The ninth Eastern European Gaming Summit (EEGS), held in Sofia, Bulgaria at the end of November, has once again proven to be the nexus linking experts, professionals, representatives of land-based and online gaming in the region. Organised by the Bulgarian Trade Association of Manufacturers and Operators in the Gaming Industry (BTAMOGI), the agenda emphasized on providing updates on regulation, compliance, innovation and disruptive technologies. More than 230 visitors joined the conference, 14 discussions were held with speaker line-up of 60 distinguished experts. According to the feedback received from its regular delegates that was the most successful and beneficial of all editions so far.
Angel Iribozov, Chairman of the Bulgarian Trade Association of Manufacturers and Operators in the Gaming Industry (BTAMOGI) and Ognemir Mitev, Chairman of the Bulgaria’s State Commission on Gambling, performed the official opening of the event. In his opening speech Angel Iribozov pointed out that the gaming industry is stable and the revenues in the state budget are exceeding the expectations and guarantee the stability. According to Ognemir Mitev, the conference serves as a great opportunity to exchange information and good practice on the manufacturing, operations and regulatory aspects of the gaming business. Local companies and operators showed great interest in the conference that proved once again their open-mindedness about the European experience in all topics, related to developments in the gaming industry.
The seasoned consultant Andrew Tottenham, followed the official opening with a keynote presentation based on important issues such as what could be the future of cash and why big banknotes might be on a way out, influenced by two main pressures – money-laundering and financing terrorism. One of the main trends that will influence the industry and the cash flow is that governments are trying to cracking down on anti-money laundering.
The regulatory changes and challenges in Europe were the most debated issues during the first day of the summit. As there are different regulations in every country, which keep evolving, the beneficial discussions led to more understanding of the various markets for the delegates. The first regulatory update session was dedicated to the recent developments in European jurisdictions, such as Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Malta and Greece and Cyprus. One of the hot topics in the industry now are the upcoming changes in the legislation of Malta. Joseph Borg, Senior Advisor in the leading Maltese law firm WH partners, made a peak into to the new regulatory regime: “We still don’t know all the details, nothing has been published yet, but we know from the discussion and comments during past industry events in Malta in November, is that there are going to be a B2B and B2C license, so whoever currently have a class A license will be shifted to B2B license and whoever has any form of license 1, 2, 3 – those will be shifted to B2C license. One of the biggest problems of the Maltese regulatory regime has been always the class of the licenses, so in order to use many casino games from different suppliers you needed to get separate licenses – this will be completely erased.”
During the second session, legal experts presented regulatory updates about the Eastern European countries such as the Czech Republic, Romania, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria. Of a great interest in the region is the Romanian market, which has a very dynamic year in terms of licensing after the adopted second legislation in February 2015.
“Novelties in the Romanian legislation compared to other jurisdictions are that the supplier licenses are not required only for software and platform providers, also for marketing affiliates, also for payment processors as they are regulated as a financial service supplier. They will get a 10-year license, the process to get a license is significantly easier than for the operator, but they need a license, they need to pay a fee, which is 6 000 euros per year plus a contribution to a foundation, which has the role to fight gambling addiction”, stated Cosmina Simion, Co-Head of Gaming at NNDKP.
A detailed Q&A session on the EU anti-money laundering enforcement and implementation was led by Dr. Simon Planzer, Lecturer in Law at the University of St.Gallen, Switzerland and practicing at his firm Planzer Law, with the participation of Bertil Vagnhammar, Policy Officer at the European Commission, DG Justice and Consumers.
„Before adopting the Directive the regulations were only intended for casinos. Now, all segments of the industry are covered. The Directive must be implemented in all EU countries by 2017”, stated the moderator and expert in EU law Dr. Simon Planzer. He shared also that until the Directive was adopted the money laundering was a problem of the national authorities, now it has become a European problem.
Knowing that of a great importance to the sector is facing challenges to keep the business crime free, a thorough analysis on important aspects was made during the module.
“One is to emphasize the risk-based approach that we have for this Directive, so it is not a rule-based approach, it is a risk-based approach on four different levels – it’s a European level, national, the obliged entities like gambling operators, who might be also the best position to make risk assessments, because they know the business much more than governments or the EU Commission and the forth level of risk assessment would be the supervisors, who also should focus on areas where the risks are the greatest. The second issue to highlight when it comes to our priorities is that we would like to improve the cooperation between financial intelligence units, so that is both the cooperation and exchange of information between them. Third thing and that might also be in view of the Panama revelations that we have seen as well, we have added a tax crimes as a predicate offense to money laundering to the fourth directive that was not there before. The fourth thing on general remarks, I would highlight the sanction regime that we have strengthened the sanction regime, that will be transposed in the EU member states”, shared Bertil Vagnhammar regarding the main aspects of the EU Commission in the revision of the 4th AML Directive.
