iGB Live! Day 1 round-up

19 July 2018

The inaugural iGB Live! kicked off in Amsterdam yesterday, picking up the mantle from iGaming Super Show, which ran annually in the same venue prior to the launch of the new consolidated show this year. 

Hannah Gannagé-Stewart rounds up some of the highlights from the new iGB Live! HQ, consisting of four streams; Hive, Counsel, Boardroom and Elevator.

Dutch remote gambling bill
Joop Pot, a member of the Netherlands Gambling Authority’s board of directors, kicked off the conference sessions at iGB Live! in the Boadroom.

Pot was responding to the Dutch Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker’s letter in June revitalising the longstanding bill.

Pot told iGB Live delegates a meeting of the Committee of Justice and Security on September 13 would provide the platform for the first formal parliamentary reaction to Dekker’s letter.

Pot said that the Netherlands Gambling Authority had identified “gambling advertising on gaming websites and vice versa” and insisted that whilst Dekker’s letter should “remove the main roadblocks” to long-awaited upper-house approval.

However, he made clear that it would be vital to “introduce greater barriers between social gaming and gambling” if the bill was to proceed.

Read yesterday's full report at iGamingBusiness.com: Dutch regulator outlines crunch month for legislation

A view to regulatory collaboration
The opening Counsel session of the show hosted European regulators from Malta, France and Romania and posed the hypothesis: “Country regulators will not be able to transcend their own interests and need to work across borders”.

Charles Coppolani, chairman of France’s ARJEL said there were opportunities for collaboration across EU regulators but was sceptical about there ever being harmonisation across multiple jurisdictions.

However, Rombet vice president Dan Illiovici seemed more hopeful of leveraging the common ground that exists across European regulatory environments. “It’s important to think big and start small,” he said.

“If we can go and start collaborating on specific issues, for example; player protection, crime, and advertising problems, then we can go further and become better at working together and we will become more and more aware of the fact that we are on the same side of the gambling industry”.

He went on to suggest that the historic resistance to standardising regulation was the result of fearful operators, worried that regulators would impose a regime they couldn’t, or don’t want, to adhere to.

Illiovici said Rombet regularly collaborated with other European regulators to draw up policy. Heathcliff Farrugia, CEO of the Malta Gaming Authority, was on such regulator.

He added that there were many areas on which regulators could collaborate, but that there would inevitably be some localisation in different countries, due to varying cultural sensibilities around gambling.

Despite this he said: “The fact that there is some localisation, shouldn’t stop us from collaborating. There is always a lot that is the same,” he concluded.

Clarion Gaming supersizes US event
Tuesday morning saw the launch of ICE North America, a brand new igaming event from Clarion Gaming that consolidates the much loved US-facing events, GiGse and ICE Sports Betting USA.

Clarion Gaming managing director Kate Chambers addressed delegates after a squad of cheerleaders opened the event on the show floor.

She said the event was an answer to requests from industry stakeholders and was another step in Clarion’s drive to reduce the number of events in the industry, while maintaining its track record of delivering the events that matter to the industry.

“ICE is my most valuable brand,” she said. “And one of the most revered not just in gaming but the entire exhibition space. Deploying the ICE brand outside of London is a big decision and one I haven’t taken lightly”.

The launch follows the repeal of PASPA in the US earlier this year, and the launch of Sports Betting USA in New York last year.

Opportunities in eSports
Pinnacle CEO Paris Smith shared her ten year experience in eSports betting on a counsel panel about the future of the vertical.

Responding to the hypothesis ‘eSports will exceed football in fan base, it’s time to take it seriously’, she pointed out that Ninja from Fortnight already exceeded Ronaldo on lists of the most popular sportspeople, and added that with Twitch gaining popularity esports is only set to grow.

Yury Kolesnik, CEO at betting exchange PVP.ME, argued that traditional operators have a harder time entering the esports market because players and fans tend to be sceptical of big brands attempting to access the scene with little or no experience in it.

He said it’s crucial to understand the nuances of the esports community and to build a dedicated team to serve it. “The epsorts community is very closed. They are very much the outsiders.

“There would be a backlash if big operators tried to advertise esports offerings, you need to grow your businesses from inside the community,” he explained.

“They want to feel that companies that are making money out of the them, put something back”. Despite this he said esports presents a real opportunity to leverage existing sports products if it’s approached properly.

Demonstrating the scale of the opportunity, Smith said that esports was Pinnacle’s fastest growing sport month-on-month and had achieved 100% growth every year in nine years it had been part of the operator’s offering.

Battling negative perceptions
Former Ladbrokes CEO Richard Glynn and 12bet boss Rory Anderson took to the floor on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the industry’s on-going battle with negative media coverage.

Glynn said it would never be possible to get the media to write positive headlines about gambling, but argued the desired outcome would be “no headlines”.

Anderson credited SkyBet for their initiative to feature the ‘When the fun stops, stop’ slogan on their shirt sponsorship, but this assertion was countered by an audience member who described the use of SkyBet’s own branding alongside the responsible gambling message as an “own goal for the industry”.

Glynn said the industry was “Waking up to the fact that it has to do more” but that it wouldn’t change overnight. “We want to make money”, he added.

“There’s nothing wrong with making money as long as a quarter of it is ploughed back in to make sure accountability, transparency, regulation, we take the lead on addition counselling. So long as we’re making money and doing it that way, maybe in ten years’ time we’ll see an impact”.

Related articles: International operators target re-regulated Sweden
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Dutch regulator details crunch month for legislation
Clarion Gaming unveils ICE North America