The first day of the 8th Annual Online Bingo Summit took place today in London, the center of the online bingo industry universe. The one hundred or so professionals in attendance spanned from bingo operators to suppliers, entertainment companies, affiliates, bingo players, lawyers and industry media. Checkout Online Bingo Summit Day 2 Recap here.
Seeing as the online bingo industry has such a presence in the UK, Attorney Peter Wilson spoke on the subject of the Point of Consumption Tax (POCT) that may become a reality in the UK in the coming months. When asked how he thinks the tax would affect the online bingo industry in the UK, his response was that for the larger companies that it won’t make much of a difference. For smaller bingo operators however, they could find themselves in an impossible situation because they just cannot afford to stay in business.
Wilson also touched on the “Communications Data Bill” which was introduced in June of 2012 and slammed as a “gross intrusion of privacy” and with measures that are “far too broad” in December 2012. However, because the Conservative Party and Home Secretary are in favor, some say this bill may appear in the Queen’s speech this coming May.
Communications data essentially encompasses where the sender and receiver are located, how much data is sent and includes subscriber information such as name and date of birth. The new bill would require providers to collect communications data for a minimum if 12 months and surrender it to those who need access such as the Police, The UK Border Agency and even the Gambling Commission to help enforce the POCT.
According to Wilson, the least problematic facet of the gambling industry is bingo. Regardless, the bingo industry could still suffer from the effects of a potential Communications Data Bill, especially seeing as sharing of information between players in chat rooms is so prevalent in bingo sites.
The ultimate highlight of the day was the bingo player panel organized by OhMyBingo.com, one of the largest bingo portals serving the UK market. A surprising fact uncovered during the panel was that the players unanimously agreed they are not very keen on mobile bingo, an unexpected comment seeing as mobile is a such popular subject within the gambling industry at the moment.
Ben Starr of OhMyBingo.com told CalvinAyre.com that the panelists’ reason for this non-interest in playing bingo on a mobile device is likely because they don’t have access to the newer devices that would enable a better user experience. Additionally, bingo players love utilizing the chat rooms, a feature that is difficult to build successfully on the small screens provided by today’s mobile devices.
Two representatives from Facebook, Will Collins and Bruce Bale, delivered a presentation on how bingo operators should launch, scale and monetize their games using the Facebook platform. “Candy Crush” was used throughout the presentation as an example of the type of game that is successfully utilizing the Facebook platform; social has been built into the core mechanics of the game, players can play against friends, its competitive, and these days its completely normal for a stranger to look over while you’re playing and say, “so what level are you up to”?
Another tidbit extracted from the panel is that according to Collins, “Facebook is the glue to enable games across platforms”. Bale added that cross platform- desktop to mobile to tablet- is the key to success and that developers must build a game that sits across all platforms seamlessly.
The audience also learned this afternoon that the association with TV brands can be a power acquisition and retention tool for online bingo operators. Jurian Van Der Meer of Endemol Games shared that bingo players enjoy the special “Deal or No Deal” related prizes that his company is able to offer due to their association with the brand. Simon Murphy of FreemantleMedia added that players love tickets to the branded TV shows and really just embrace “anything that money can’t buy”.
The day finished off with Simon Collins offering his panel audience a beer for every good question they asked and delegates continued their networking at the drinks reception arranged by the conference organizers. It was a niche and productive day, we’ll be back tomorrow with a recap from the day two sessions.