After an official WGES dinner and party at Barcelona’s beachside Shoko, delegates returned to the W conference center today for more discussions, panels and presentations and of course, quality time by the pool with fellow C-level gambling professionals.
Topics of discussion included opportunities in Asia, sports betting, eSports, brand engagement, omni-channel and last but certainly not least, cryptocurrencies and Blockchain.
Reuben Portanier of Afilexion Alliance has a rich history of leadership the online gambling industry, once serving as the CEO of the Maltese Lotteries and Gaming Authority, or what is now called the “MGA”. Portainer, like many other iGaming professionals, has taken an interest in Blockchain technology, recognizing the outstanding solutions it provides for the online gambling world.
“I think there’s an evolution, even from the gaming side that will eventually also embrace Blockchain technology because there are a lot of advantages even for the gaming industry sector to embrace the technology”, he told CalvinAyre.com in an exclusive interview.
“Not only simply on the payment side, but even on the technology itself which can lend itself to provide gaming operators and regulators a trusted platform whereby even for example, AML, or regulatory forms, if you’re looking from the compliance side, there could be a lot of advantages there as well”, he added.
Here at WGES the crossover between Blockchain and eSports specifically was also highlighted, especially considering eSports enthusiasts and gamblers tend to be the younger, tech-savvy type.
Michale Doyle of eSports betting exchange PVP.me spoke on today’s “Incorporating Blockchain technology into your gaming platforms” session and revealed what his team are experiencing from a crypto perspective.
“Most of the eSports fans have already dealt with crypto currency, they’re always trying new technologies. We all know about skins, how they were being used, now crypto has seemed to move a bit towards that”, Doyle shared.
“So the experience we’re having is that we’ve started to introduce crypto, we’re using Nano, we’ve seen the adoption of them – its bizarre, its incredible, because most of our products are really in-play live betting, so it allows them to just instantly deposit, place their bets and instantly if they want, take it out”, he added.
While moderating today’s “The future of crypto currency in the gambling industry” panel, it became apparent there has been a shift from talking about using crypto as a currency/payment method or an application (think Bitcoin) to using the Blockchain tech or protocol in other ways (think Ethereum, smart contracts and tokens).
I also learned while there are still a number of hoops to jump through in order to integrate Blockchain into our businesses, the time is now to start researching what chain to use, how to launch an ICO the right way and how to use Blockchain to save money and resources on initiatives such as compliance, KYC, etc.
At this moment in time, until we reach a point with Blockchain when third parties are no longer necessary and spending in crypto becomes mainstream, banking continues to be a road block for gaming companies who wish to engage in crypto.
“This is one of the underappreciated problems in this space and one of the key blockers for mainstream adoption in our industry”, panelist Lars Lein of Luckbox explained.
“You will find that payment processors and banks, they will have a skill set that is very finely tuned to the gambling industry or to the crypto industry. There are a very different set of challenges from the bank’s point of view, from the payment processor’s point of view”, Lein added.
“So the reality is right now, if you’re a big operator, you simply cannot use crypto currencies because your payment processors and your bank won’t understand from a compliance and AML point of view, they’re not going to do it. And when you’re a large incumbent, you can’t take those kinds of risks”, he said.
Love them or hate them, ICOs have a been a huge topic here at WGES, both from an operator and investor perspective. Panelist Jed Taylor of DecentBet has had first-hand experience in launching a successful ICO and has plenty of tips for operators who wish to do the same and for enthusiasts who are keen on investing.
“When we approached our ICO, the one thing we wanted to focus on is what would be important to me. If I was investing in an ICO, what would inspire confidence that I was investing in something that was valid”, he explained.
“One of the key things we did, we were one of the first, if not the first to do it, is we developed our own alpha technology prior to asking for public participation. So many ICOs, it’s a whitepaper, it’s a website and here’s something that could work, but at the end of the day, a good idea without execution, really doesn’t have any value”, he added.
“Don’t look at a thread on Facebook with people saying, ‘buy this, this is hot, this is going to work’ and let that be what dictates what you’re going to invest in. Do your own research and look for these sort of things that show commitment and capability”, Taylor advised.