The important topic of responsible gaming was highlighted during the press conference with media representatives.
“We must educate all the participants in the industry in order to protect the final consumers”, said Dr. Joerg Hofmann, Senior Partner, Melchers Law Firm, former president of the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL). The education is of great importance in meaning that casino revenues in Europe are exceeding 4 billion euros and the trend is to increase even more, explained Carlo Pagan, General Director of the Casino Campione D’Italia and Vice President of the European Casino Association.
“It becomes even more important with the development of technology and its entering in the sector. The education takes time, but the results will be presented soon” explained Rossi McKee, a member of the board of BTAMOGI. The influence of technology innovations used in the gaming industry was discussed during the second day of the conference. “Sometimes technology and innovations in the gaming industry are way ahead of the regulations”, Angel Iribozov said.
During the traditional IMGL Masterclass, the bright minds that represented the association, reviewed the issues of licensing and taxation in offshore jurisdictions versus the regulated onshore markets.
“There a lot more challenges that opportunities for those operators currently targeting the European market and the manner in which the European market is evolving right now. The cost associating with running a successful operation in one of those countries is immense and when you couple that with some of those jurisdictions putting a tax rate, which are nonsensical, what you are going to end up with a restricted number of operators within the particular market. Those operators will try to survive, but in order to so, what are they going to offer to the consumer is not the best possible offering and finally the fact that unfortunately you cannot restrict the unlicensed offering which will carry on targeting a particular jurisdiction. And the pity is that we have examples what are successful models of regulation and operation like Denmark, Italy, the UK, but some still are not doing it right.”, stated Trevor De Giorgio, Head of International Legal Compliance at Greentube Malta.
The compliance in emerging European markets has always been a key industry topic and the speakers succeeded to present the matter in all possible angles, explaining the standards and factors in the process of certification in various jurisdictions. Leading experts have presented the main factors of the process to evidence compliance in markets such as Poland, Portugal, Lithuania, Romania and Czech Republic. The compliance session was opened with a brief presentation about the technical requirements by Gert Telkamper, Client Services Manager for Europe, Gaming Laboratories International.
Afternoon hours of the first conference day were dedicated to most influential trends that shape the rapidly evolving gaming market. At the panel “Casino floor of tomorrow”, led by Arjan Kortjens, Lecturer of Totally Gaming Academy, panel speakers agreed that land-based casino gaming is closely linked to the innovative technologies and it is crucial for operators catch up with the latest trends and to adapt, especially with the interest of the Millennials.
Having in mind the trends that influence the gaming industry, there was a special session during EEGS on channelization of gaming experience. As the omni – channel is of an incredible interest lately, experts in the field revealed the magic formula for making it successful. Main benefits that were outlined by the seasoned speakers is that omni-channel is strategy to retain customers, increase their lifetime value and the intelligence that we have so far that shows actually being online is an opportunity, not a threat. As the online casinos gain more popularity with every year to come and virtual reality enters with big steps in the industry, a time will come when players would be able to stay home with their glasses on, entering the casino without even leaving their armchairs.
In terms of product development and the experience of the player on multiple channels, David Johnson, Chief Commercial Director of NYX, stated: “We have seen an explosion in instant win games and scratch games recently. In terms of how we build games – we started out way back when by building our games in flash and then converting to html5. We learned very quickly that player is not that stupid and you have got to build the device and certainly we have seen that with offline, in the shops – you cannot just modify a game that has been built up for online to a shop, because it has different regulations, different math model and restrictions. You have to build each saturation for each device, for each audience and that is the biggest challenge for suppliers”. Gerard El Allaf, International Business Development Director at GAMING1, has added about the success of games “This is the strategy we apply and we believe it’s a key success factor. A game that is already popular in the land-based has really big chances to be a success online as well.”
The evening has served as a great opportunity for networking between attendees and speakers during the traditional EEGS Networking Party, sponsored by Gaming Laboratories International and followed by the Royale Palms Casino Afterparty, where special poker and blackjack tournaments with prizes were organized for the guests.
For the third consecutive year, EEGS hosted the initiative Global Gaming Women. It was held first in the morning during the second conference day as a preceding event of both EEGS and BEGE Expo. The session brought together industry women for special networking and a motivational conversation with which to start the busy show day. Selected female leaders discussed women’s career challenges and how the trends in gender equality have changed in the recent years.
