Online gambling industry conference madness has come to an end for 2015 and we’re now entering a reflection period as the Christmas holidays approach.
MiGS took place last week in Malta and served as an ideal venue for senior level iGaming professionals to get together for one last time and recap the hottest issues in the industry. DFS, mobile strategy, match-fixing, innovation, regulation and reflection were all covered during the event via sessions and networking break conversations.
For me, MiGS was one of the most enjoyable events of the year, with a good mix between work and pleasure and a solid group of attendees. Upon reflection of my time at MiGS, here are my top six takeaways from the event.
DFS will have legs in UK, Europe, Australia & India
While most of the news surrounding DFS this year has been coming out of America, there are experts who believe DFS will thrive in geographical regions such as Europe, Australia and India. Any stats-driven sport is ideal for the DFS model they say, for example cricket, hence the massive opportunity in India.
At MiGS I spoke with Jon Trigg, Commercial Director for Chroma, a fantasy sports professional who has been working in the industry for over fifteen years. Trigg said there is a “big appetite” in the UK for DFS and traditional sports betting operators will likely add their own DFS offering as the crossover is significant and they don’t want to lose customers to the likes of Draft Kings and Fan Duel.
Trigg also said DFS could “cannibalize” in-play due to the quick gratification DFS play offers. He explained DFS as a “softer” way for people to engage in sport by using more of a prediction format, even more reason for sports betting operators to embrace and include the DFS model in their offerings.
Blockchain technology is the next big thing
The ultimate session highlight of MiGS was the “Century of iGaming” panel featuring industry veterans such as Mark Blandford, Paris Smith, Pontis Lindwall and our very own Calvin Ayre.
Both Blandford and Ayre mentioned their keen interest in Blockchain technology and just how big they believe this technological innovation will become, not only for the iGaming industry, but also for the financial industry in general.
“Innovations like Blockchains are going to revolutionize things”, said Blandford who is now actually involved in a Blockchain technology incubator. “Innovations like crypto-currencies will return some power back to the customers…it will be massive”, said Ayre.
Importance of controlling your technology
Also mentioned during the “Century of iGaming” panel was the importance of controlling your own technology as an iGaming operator.
Both Blandford and Ayre emphasized this point and Ayre said if he could do it all over again he would have invested more in technology and started out as a software developer.
Know your demographics as a mobile operator
This may sound like an obvious point, but knowing exactly who you are targeting with what device is of upmost importance to an iGaming operator.
Simon Hammon of NetEnt said mobile devices are bringing in younger customers, so operators must tailor their branded content to this key demographic. Hammon also said in five years those customers’ preferences will change as they mature and earn more money, so operators must be sure to cater to these changes and keep up with the curve.
On the flip side, retail customers are typically older than mobile customers, so for operators looking to provide an omni-channel experience, they must keep their target audience in mind when trying to move retail customers to mobile.
Educating athletes to prevent match-fixing
Match-fixing is a constant worry throughout the sports betting industry and also one of the reasons why the NFL claims they don’t want sports betting legalized in America.
MiGS included a panel this year on the topic of match-fixing and invited former footballer John Barnes to participate. Barnes insisted educating the athletes on the dangers of match-fixing before it even happens is the best way to ensure integrity in sport. He said the focus should be on education rather than punishment and to do everything we can as an industry to deter athletes from doing it in the first place.
Nice weather = happy delegates
Sounds simple, but its true.
I know there has been a movement to relocate conferences to cities with notoriously bad weather in an effort to keep delegates on the expo floor and in the sessions. While I understand this reasoning, I truly believe when delegates reflect on their time at a conference, they will look at the big picture- how much business did I accomplish, how were the sessions, what was the vibe, how was the nightlife, how was the weather. If it was cold and raining, all the positive aspects of the event will seem less positive and on the flip side, if the weather is good like it was in Malta, everyone is happy.