Attending online gambling industry conferences around the world has been a part of my job since early 2005. Over the past eight and a half years, I’ve seen conference organizers have come and go and those that have remained are constantly implementing changes in order to keep up with the industry.
I just spent the last week at the Barcelona Affiliate Conference (BAC) and EiG Totally Gaming, two traditionally European facing events, both including some changes that really stood out for me this time, changes all supporting the fact that these events are now expanding beyond Europe.
Now don’t get me wrong, there has always been the odd conference track on a niche market and a few booths here and there from markets outside of Europe, but this year was the first year I noticed that these tracks and booths were truly adding value.
The EiG sessions focusing on the US market, the Brazilian and Colombian market and the African market were popular, the Asia facing 138.com booth and the LatAm facing CasinoFantasia.com booths at BAC were busy and Asia’s premier online gambling regulator First Cagayan had a presence at the EiG for the first time ever.
One could assume this expansion is happening because the European market is dying and the opportunities there have dried up, but I personally disagree – I think our industry is simply becoming more global as new markets emerge.
Michael Caselli, Founder and Editor in Chief of iGaming Business, is one of the most informed professionals in the business and has a large role in managing the conference tracks at his company’s events including the BAC. Caselli is a big believer in the global economy of the online gambling industry and its affiliate counterpart.
“The affiliate market is a global one, with affiliates whose talents reach beyond a single geographical boarder. Affiliate programs are also looking at international expansion, with opportunities in Latin America, Asia and North America ready to emerge”, Caselli said.
Caselli’s comments actually materialized at the BAC in the form of booths and delegates who were there to talk Asia and Latin America. 138.com booked booth space including a busy bar and a slogan that encouraged affiliates with Asian traffic to sign up. CasinoFantasia.com, a new LatAm facing casino had a presence at the BAC with manager Victor Arias on hand to talk with potential partners about the brand and how promising the LatAm market really is.
The European online gambling is mature, saturated and segmented. This does not mean that the market is dead, but it does mean that it might make sense for companies to start viewing their opportunities globally rather than just locally. Many companies in our industry are already starting to expand globally and Arias was able to take advantage of the interest at the BAC.
“After all these years in the gaming industry we can all see how it changes constantly and how we are looking to expand our business models and of course our markets”, said Arias. “With all the different regulations in the European Market, most of the companies and people for whom generating traffic for gaming institutions are their main objective are now looking the Latin American market as one of the main targets”.
“It is evident that over the last few years the European I-Gaming market is getting more and more saturated with many companies competing against one another with an ever limited customer base. More and more businesses have realised that there is a niche market outside of Europe whereby the demand for online gaming has increased significantly”, said Valenzia.
When it came to his accomplishments in Barcelona Valenzia was happy to report, “The BAC gave us the opportunity to meet over 200 affiliates who were generally interested in promoting a new product that they believe is in high demand”.
These household European conferences are also attracting delegates working in newly regulated markets and who are looking to learn from mature markets such as the UK, another reason why we are seeing expansion at these events.
Companies and delegates with a focus on the regulated US market are finding their way to European based online gambling events so they can learn about companies and people who have been successful in a mature market. Geoff Freeman, President of the American Gaming Association (AGA), attended all three days of EiG and was busy participating in panels and meeting anyone and everyone he could to learn more about how the online gambling industry ticks.
“EiG provided a great opportunity for me and the AGA to introduce ourselves to a broader audience, learn about where the industry is going and how the AGA can be a greater asset to our members as iGaming expands in the U.S.”, Freeman said.
The next big events for the online gambling industry take place in London this coming February and I predict we’ll be seeing more and more American, Asian and Latin American companies and delegates coming through the doors. It will be interesting to watch how companies expand globally and how newly regulated and emerging markets develop into online gambling industry stomping grounds over the coming months and years.