Industry experts from the region discussed the rising opportunities in the Balkans and presented the current market state at Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Greece, Serbia and Macedonia. Key aspects were covered such as favorable circumstances, key strategies for a successful market entry, what challenges each market is currently facing and the possibilities that the future could bring.
During the second day of the conference, the panel “The Newcomers” observed the influential issues regarding trendy sports that target the younger generations, especially the Millennials. In the spotlight for the Daily Fantasy Sports session were Jeffrey Haas, Chief International Officer of the fastest-growing company in the field – DraftKings and Benjamin Carlotti, Managing Director of the leading fantasy football site – Oulala.
In regard of the potential for DFS in Eastern Europe, Jeffrey Haas has shared:
“There is a great potential for DFS in Eastern Europe as well as around the rest of the world. The fact is, our addressable audience is sport fans and there are everywhere – people love football across Eastern Europe. We are also seeing the emergence of a number of operators already. I know that there is one operator licensed is Serbia, we are expecting an operator in the Czech Republic to launch early in January and hopefully in time DraftKings comes to the region and is able to build a very successful business.”
The second part of the panel was about the interesting matters in the eSports sector, which is also a buzz in Europe, but still new for the regional markets with a great potential for rapid growth in the upcoming year or two. The category of the product and how both DFS and eSports should be regulated has been an essential aspect of the discussions during the panel. All speakers agreed that there is still a gap between the business’ point of view and the regulatory bodies’ view. The upcoming changes in Malta were given as a good example of the proper perception of regulation.
The virtual and augmented reality are crucial part of a youngster’s life so experts in disruptive technologies analyzed the similarities and differences between them during the panel about the game changers, moderated by Konrad Gill. The co-founder of the first VR casino SlotsMillionVR.com – Alexander Tomic and Russell Mifsud, Senior Manager – Gaming at KPMG, led the participants through the brand new horizons that the virtual reality opens for the gaming industry.
Last, but not least was the session dedicated to financial partners of the gaming industry, which have presented the current state of the alternative payments sector in Eastern Europe and even Russia and an overview of issues and regulation examples of Bitcoin with possible legal models for settlement.
The Eastern European Gaming Summit has once again secured its strong position as a leading event in the region. The upcoming 10th anniversary edition, which will be held in November, 2017 will be surely, one not be missed, bringing together leaders and visionaries to positively shape the future of the rapidly evolving gaming industry.
For more information, please visit www.eegamingsummit.com or contact email@example.com
Event Reports: SiGMA raises the bar with mega successful show (EEGReport Magazine – Issue 5 – February – May 2017)
The third edition of SiGMA broke all records. The island has never witnessed an iGaming bonanza this spectacular, this successful: everyone walked out a winner. The organisers anticipated close to 3,000 attendees, with the final numbers edging 4,000, double last year’s numbers. This was clearly visible on the expo floor, which was extremely busy on both days.
The iGaming storm came to Malta on 16-19th November. The organisers behind SiGMA pulled off an impressive number of strategic partnerships, culminating in a much anticipated Malta Gaming Week, bringing the entire gaming community together; from affiliates and operators to regulators and vendors.
After receiving plenty of great feedback, this year’s summit saw some great upgrades, including the fact that over 300 affiliates flew to Malta for free, from the organisers’ own pockets. There are plans to reignite this idea with 300 fresh flights, but for new affiliates, thus injecting the show with “fresh attendee blood”.
Following last year’s overwhelming interest in conferences, the organisers switched to a bigger conference hall, with completely redesigned layout. Instead of standard theatre style setting, the room was set up cabaret style, with round tables, giving the attendees a better opportunity for discussion and networking.
Free standing lunch for all the delegates was also introduced on both days. It gave the attendees more time for business during those busy days.
The BiG Charity Dinner was brought to SiGMA for the first time as well, one day before the exhibition officially opened. It was a fantastic night of sports stories and brilliant entertainment, simultaneously raising money to enhance the quality of life of injured, sick or terminally ill individuals around the world, with a focus on the healing power of sport.
