The inaugural Vienna International Gaming Expo (ViGE) kicked off today at the Austria Center Vienna on March 20th, also the first day of Spring. This three-day expo was organized by EEGEvents and designed to bring together gambling professionals working for the online and land based sides of the industry with a special focus on Central Europe.
Vienna was chosen as a home for ViGE due to its location in the heart of Europe and delegates have enjoyed the city so far, especially because of the mild weather, stunning architecture, outdoor pubs and wonderful sight-seeing opportunities.
Day one of ViGE featured a networking expo floor and series of seminars focusing mainly on regulatory updates from around Central Europe and challenges for operators, suppliers and affiliates face working in such regulated markets.
BetConstruct has a big presence at ViGE this year, with a gorgeous booth equipped with a full bar and fresh fruit for their guests. George Voyatzis told CalvinAyre.com of BetContruct’s recent Romanian license and said the appetite for sports betting in Romania is strong and he looks forward to working in this market. Voyatzis said while all markets are important to his organization, Central Europe is an area of focus and as regulations are pushed through, their overall presence in the region will grow.
Gaming lawyer Martin Arendts of Arendts Anwalte spoke on a panel this morning and covered the past, present and future of gambling regulation in Germany, a market that shows no immediate signs of simplifying itself.
Arendts said “Germany is a mature market, but not a mature regulation” and went on to explain despite its legality, not one sport betting license has been granted since 2012. He also explained how online casino games are illegal and not properly regulated, yet plenty of online casino operators enjoy offering their services to German customers.
Out of all the Central European countries, Germany is one of the most promising according to Arendts and despite its “grey” nature, revenues are expected to rise and the country still has “huge market potential”. However, without a modern regulation, a black market will be encouraged and Arendts doesn’t expect anything to change for at least a few more years.
Arendts did point out the current regulatory situation in Germany is favorable for gaming lawyers as there are so many pending court cases and grey areas and added its ok for operators because casino games are not currently prohibited.
Jan Rehola of PS Legal spoke on the same panel about Czech Republic gaming regulations and confirmed a full range of licenses are available for all types of games apart from streaming online casino. “There are no limited numbers of licenses and any company that fulfills the requirements would be granted a license”, he said.
Hungary’s regulatory status was covered by Gabor Helembai of Bird & Bird and he confirmed the market is restricted for sports, horse racing and lottery due to state monopolies. He said online operators can only apply for casino games and said its not likely the state monopoly will change in the near future.
Today’s IMGL Masterclass covered the risks and challenges for affiliates, operators and platforms working in regulated markets. Yoav Dotan, founder of Genesis Gaming, referred to himself a medium sized operator and said “we are operating on Maltese and UK licenses currently because the tax and regimes in places like Czech Republic don’t make sense for us”.
He confirmed Holland, Sweden and Germany are markets he’s keeping his eyes on for the future, assuming the tax will be reasonable. However, he described keeping track of a variety of regulatory regimes around the EU as “a big headache” and said he would prefer one unified license for the EU, but recognizes this is not likely to happen. “But that’s my wish”, he said.
“So for operators for me, we’re looking at markets outside of the EU, markets like Africa, Asia, South American…they are more profitable, if we’re going to put resources into new markets, it makes sense for us to look there instead”, he added.
He pointed out how monitoring so many markets and regulations takes away from innovation and addressing customer needs, two of the most important focuses for his organization. “We want to monitor as little as possible areas that are not our main focus”, he explained.
This afternoon’s “Recent Trends in Online Marketing” panel featured iGaming affiliate Assaf Stieglitz of Odds1x2.com, an affiliate with a big focus on the technological innovation. He talked on the fact that M&A has expanded from iGaming operators to also include affiliates and cited Catena Media’s recent affiliate acquisition spree.
He pointed out how such acquisitions are changing the affiliate ecosystem because bigger media companies have the leverage to negotiate higher CPAs and rev shares, but smaller affiliates are not able to do the same. However, these same smaller affiliates can now potentially get acquired by larger affiliates and could make a lot of money in doing so if they’re able to get a high valuation, of course.
Stieglitz also shared with CalvinAyre.com his thoughts on where the innovation in iGaming affiliate marketing is getting exciting. He described the role chat bots can and will play in affiliate sites such as his and talked on the rise of VR/AR and how such technologies will become more dominant as time goes on.