WGES 2019 Day 1 recap


Now in its 13th year, the World Gaming Executive Summit (WGES) returned to the W in Barcelona to welcome the most senior professionals from the European gambling industry and beyond. Today, July 3rd, marked the first day of the Main Conference, a series of sessions, panels and roundtables covering topics such as M&A, blockchain, marketing strategy, land-based trends, developments in sports betting, gambling technology and innovation.

What makes this event so special is the location and access to a predominantly C-level crowd. Everyone loves the sunny, 28 degree weather with a light sea breeze and sea view, including networking breaks and parties taking place poolside and throughout the amazing city of Barcelona. Its just such a treat for everyone.

The high quality, senior speakers are also a treat and we at CalvinAyre.com were happy to see one of this afternoon’s conference tracks dedicated to the topic of blockchain, a technological innovation that for sure will change the world as we know it.

Speaker Lloyd Purser of the blockchain-powered CasinoFair revealed his brand’s attraction to a coveted pool of younger players, partially due to their interest in crypto and of course, slick casino games.

“We’re much younger than the traditional online casino. 85% of all our wagering activity is millennials or younger and we’re almost split 50/50 from the age of 27 down up to 37”, Purser shared with CalvinAyre.com.

“We’re very strong on the younger segment, we know that’s been a problem area for casinos in the past, we know that millennials and the younger millennials specifically, there’s elements of the blockchain that really resonate well with them. Provable fairness, speed of instant winnings, not giving the casino custody of your money,” he said.

“So there’s lots of things with what we are doing which are really attracting that audience”, he added.

CasinoFair is one of the brands that falls under the FunFair umbrella, a white label casino solution all built on the blockchain. When asked what the process was like for their first external white label and what it will be like for additional white labels in the future, Purser was happy to reveal its been a “very smooth process” so far.

“Its very easy. We effectively get the brand assets from the white label partner, we configure it, we put it all live. Because there’s no payment processing, there’s none of those traditional things you have to deal with. With crypto, we’re very frictionless when the player comes in, for an operation we’re pretty light, so we haven’t had to scale up our opps or anything like that, so its pretty seamless. We can do it quickly”, he confirmed.

Did you hear that, iGaming industry? Time to get yourselves on the blockchain!

Another popular buzz word in the gambling industry today is “Artificial Intelligence” or “AI”, with several panels today featuring the subject. Prophet, a secondary marketplace for sports bettors, utilizes AI for liquidity and Co-Founder Jake Benzaquen explained how on his “How will AI influence the online gambling industry” panel and to CalvinAyre.com in an exclusive interview afterwards.

“A lot of what we’re using [AI] for is to fulfill the liquidity on our marketplace, we’re buyers and sellers, so if we don’t have one or the other side, we push AI forward to be able to fill that liquidity and then we use that to analyze what else is happening on the market. So if other exchanges have liquidity elsewhere where we don’t, we can use that liquidity on our own marketplace”, he said.

This afternoon I had the pleasure of moderating the “Building the business case for diversity in gaming: What are the positive business outcomes?” panel featuring industry pioneers Pontus Lindwall, CEO of Betsson AB, Paris Smith, CEO of Pinnacle and Jan Jones Blackhurst, EVP of Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility of Caesars Entertainment. With the help of these pioneers, I think we were successful in opening the audience’s eyes on the extremely complex and important subject of supporting diversity within our industry today.

“Diversity means that you have the best representation of talent throughout your organization. And in order to be sure that you really have the best thinkers, you’re going to have a diverse slate”, Blackhurst said.

“You’re going to have people of color, women, women of color, you’re going to have representation that allows for innovation within the enterprise. Diversity is a best business practice. There’s huge amounts of data that clearly say that senior teams that are more diverse are higher performing. Diverse companies are better performing companies”, she explained.

Once again, one of the elements of WGES that makes it so special is the presence of CEOs and other C-level professionals, not only participating in the panels but also roaming the conference floor and hanging around the pool bar for casual conversations with those who wish to introduce themselves and learn from such leaders.

“I think this is a very good event, usually there are a lot of good presentations, a lot of people from the industry come here to network, so I think it’s a good conference. I’ve been here for many years, so this is one of the few events I put into my calendar”, Lindwall revealed.

When asked what delegates are asking him about when they see him on the conference floor, Lindwall confirmed most questions revolve around M&A and the new Swedish regulations as of January 1, 2019.

“I got a lot of questions before the [Swedish] regulation, what it was going to be and I said to us its like a big black box that will open up. We don’t know anything from the first of January 2019 and then it happened and it was quite a shock to all of us and our colleagues because to us, it was quite a big change in the industry, actually”, he said.