just an affiliate event; the B2B side keeps on growing while the content covers top level executive issues, latest tech-digital marketing trends, betting and acquisition strategies etc. Of course executives are there to network and do business but information gathering and discovery are also constantly encouraged. And for affiliate-only events the Berlin and London conferences are coming up in October and January respectively. 

The corporate news this week has of course been dominated by the potential merger between Gala Coral and Ladbrokes. Many in the igaming sector seem to believe ‘some kind of deal’ will happen, the key question being what a merged entity would look like once corporate structure, shareholder value, debt and competition issues have been dealt with. That final topic might not be the most enthralling of all those that are bound to crop up in the coming weeks, but it will play a defining role in how long a deal might take to come together. The proposed merger may be referred to the UK Competition and Markets Authority to look into (including online competition issues), which will mean a statutory consultation period of eight weeks before any decision. If it goes against there will be another two or three more weeks of back and forth between all parties – which could move the whole thing to phase 2 and lead to a 24-week inquiry, with public submissions from industry stakeholders, i.e. William Hill and other competitors, who of course will be seeking to make sure the deal doesn’t happen. So all in all we’re looking at 10 to 12 months before any kind of completion. The rationale for a deal between the two groups is clear, especially when it comes to online, but Ladbrokes will likely have to wait another year before it can look to growth, scale and all-round progress in that key vertical. As one contact commented wryly, “really makes you wonder what Ladbrokes have been doing for the past five years…”

Job description shocker
Salary surveys are always good, they provide an overview of average wage levels in a particular sector and give a good idea of where one is on the corporate ladder - as an employee, employer or recruitment specialist; although Bettingjobs did have a word over our news covering the release of its igaming salary survey. The article opened with this classic: “Gambling-specific recruitment job board Bettingjobs…" Lovely job description if we ever saw one (do job boards still exist?, Ed). And fair play to Bettingjobs, the Glasgow-based recruiters took it in good humour and we had a good laugh about it at the Super Show. We told them next time they'd be upgraded to 'online gaming temp specialists’.

Fantasy home truths 
Fantasy sports betting continues to attract as much interest as ever and this was apparent at the Super Show this week when the DFS-FSB panel convened as the final discussion of the Day 1 schedule. The topics ranged from the potential size of the market (massive) to whether DFS players could be turned into regular betting punters or vice-versa (jury’s out).  Much of the focus, understandably, was on the US market. Speaking of which, news that Disney’s $250m investment into DraftKings had been put on hold and the operator would instead become the official daily fantasy sports company across all platforms operated by US sports broadcaster and Disney subsidiary ESPN was placed into the context of US sports politics, by lobbyist and fantasy sports executive Joe Brennan: “The Disney news is a result of its lobbying against a Florida casino and it has now become an ad spend deal.” Just as important was the viewpoint that the vertical is still very much at the v1.0 stage and very much in land-grab mode, as Brennan reminded the audience: “DFS has not made a dollar in profit yet.” Meanwhile DraftKings is currently going through a UK licence application process with the Gambling Commission, this means a play for the UK is highly probable along with expansion into other EU markets.

Have a great weekend! (Now where's that Alka Seltzer?)