First edition of Malta Gaming Awards was held together with the BiG Foundation Dinner at the InterContinental Ball Room. 6 winners were chosen in the following categories:
Affiliate Of The Year – Winner: Game Lounge Limited
Careers Program – Winner: Tipico Careers
Corporate Responsibility – Winner: Maltco
Fastest Growing Operator – Winner: Evoke
Innovator – Winner: Join Games
Investor – Winner: Optimizer Invest
Among the other new events introduced during SiGMA16, the SiGMA Startup Pitch, brought together nine startups and seven investors under one roof. With so many investors wanting to join the gaming scene in Malta as well as worldwide startups, there’s never been a better time to launch this session. Real big names, including Morten Klein (Cherry Group), Ory Weihs (XLMEdia) and Carla Maree Vella from Optimizer Invest were among the investors grilling the start-ups.
Each startup had three minutes to present their project and then faced a seven minute session of Q&A from the investors and the audience in a Dragon’s Den-like environment. Despite initial fears, the format worked marvels, and not a single member from the audience was bored given fast paced session.
The winner of the first edition is Commologic, an innovative sports betting software provider based in Israel and licensed in UK, Malta and Denmark. Their first game, BetUP, the world’s first inplay betting cash tournament game, has recently gone live with Unibet and The Football Pools.
Preparations for SiGMA17 are already in full swing. The details on the next edition will be announced in early 2017, but booths are already selling fast. Stay tuned and check maltaigamingsummit.com for regular updates.
Innovation Talks: SBTech-Multi-Display Betting (EEGReport Magazine – Issue 5 – February – May 2017)
Two Sides of the Same Coin
There are two sides to the multi-display equation: multi-window and omni-channel. An online bookmaker needs to consider both elements, as well as the interactions between the two, in order to offer an enhanced, seamless experience, boosting brand loyalty and company profits.
First of all, it’s vital to take account of the differing psychologies and behaviors that apply to desktop, mobile and in-shop betting. Mobile UI/UX currently needs to be simpler and more streamlined than on desktop, while session time, bet propensity and stake amount vary significantly between channels: a player will spend more time and money on desktop or in-shop, but will place more bets within a shorter time-frame on mobile. An omni-channel strategy, therefore, shouldn’t be focused on building an identical experience across all touch-points, but on creating complementary journeys in order to add overall value.
There can still be space to offer exclusive mobile offers, for example, although creating special promotions to promote the omni experience is also a powerful marketing tool, considering that the growth in mobile betting, which already represents over half of most operators’ turnover, is certain to continue.
Window on the Future
Players tend to spend much more time researching bet types and statistics on desktop, usually opening multiple windows to research team news and previous performances, whereas mobile players naturally tend to be more impulsive.
This allows for much higher margins from mobile betting, but it’s important to note that future generations of mobile devices, especially tablets, will make much greater use of multi-window, with far-reaching implications. In other words, players will be able to spend more time researching their mobile bets, reducing overall frequency and potentially lowering margins. Gestural interface, especially on smart TVs, will also take off in the coming years, allowing for far more multi-window approaches than are currently possible.
The sheer ubiquity of an omni-channel experience serves to encourage repeat betting. Operators therefore need to consider how mobile can support, rather than supplant desktop and in-shop betting. Cash Out is the perfect example of this: many players choose to make their selections on desktop or in-shop, but then to follow the progress of their bets on mobile, opting to cash them out on-the-go, whether to lock in profits or limit losses.
A Cash Out feature should therefore be as flexible as possible, enabling the player to set the precise amount they wish to take off the table, while leaving the rest of the stake active. This provides that all-important sense of control, which is at the core of building brand loyalty and promoting repeat betting.
‘Fast markets’ in-play betting on what will happen in the next one or five-minute period of a live football match, tennis fast markets on next point and next game, and live basketball betting represent a rapidly growing sector, where mobile can also be a powerful complementary channel.
Offering live betting suggestions for an event on which a player has placed a pre-match bet is a proven means of increasing turnover through the kind of appropriate, non-intrusive personalisation that bettors have come to expect.
In-shop bettors generally spend long periods of time on the premises, and it’s essential to make better use of down-time by providing a wider range of products and experiences. For some, the period between major horse racing events, for example, is an opportunity to research betting possibilities. For other, younger players, it’s the ideal moment to engage in mobile-based social betting.
By integrating both of these mobile device activities with in-shop display units – TV and SSBTs – an operator stands to reap significant rewards. QR codes displayed on large in-shop screens will become increasingly significant as a means of directing players towards specific sites, and it’s therefore vital for operators to invest in the very best hardware.
The Name of the Game
Fully gamified sports betting experiences, involving extensive lists of achievements and rewards, as well as peer-to-peer challenges and social leagues, are looking likely to become a major element of the sports betting ecosystem in the years ahead. A small number of operators have already rolled out products of this type, designed to appeal to new generations of players who have grown up with online gaming.
