The inaugural Future iGaming has finished, an event that offered two days of interactive sessions and networking opportunities built for senior marketing professionals in the iGaming industry. Day two of Future iGaming featured morning sessions on emerging markets and out-of-industry case studies and the afternoon sessions featured social marketing, data strategy and marketing strategy management.
While there were not huge amounts of people in attendance today, there were a lot of new faces on stage and in the audience and that made for some interesting side conversations. The “Oxford Style Debate” format was popular with the audience today and the smaller crowd allowed for productive Q&A during and after presentations and panels. Overall people seemed happy with the event and organizer Susie Benaim has already identified a number of ways to improve the event for next year.
Future iGaming 2014 was undoubtedly a UK facing event, but the session on how to investigate new opportunities in emerging markets was an interesting one.
Panelist Lau Kok Keng is a seasoned lawyer in Singapore with a number of specialties including gaming in Asia. Lau started off by summarizing the main jurisdictions in Asia- the most liberal is the Philippines, jurisdictions with limited licensing include Hong Kong and Singapore, jurisdictions with complete bans include Korea and Japan and then there are jurisdictions that don’t even know how to regulate iGaming.
He added that Vietnam and India are home to some big gamblers and despite the prominence of gambling in their culture, most governments other than Macau and the Philippines do not acknowledge gambling should be regulated and lean towards “gambling is illegal”.
Lau went on to explain current regulatory environment in Singapore, a country that was once “a shade a light grey” when it came to iGaming, but the Remote Gambling Act has changed everything. Two months ago when the Act was passed, gaming activities were criminalized from the perspective of runners, brokers, gamblers, operators, software developers, payment providers, advertisers and includes blocking access to remote website. “Singapore has been greatly restricted”, he said.
The notion of Western or UK focused operators obtaining partnerships in Asia was discussed and both Michele Omini of Pokerstars and Robert Dekker of Ladbrokes agreed its best to seek a local partner in Asia if your brand is unknown. Asian gamblers are big on trust and they prefer to gamble with brands they are familiar with.
Lau confirmed the partnership opportunities in Singapore and Hong Kong are quite limited due to the stringent set of licensing requirements. “Its going to be extremely hard to operate in those jurisdictions”, he said.
However, there are possibilities in China.
Lau explained that during the World Cup, a huge number of bets were taken with the two state operators and there were a whole bunch of unlicensed operators who were engaged in “unofficial” partnerships with these state operators. Its likely the government knew about it, Lau explained, seeing as these partnerships were widely reported.
Lau’s speculation is since state operators raked in so much money and there were no complaints from consumers (and its likely a portion of the revenue went to the government), the government did nothing about it.
Today’s out-of-industry case studies were informative, in particular the presentation delivered by Davide Cervellin, Head of EU Analytics for eBay.
“We want the same things as iGaming Companies- we want to engage customers”, Cervellin said. His advice was to fully understand buyer behavior, understand what they want and give something better to the buyer. Have someone on staff who can evaluate what the buyers want and make sure this person participates in senior discussions, he advised. “Allow them to paint the picture with numbers”, he said.
One of today’s highlights was the Oxford Style Debate during which Pantelis Kotopoulos, Head of Social Media for Unibet, and SEO expert Nick Garner duked it out.
Kotopoulos’s title alone gives away his position as pro social media and Garner argued the con social media side. Both debaters were passionate about their views and the fiery, competitive nature of the session woke the crowd right up and made people chuckle.
Kotopoulos said he loves social media because it allows Unibet to engage with customers, it improves brand loyalty, creates new brand advocates and creates more brand authority. “People are going to trust their friends”, he said.
Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are optimized for mobile devices, something that Kotopoulos sees as a huge plus.
“You can use [social media] as paid advertising, you can use it to talk to customers and change their perception of your brand. Social media is here to stay, its not a fad”, Kotopoulos said.
On the other hand, while Garner admitted social media is “awesome”, he wanted to know why an operator would put their money into social rather than into a PPC campaign, for example. “The real question isn’t if you like it, is if it makes business sense to you”, he said.
Garner being a numbers guy pulled out some stats and shared that the average revenue earned per person through Google in the UK is $25 and the average revenue earned per person through Facebook is 16% of what Google earns.
“People trust Google more than they trust Facebook. If you’re going to invest, invest in search- use social as a nice thing that just rolls along with it”, Garner said.
Despite the hot-blooded debate that took place on stage, everyone did agree on one thing- this panel was pure entertainment. We’ll leave it to you to decide what side you’re on…