The European focused B2B online gambling industry has just finished up the 10th annual European iGaming Congress & Expo held for the first time in Milan, Italy. Everyone felt that Milan was a huge improvement from Copenhagen as a host city, although many still long for the days when EiG was held in Barcelona, walking distance from the Hilton hotel bar.
Attendance this year was strong and the expo center was packed for the first two days. While Milan was a good choice due to the nice weather, excellent food and nightlight, the whole EiG experience felt a bit logistically disjointed. The mediocre conference hotels were scattered around the city, there was a taxi shortage at the expo hall and the official EiG party was in the middle of nowhere, but hopefully these are all details that Clarion can easily sort out for 2012.
Several pieces of breaking news were coincidentally announced during our time at EiG, the Full Tilt Ponzi Scheme accusation by the DOJ and the fall of the Danish Monopoly due to the EU’s decision to allow different tax for online and land based gambling operations. It should come as no surprise that these topics dominated the conference expo floor, the panels and the drunken convos taking place around the bar.
The Poker Panel with PKR’s Malcolm Graham and SkyBet’s Richard Flint obviously spent a bit of time discussing the Full Tilt situation and how it affects the rest of the online gambling industry. Malcolm felt strongly that the disaster we all know as Full Tilt could have been avoided with better regulation but Patrik pointed out that the last time he checked, Full Tilt was in fact licensed in Alderney and France.
The question still remains if regulators should be responsible for ensuring the ring fencing of player funds, a topic that was tossed around during the regulator panel including representation from Jersey, France and Alderney (who kept quiet during this particular topic of course!) While no clear answer was given, the regulators do agree that they should be in better communication with each other, especially when it come to operators within their jurisdiction who are “misbehaving”.
One of the most entertaining and unique presentations at EiG was led by Simon Burrell, CEO of Virgin Games. Simon discussed the benefits and challenges with being associated with a global non-gaming brand, especially when it comes to entering some of the newly regulated European markets.
When being associated with a very well respected brand such as Virgin, the customer expects the highest standards of excellence. If the Virgin product does not meet those expectations the customer will leave very quickly, so in other words, this great reputation could backfire if the Virgin licensee doesn’t manage their product correctly. On the other hand, the Virgin name comes along with automatic consumer trust and Virgin Games is able to offer incentives to other Virgin products such as air miles on Virgin Altantic, something that most online gambling operators are not easily able to offer.
Aside from the expo hall and sessions, the EiG nightlife was not bad, but nothing like the debauchery that occurs during the iGaming Business affiliate events such as the BAC. The two best parties at EiG included the invite only Cable & Wireless dinner and after party and the OneWorks.com parties, both held in the most happening part of town with free drinks for everyone.
Another huge highlight from the conference was the large selection of high quality restaurants in the area- not one person complained about the food and there is no doubt that just about everyone at EiG gained a few pounds before leaving for home.
By the end of EiG’s third day everyone was satisfied, spent and ready to go. A special thanks goes out to PayPoint.net for distributing the remaining booze from behind their booth when it was time to tear everything down. The CalvinAyre.com team appreciated that generous pick-me-up, thank you very much!