These approaches are tailor-made for mobile, since they can be readily integrated with social media accounts and will increasingly depend upon real-time interactions with other players. In fact, social media is expected to play a greater part in achieving ultra-personalisation across the board. By tracking trending hashtags within a sports betting game frame, for example, betting suggestions based on the latest team and transfer news, or mirror-betting based on the selections of successful players, can be created.
eSports is also emerging as a major force within the online betting world. It’s fair to say that the sector is still in its infancy, and that the most popular competitive games titles still lack significant mainstream appeal. Game developers are certainly aware of this, and we anticipate the imminent launch of a slew of new games which will be of interest to very broad spectator demographics. In the interim, however, we should also be seeing greater sophistication in terms of bet types. For games such as “League of Legends”, where the action is spread across multiple locations within the game universe, multi-window and very fast markets could well prove to be lucrative areas for operators which have the vision to develop the required technologies.
More prominent integrations with statistics feeds will be increasingly demanded by players. Rather than accessing them through a separate tab, the use of pop-ups and widgets to display the information relevant to specific bets will become the norm. Such features could even include video clips, showing the recent goals scored by a particular player, for example.
Although multi-event streaming in different windows might sounds like a very attractive feature, in practice it has a couple of major downsides. Firstly, the performance of even a powerful desktop or laptop computer can be severely impacted by multiple streaming feeds. This also applies to graphical visualisations, and one major online bookmaker has recently moved away from a feature that offered up to eight simultaneous visualisation windows. However, this is likely to have been for a different reason: what’s sometimes known as the paralysis of choice, or what you could simply call information overload.
This is an important factor to consider when strategising and developing multi-display betting experiences. Although it’s tempting to say ‘the more the merrier,’ there’s a fine line between increasing opportunities to encourage bet placement and swamping players with too many possibilities, causing them to tune out or lose faith with a brand.
There’s an additional issue to consider when it comes to streaming. Because live TV is broadcast with a delay of anywhere between 5 and 20 seconds, data feeds can often announce a goal before the player has seen it on screen. Clearly the operator cannot add a delay to their price updates to sync with TV pictures, as that can open up an operator to abuse by players who are watching the game inside the stadium and have fast feeds. The smart operator, therefore, needs to deploy sophisticated player profiling to determine not only the location, but the previous behaviour and trustworthiness of each and every bettor to provide genuine punters with the best possible experience.
Words of Encouragement
In-play accas are likely to become a key element of the multi-window and omni-channel experience, offering players time-sensitive opportunities to win big payouts, with prompts delivered via pop-ups, push notifications and/or SMSs.
Personalisation plays a big part here. If a player has been identified as a regular favorites-backer, then a timely suggestion notifying him that five favorites are all currently at level-pegging in home games could prove to be a very appealing acca bet opportunity.
Such opportunities are tailor-made for enhanced acca promotions offering extra winnings, ideally on a sliding scale according to the number of selections. The important thing to remember is that although such features are generally automatic, meaning that there’s no need for an opt-in, the promotion still needs to flagged up. There’s no point offering enhanced winnings if the player isn’t aware of it!
Half-time casino betting for sports players is a well-established phenomenon, as are gamified elements such as double or nothing on sports bets. Encouraging such behavior can be achieved by incorporating widgets such as casino mini-games within the sports game frame, or by encouraging casino betting on mobile devices at key moments. The latter approach can be particularly effective, since players who are watching a live game on desktop or on a smart TV are likely to move away from their main screen during the break, whether to put the kettle on or simply to stretch their legs.
Top of the Shops
For the operator, the ideal customer interaction with an SSBT is defined by speed. Operators don’t want punters hogging a terminal for 30 minutes to place 3 bets and lose out on the business of 10 others. Although SSBTs generally do offer match statistics and visualisations, it’s clearly preferable to direct players’ attention towards big screen or mobile live action. This not only ensures greater operational efficiency, but increases bet propensity. A mobile device naturally feels more personal than a public terminal, and is therefore a far more appropriate channel through which to offer bet suggestions and bet management features.
The single electronic bet ticket represents another dimension of the omni experience that serves to reduce in-shop SSBT clogging. Retail operators do stand to lose the percentage of their revenues that derives from lost tickets, but on the flipside, customers will be feel better protected, increasing brand loyalty and overall betting frequency.
In the Lap of the Odds
An operator’s odds strategy needs to be carefully considered when providing a true omni-channel experience. In-shop prices, of course, are traditionally less competitive than online, but the ubiquity of mobile devices means that players naturally expect to be offered the same odds across all touch-points.
