With so much excitement surrounding Malta due to its booming iGaming economy, its position as a growing blockchain hub and its playing host to a growing number of iGaming, blockchain and AI and even cannabis events, it truly is “kicking off” on this special little island.
After taking part in the past three iGaming Idol awards as a co-host with Michael Caselli, I’m well aware of the hard work the iGaming Idol team puts in behind the scenes, especially now with the expansion of their portfolio to include a number of events besides their flagship awards ceremony.
Since its inception three years ago, the iGaming Idol group has added events to their roster such as “HR Connect,” charity poker tournaments and several weeks ago announced the launch of “iGaming NEXT,” a conference taking place on September 10th in Malta.
“I think the best way to explain iGaming NEXT is imagine the Apple yearly review event where Tim Cook is on the stage revealing all the new products, married up with the quality of TED conferences where high quality speakers only have 20 minutes to pitch and if those two had a baby, it could effectively be iGaming NEXT,” Michael Pedersen, co-founder of iGaming Idol, said with a smile.
“So its kind of like a launch pad for the Tier 1 suppliers in the industry and we have limited it to six of the largest in iGaming, effectively.”
Taking place the next day on September 11th, iGaming Idol returns to the Intercontinental Arena with a goal of attracting an even more international crowd than years previous.
“We’re now in our fourth year and I think that year one, it was, lets say, 90% people from Malta but now we’re getting closer to a 50/50 split, so its not a Malta event, its really an industry event and we’re trying to encourage more and more internationals to come and visit and encourage them to nominate their employees etc, etc,” explained Pedersen.
To grow an event and execute it properly year after year takes an awful lot of manpower and Pedersen explained how the iGaming Idol team manages all the moving parts that go on behind the scenes.
“To give you a bit of insight into that, we pride ourselves in having a lot of substance, having a really high level of production on the night, so its literally a full year planning event. We have a full-time team that works with us all the time,” confirmed Pedersen.
“Last year we had almost 3000 nominations coming in, we had about 56 different judges involved, we had ‘judging days,’ so that’s maybe another thing that makes us unique, where a formal award show would have a nomination period and then the jury will decide,” Pedersen explained.
“We have a step in the middle which we call ‘meet the judges’, so imagine X Factor when the finalists will be invited to stand on the X on the floor in front of the panel of three or four judges and they have to explain themselves, introduce themselves, you can’t just write your way out of it, you actually have to go and meet the judges face-to-face,” he said.
“So it takes a lot of work, there’ a lot of details that have to be taken care of, but for us that’s what its all about, building something that has substance and winning an award that you’re really proud of having on the shelf at home, that you worked hard for it,” he added.
Expanding their reach beyond Malta-based companies and individuals is a goal currently motivating the iGaming Idol team. A big step towards building an international audience comes in the form of launching iGaming NEXT this year.
“First of all, we have iGaming NEXT and iGaming Idol back to back, so you have a good justification to flying in,” he said.
“iGaming NEXT is supplier-based and if you’re Head of Casino or a COO of an operator you will hit six of the large suppliers with one stone, so to speak, so a time-saver and then you can attend the one of the industry’s top award shows the day after as well and celebrate individuals,” Pedersen pointed out.
“So we think that’s amazing, we’ve also confirmed Google, NetEnt, QuickSpin and Evolution Gaming pre-launch, so its looking like a really exciting event,” he added.