A buzzing show in the heart of the iGaming industry – (EEGReport – Magazine – Issue2 – February – May 2016)

EEGReport Magazine: Eman, Dennis, now I know you for a while. There is something about doing business with you, which I cannot quite explain. Business seems to flourish at SiGMA, and you guys have created a great informal networking environment. Can you shed light on the recipe to this success?

Far too kind with words, Zoltan! It seemed pretty obvious that there was a good opportunity for an igaming show to be held in Malta – this is a question that has actually been brewing in many igaming enthusiasts’ minds.  The infrastructure lends itself perfectly for such an expo, with affordable hotels, proximity to entertainment hubs as well as some 300 gaming companies in a five mile radius.

When Eman started this journey he approached some of the brightest, best connected people, including the government of Malta, to make this show a reality. A solid partnership with Dennis was soon established shortly after. Our backgrounds are different but complementing at the same time. For the sake of SiGMA, they match perfectly! Dennis is versatile with most reputable operators and affiliates.

Before going public with the project, the backing from a number of important stakeholders was essential, so we made sure that the likes of the Malta Gaming Authority, the Government of Malta, reputable operators and solution provides were on the same page as us.

We all agreed that the show should be all encompassing rather than focus on one area exclusively, such as regulation or affiliates. For the past number of years we have been noticing the three distinct pillars within the industry – solution providers, operators and affiliates – coming closer together. Today’s affiliate, for instance, is fast becoming a successful operator within months. With SiGMA we wanted to offer a 360° igaming showcase in Malta that reflects this trend.

EEGReport Magazine: Do you have plans to move the show to another city?

Malta has, over the years, built a healthy igaming ecosystem, meeting all industry needs. Today the island state offers a package that goes beyond ‘reputable jurisdiction’. The gaming industry in Malta has been strong for over twelve years now, with around 300 gaming companies, some 500 gaming licenses and a strong workforce of 10,000.

For these reasons we believe that the show should stay in Malta for the time being. SiGMA in Malta provides a unique opportunity for delegates to network with a rich industry that is already established on the island.
On a more tangible level, it is nice to see delegates taking some time during their trip to Malta to visit some of the gaming companies at their offices, or go out with affiliate managers for dinners. It is nice to see so many operators based in Malta going the extra mile to showcase their brand in Malta during SiGMA. Several Malta-based companies rely on the SiGMA platform to treat their employees to a gaming show – a feat that would otherwise be too costly overseas.

SiGMA is also an ideal for companies based outside Malta to do B2B shopping in Malta – meet accountants, the regulator, recruit talent. Let’s not forget that the country also offers a company tax regime of 5% based on a rebate scheme, which is very attractive for high earning companies. C-level executives also benefit from advantageous personal tax incentives.

Malta is also a pleasant place to live in, with 300 days of sunshine, a rich history and culture. Weather wise, autumn is the ideal season to host a B2B show in Malta. The rest of Northern Europe starts freezing, while delegates in Malta can still top up their tan, enjoy a swim or a ride on a jet ski in the warm Mediterranean Sea.

With so much activity going on in Malta, it makes perfect sense for any igaming enthusiast to book a flight and a number of meetings throughout their stay. SiGMA simply provides an ideal backdrop for networking. It came as no surprise to us that, following last year’s SiGMA, some of the delegates decided that opening an office branch in Malta was a good idea. The networking and sales potential is very good here.

EEGReport Magazine: Can you tell us what’s in store for the SiGMA team come 2016?

SiGMA remains a ‘works in progress’ and we have big plans for 2016, summarised here:

  1. A seminar in collaboration with Clarion Events during Ice Totally Gaming
  2. A SIGMA Pitch during SiGMA16
  3. Chartered flights incentives during SiGMA16
  1. ICE is an undisputed heavyweight, not only in Europe, but worldwide. Last year we were surprised to notice a number of top affiliates shopping around the booths at ICE and felt that we could contribute the following year, in the industry’s best interest. As a result we have penned a number of good quality topics come February 2016. We are always happy to collaborate with different partners – this has been our mantra since the day we took off.

The gap between the two pillars – affiliates and operators – has been shrinking constantly, with reduced barriers to entry. It used to cost a fortune to set up a white label site, but these days many affiliates are finding it easier to cross over.

There is never a dull moment in the industry, with so many mergers, acquisitions as well as new innovations entering and revolutionizing the market – IOT, gamification, cryptocurrency and blockchain, games of skill, e-sport, fantasy sport; affiliates who manage to find the right pitch are in for a good time. They must be willing to adapt their managerial style, consider relocating to more favourable environments in terms of recruitment and taxation.

To this extent, we have brought to this show some of the brightest minds in the industry who can speak from first hand experience, leaving no stone unturned for the several aspiring operators out there. It will be an opportunity to meet mentors, network and establish long-term working relationships.

  1. We have also noticed that a great deal of innovative ideas fail to make it to the next stage due to lack of funding. Thanks to SiGMA, we are in a position to connect innovative minds with serious entrepreneurs and igaming veterans. To this extent we are in a position to launch the “SiGMA Pitch”, a three-hour session taking place during SiGMA16 where innovators will have the opportunity to present their ideas to a captive audience of ‘hungry sharks’, investors who have money to invest.
  1. A good show is also dependent on the quality of the delegates. Furthermore, it is important for exhibitors to meet new delegates, new affiliates, new C-level executives. There is little more annoying than meeting the same faces year after year. To this extent, we are happy to announce that we’re chartering four flights from some of the best jurisdictions in Europe – including the likes of Tel Aviv and London. We will be spending the next ten months hand picking the right talent – and offer a crowd of 600 affiliates and C-level executives a trip to SIGMA – flights and transfers on us! This will guarantee that exhibitors, delegates walk out of SIGMA satisfied.

May we add, if anyone out there is interested in a speaking opportunity at one of the SiGMA panel discussions, they can contact us before June 30th, 2016.

EEGReport Magazine: Would you like to add anything in conclusion?

 Given space considerations and a much bigger demand, booths will be stacked next to each other, creating a cosier atmosphere and making it relatively easy for delegates to stroll from one stand to another.  It’s safe to say that over the past year the SiGMA expo floor provided value to all of its exhibitors, in terms of new business leads and brand awareness.

The SiGMA goal, ultimately, is to bring together the entire gaming community, from affiliates and operators through to regulators and vendors. If you’re looking at an exciting show where this industry can meet, learn and do business, look no further; SiGMA16 ticks all these boxes.