Mirroring retail odds online makes it much harder to stay competitive, however, whereas basing in-shop prices on online odds damages profitability.
Most retail operators, therefore, have their SSBTs managed by outside providers, meaning that they do, in fact, offer different prices within the same location, which inevitably has a negative impact on the appeal of omni.
The answer to this conundrum is transparency – being up-front about slight variations in pricing, and in fact making a virtue of them. By offering better prices to encourage in-shop players to place a bet on their mobile or an SSBT rather than over the counter, an operator can increase efficiency and expose the player to a greater number of time-specific and personalised promotions, especially on mobile.
What’s the Takeaway?
In a uniquely dynamic industry, where innovation is at the heart of staying ahead of the competition, every operator needs to be aware of all the latest trends and developments across the world of tech. The most successful bookmakers need truly joined-up thinking in order to take advantage of changing bettor behaviour, the demands of fresh demographics and new ways to enhance the overall omni and multi-window experiences they offer.
SBTech is the industry-leading provider of fully managed and semi-managed sports betting solutions and services in regulated markets, including its complete omni-channel offering and uniquely configurable Chameleon360 iGaming Platform.
The company’s sportsbook offers world-class coverage, including 2,000+ proprietary bet markets and multi award-winning live betting, featuring over 20,000 in-play events every month. SBTech employs over 750 people in eight global offices, including over 200 in-play traders working 24/7.
SBTech’s wealth of betting features, ranging from integrated enhanced winnings accas to flexible Cash Out, its expertise in developing gamified betting systems and its mastery of big data analysis for creating personalised betting journeys make it the platform provider of choice for a rapidly growing portfolio of over 50 international iGaming operators.
More info: http://www.sbtech.com/
Event Reports: SBC bringing a global perspective to sports betting industry (EEGReport Magazine – Issue 5 – February – May 2017)
As the sports betting industry settles after a year of major consolidation, SBC – Sports Betting Community is planning to provide the sector with the tools it needs to thrive in 2017.
SBC has grown considerably in the past few years as the sports betting industry responded positively to its services. Alongside its SBCNews.co.uk news portal, the company also offers sports betting consultancy work through its SBC Media brand. But it’s the SBC Events division that has really taken off with two established conferences, Betting on Football and Betting on Sports, complemented by the SBC Awards ceremony held at the end of the year.
“We’re bringing an international perspective to the sports betting industry at SBC this year,” explains SBC Founder Rasmus Sojmark. “We’ve had such a global audience attending our events, reading our news site and being up for our awards that we thought we’d acknowledge the fact by embracing the international nature of the sports betting business. We’ll be doing a much bigger global push on our events this year and also introducing some interesting new projects to the industry in 2017.”
The first of these initiatives is the brand new H20 Data – Sports Betting Seminar that is being held on the Sunday before the ICE Totally Gaming Show. SBC has teamed up with sports betting supplier BetConstruct to put on an evening discussing the importance of data to the sports betting industry.
Liverpool and England football legend John Barnes has been confirmed as a headline speaker at H20 Data. The two-time First Division and FA Cup winner with Liverpool will take centre stage as part of the post-dinner entertainment on Sunday 5th February at Whitehall Place. Barnes, who was capped by England 79 times, will be part of a Q&A session along with another big name from the sport, who is yet to be revealed.
Along with the appearance of football royalty, the invite-only seminar will address key questions around the speed, range and depth of data. BetConstruct will also be conveying the importance of its data services to sports betting traders, C-Level Management staff, Sportsbook Directors and Sportsbook Managers across the industry.
Among the subjects covered will be the management of risk, what to look for in a data feed and data for eSports. There will also be an opportunity to find out more about the Megafeed Live Scouting Data that BetConstruct provides to its partners. A panel discussion will also discuss how operators and punters are using data in a day to day capacity.
Starting at 6pm, the sports data seminar will combine presentations about sports betting data with high quality food, networking opportunities and a series of celebrity speakers for the 150 delegates in attendance. The event will officially end at 11:30 pm, but will be quickly followed by drinks and networking at the Royal Horseguards Hotel.
SBC Managing Director Andrew McCarron commented: “We’re trying something new this year with an event focusing exclusively on sports data ahead of ICE. We’ve already attracted a good crowd of people interested in finding out more about data and discussing its uses. It’s going to be an entertaining and interesting evening.
