iGB España 2011 took place for the second year in a row at the Melia Avenida America in Madrid. The turnout this year was about the same as last year, around 200 Spanish speaking attendees plus one who doesn’t speak Spanish at all (moi).
One of the beauties of this niche conference for the Spanish market is that you do not have to speak Spanish to attend- organizers iGaming Business hired several Spanish to English translators to ensure that all attendees could understand the sessions which were all conducted in Spanish.
iGaming Business also did an excellent job talking care of their delegates as usual, to the point where they graciously called in for afternoon coffee and hand delivered it to those in need (moi aussi) the day after the official networking party.
While some had mixed feelings about the turnout and timing of the event, everyone agreed that iGaming Business was on top of their game and provided top notch customer service from the opening drinks on Thursday to the closing drinks on Saturday.
The timing of the conference was surely responsible for some speakers having to pull out last minute due to the upcoming regulation on January 1st. The first day of the conference, Friday, November 18, was also the exact day the Spanish regulators confirmed legislation would be passed and operators can begin submitting licenses the following day, November 19 until December 24. Had the conference begun one day later we would have lost Spanish lawyers Santiago Asense and Albert Augustin as speakers because starting on the 19th they have a lot of docs to review!
Thankfully, both Asensi and Augustin were able to participate in an in-depth panel on the upcoming Spanish regulation, what it includes and what application process involves. This panel provided great information for delegates, but some operators felt that iGB España would have been a more valuable event once the licenses are actually granted. At the present moment, we’re still at a time of uncertainty when it comes to the Spanish market, at least from the eyes of an operator or affiliate.
Another area of uncertainty surrounds what will happen once the Spanish elections take place and a new President is potentially elected. Will there be more licenses granted? Will there be changes made to the tax on operators? Will slots become regulated as well? No one knows and no one will know until 2012 and beyond.
In the meantime, at iGB España Spanish affiliate Judd Muir pointed out that while yes, there is uncertainty at the moment and affiliates will have to make changes, between now and January 1st they should promote the hell out of online slots before they become illegal in Spain. For sure, this was one of the best money-making tips revealed over the past few days in Madrid. Muir also explained that it will become illegal for affiliates to promote operators who are not licensed in Spain to Spanish players come January 1st. If affiliates choose to work with unlicensed operators anyway and are caught by authorities the fines will be huge, so beware!
One of the best presentations of the conference was delivered by Javier Waldman of 888.com who walked us through 888’s new branding campaign- the circle- and how they adapt the global brand name of 888 to the local markets in which they are present. For example, in the UK, 888 uses a well known Aussie Cricket player as a brand ambassador for their new poker product. Should 888.com be granted a Spanish license, their plan is to associate their brand with Spanish sports teams as this is what the Spanish are most passionate about and can relate to.
Aside from the sessions, the networking opportunities at iGB España were outstanding. The lunches on both days were plentiful, relaxing and social plus the official networking party was a perfect venue choice and a great chance to mingle with affiliates, operators and suppliers while drinking free booze. Thank you Jacki Becker for arranging the venue and thank you Billing United for getting us drunk.
After spending two days listening and talking about the Spanish market, it became even more apparent that 2012 will be a huge year for this market. Everyone is very interested to see what unfolds over the next 12 months and if this market will live up to its potential, all topics to be discussed in full at iGB España 2012.