“There are three key things to take into consideration when it comes to data; it needs to be quick, it needs to be accurate and it needs to be robust. All three are vital components to a healthy data feed, which is as important to the sports betting business as water is to life – hence the name of the session.
“Of course there are always issues around the handling of data and filtering what is useful. That is perhaps the biggest challenge of all. The Sports Data seminar is the first of a new range of one-day targeted events from SBC this year, so this is an interesting development for us.”
A key philosophy at SBC is the power of networking for business. SBC’s origins are in networking evenings across Europe and one of its most successful events has been held in conjunction with iGaming Business for the past seven years.
The London Baby networking party is a free event held on the first Tuesday of the ICE conference and this year will be returning to Cafe de Paris on Leicester Square in central London. The free party provides a perfect opportunity for a more relaxed networking experience around ICE, although the free bar into the early hours also helps conversation. Almost 1,000 people attend the London Baby networking party every year, making it one of the biggest events around the ICE show itself.
One of the biggest developments for SBC this year is the evolution of its flagship Betting on Football Conference. This year will see the fourth incarnation of the conference and SBC is introducing some big changes to the format this year with a six-fold investment in the event.
Last year Sojmark promised to turn this 2017’s Betting on Football into ‘a bigger and better two-day event’. The decision to extend the conference was made after hugely positive feedback from the 2016 conference at Stamford Bridge, as well as the experience from the successful two-day Betting on Sports Conference held by SBC Events last September.
Both operators and suppliers were effusive in their praise for the Betting on Football concept. Simon Trim, CEO at Sporting Index, commented: “If you’re an operator or supplier and football is important to you, then this is the place where you need to come.”
Vahe Baloulian, CEO at BetConstruct, added: “It’s an opportunity to meet people that are in the same industry and learn from them. We are good at utilizing the knowledge gained from these conferences, and turning them into profitable opportunities for our partners.”
Tony Kenny, Head of Sponsorship at William Hill, reflected: “It’s been a fantastic day. A great chance to talk about sponsorships for William Hill, and show a lot of people what we do in terms of activation and the kind of sponsorships we’re involved in.”
Lennart Gillberg, Founder at Spiffx, said: “In our business if you get one or two new contacts, that can make a big difference for your business. I met a couple of guys here who are really going to push our business forward.”
Mark Davies, Head of New Business at Leicester City, the reigning Premier League champions, said: “This conference is beneficial for everyone, and these opportunities don’t arrive very often.”
Such positive feedback has encouraged SBC Events to push the boat out this year. McCarron explained: “This year’s Betting on Football will be our fourth and we are taking on board some of the lessons that we learned from Betting on Sports last September, as that was our biggest event to date.
“We’re putting on world class hospitality for around 800 delegates and providing unlimited networking and business opportunities, exhibition and product display, as well as top class sessions from 100 leading industry speakers.
At its core is now a two day conference with two main streams and a breakout room, as well as an international audience. We have broken these down into four tracks – Leadership, Market Profile, Marketing & Media, and Trading and Operations.”
This year’s Betting on Football is also a more international affair, with countries represented from far and wide, meaning the cream of the global sports betting business will be heading to Stamford Bridge in May.
The exhibition area has been transformed and now takes up most of the Great Hall at Stamford Bridge, while the two major networking parties are at the sensational Kensington Roof Gardens and Under The Bridge nightclub. SBC has also introduced networking gatherings either side of the main conference so the event actually stretches across four days – 2-5 May.
McCarron added: “The level of people there will also be extremely high – we have a dedicated evening for C-Level executives as well as a specific dinner for invited affiliates. It also has a much larger international contingent. For instance, from Italy we have the regulator AAMS attending, as well as tier 1 operators like SNAI, and also major clubs like AS Roma and AC Milan. These are just examples of how Betting on Football has become a global conference, with operators, regulators and sports organisations attending from across the world.”
The C-level and affiliate dinners are an embodiment of the greater focus that SBC places on networking at its events. The evening of 3 May sees a major networking party at Kensington Roof Gardens, one of London’s most spectacular party venues, owned by Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson.
The evening itself contains three different elements – the main Betting on Football networking party and the two invite-only dinners. This is followed up on the second evening with another high class networking party at the Under the Bridge, Roman Abramovich’s personal nightclub on the grounds of Stamford Bridge, giving delegates the very best opportunities to make connections with key members of the sports betting industry.
Betting on Sports will also be making a return in 2017 and again will be in central London in September. SBC is expecting around 800 people to attend, a modest increase on last year’s inaugural Betting on Sport event, which offered the most comprehensive look at the betting industry ever seen. From Brexit to Esports, marketing to integrity, money laundering to DFS, and US Sports to payments, the two-day conference featured 90 speakers across 28 separate discussions.
Marathonbet CEO Viktor Hoffmann was on a panel discussing the future of sports betting, along with SNAI CEO Fabio Schiavolin and 10Bet CEO David Bazak.
Hoffmann believes that the conference offered a perfect opportunity for the industry to discuss the latest issues. He commented: “One great characteristic about our industry is that it’s ever-changing, fast-paced and dynamic. New standards are always being set, while goals and targets are being smashed and re-set. Betting on Sports is a chance for us as a business to immerse ourselves in an industry we’re passionate about, and perhaps influence how we grow and achieve more great things in the future.”
Another speaker was LeoVegas CEO Johan Styren who featured on the New faces panel talking about the new sportsbook that the mobile-first operator launched last year. Styren believes that the industry should be looking beyond its own boundaries for innovation.
He said: “There are a few pain points for sports betting consumers, but in my opinion, the main one is the lack of personalisation. Online and mobile sportsbooks have looked the same for a number of years now, and the industry needs to step up its game by looking at what other industries are doing to address this.”
Paul Leyland of Regulus Partners kicked off the conference with a comprehensive overview of the betting industry in 2016, with special reference to the Brexit vote.
Leyland commented: “The key issue facing all stakeholders in the short-term is uncertainty. Lots of people are making lots of predictions, but the nature of this unprecedented circumstance is that nearly all of them will be wrong. Where there is uncertainty, there is an opportunity. This is a time for big change for all sector stakeholders, and while that is scary for most it will be the making of some.”
Away from the main conference room, Betting on Sports also featured a series of interactive ‘breakout’ sessions, which included an anti-money laundering (AML) and data protection workshop targeting chief executives, heads of marketing, compliance teams and money laundering officers.
McCarron commented: “We’ll be building on the success of Betting on Sports as well this year and we already have dates for people to enter into their diaries – 13-15 September 2017.
“We’ve also been excited at the impact of our new look Awards. We really ramped things up last year and tried to offer something different to the usual industry award ceremonies. I’m pretty sure we managed to provide an experience to everyone who attended.”
Bet365 came out on top of its industry peers to take the SBC Bookmaker of the Year Award for the third year running. The Stoke-based outfit beat Unibet, Sky Bet, Pinnacle and 10bet to take the award, sponsored by Oddslife, which was voted on by industry professionals. Bet365 also picked up the gong for best Live Betting Product in a very successful night for the bookmaker.
Yorkshire-based Sky Bet also had a successful evening, winning the Best Football Bookmaker Award, being highly commended in another two categories, and seeing sister brand Oddschecker retain the Affiliate of the Year Award.
400 industry professionals attended the awards at the exclusive Under The Bridge nightclub at Stamford Bridge and were given a Christmas welcome with snow, mulled wine and mince pies. Inside entertainment came in the form of a 138.com sponsored selfie competition and the Slots Million VR casino.
The evening, sponsored by OPTIMA, was hosted by Sky Sports News presenter Hayley McQueen, thanks to sponsorship from BetOnBrazil, who announced the winners and highly commended entries in seven innovation award categories and seven overall award categories.
The innovation awards winners were chosen by a panel of 30 judges, most of whom are leading CEOs in the business, while the overall awards were voted for by people who attended SBC’s two conferences, Betting on Football and Betting on Sports, or who receive the daily Betting Bulletin from SBC News. The night ended with a set from Kellie Acreman, voted one of the world’s sexiest DJs, sponsored by EnergyBet.
Among the other winners were EnergyBet in the Rising Star in Sports Betting category, Betbrain as Football Affiliate of the Year, Pinnacle as Esports Bookmaker of the Year, LeoVegas for Marketing Campaign of the Year, BetBright for Best Football Betting Product, BetConstruct for Best Sports Betting Product, Golden Race for Best New Virtual Sports Product, Oulala for Best Fantasy Sports Product, Better Collective for the Best New Affiliate Product and Optima for Best Retail Betting Product.
The evening also saw the launch of the SBC Sports Betting Hall of Fame, with Howard Chisholm of Chisholm Bookmakers, Carsten Koerl of Sportradar and FSB Technology chairman Mark Blandford inducted as inaugural members.
McCarron added: “We were particularly excited about the launch of the Hall of Fame as we believe it’s a great way to honour the people who have given so much to the industry. We now have three worthy inductees and they will be joined by more at this year’s awards in December.”
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