Coming up on September 18th and 19th in London we have the second annual CasinoBeats Summit, running alongside Betting on Sports, both falling under the SBC Events umbrella. CasinoBeats was born to include professionals and companies with casino interests, overlapping nicely with SBC’s legacy sports betting focus. These two events, which will both move to Barcelona next year, have facilitated SBC’s goal of servicing the entire iGaming industry.
Stewart Darkin is the Managing Director of CasinoBeats at SBC and has been involved in the iGaming sector since 2012, formerly serving as the editor of iNTERGAMINGi magazine. In 2018, Darkin moved to SBC to launch CasinoBeats and has not looked back since. This is my interview with Darkin on what CasinoBeats Summit 2019 has in store for us and why iGaming professionals should consider attending.
Becky Liggero: Thank you so much for joining me in the days leading up to CasinoBeats Summit! How has the event evolved since its inception last year? What did you learn in 2018 and change for 2019?
Stewart Darkin: In the simplest terms, CasinoBeats in 2018 was a new media brand, seeking an online audience and finding a voice. In September, we held the inaugural CasinoBeats Summit but – successful as it was – it was also consciously a learning experience. Into 2019, events became a major focus – building on the media brand and reaching new audiences as well as existing audiences in different ways. Because of the way SBC and CasinoBeats curate the content at our events, this editorial foundation is really key. We have a very strong content team and this gives us great depth and agility, and you need that if you are going to host 50-plus panel discussions that people will find genuinely engaging.
What we have learned is that gaming professionals appreciate a certain type of approach. Our newsletter is daily and reliably filled with 10 new stories and features from the last 24 hours. It is not cluttered with ads, there’s no paywall – it’s fast and free and formats brilliantly on mobile, as does the website. It is also dedicated to casino, which has become more of a differentiator than we first appreciated. So once you take a transparent, plain-speaking approach to something like that – and people respond well – you then have a steer for your event content also. You just have to be faithful to the process and the principles behind it.
BL: We all truly appreciate the work of your content team, that is for sure. What are, say, two or three of the biggest topics that you plan to cover during the 2019 edition of CasinoBeats Summit?
SD: This is the question of course that we asked ourselves in the early planning phase for the event. The key to shaping that content was the relationship with the audience, and therefore with the industry. We listened, we read, we set up an Advisory Board and we zoned in on what the sector is talking about now.
The key takeaways from that process, and reflected in the Summit agenda, are that people still want to talk about the products and the operational side of the business. This is the ‘bread and butter’ of the sector and it would be foolish to not give those topics the oxygen they demand. So we talk about innovation – a challenge in itself, given the wide range of reactions people have to that word.
Something else we learned is that the sector is now ready to engage more fully in discussing responsible gambling. That is not to sound patronising – meaningful conversations and events have been held for many years and a huge number of people have worked so hard on progressing the issue. But now, at CasinoBeats and Betting on Sports, a leading B2B gaming event has dedicated a full track of content to the issue in the shape of the Safer Gambling Forum.
Linked to this focus on responsibility and sustainability, I can also reveal we are also launching the Pride of Gaming Awards, which will seek to recognise individuals or companies that have done the most to promote the good name and image of casino gaming, in whatever form. We will be revealing the first winners very soon!
BL: Great news, looking forward to it! Now in terms of speakers…I know all your speakers are amazing, but could you tell us about a few key speakers who you’re really excited to have this year and why?
SD: Pick a favourite, you mean? That seems like a risky strategy! Overall, the thing that we find most pleasing is the number of leading operators taking part in the event and the high number of C-level speakers we have, both from operators and suppliers.
From a personal perspective, I’m looking forward to hearing from the CEOs of operators like Danske Spil, Hero Gaming, Svenska Spel and Videoslots but equally, I’m thrilled that Big Time Gaming, Casumo, LeoVegas, Play’n GO and Red Tiger will be talking about innovation. Microgaming on CSR will be interesting and who knows what the situation with Brexit will be when that particular panel comes around.
But mostly, I am looking forward to the surprises – those sessions that take an unexpected turn or a stellar speaker we had no idea was so gifted and compelling.
BL: Good answer and I am truly looking forward to moderating the “Affiliate Marketing for Generation Z” panel with some of the brightest minds in this sector. Finally, why is Casino Beats a must-attend for iGaming industry professionals?
SD: From the outset, our aim at CasinoBeats has been simple – to create a room that everyone wants to be in. And to get anywhere near that, we need to offer what it is that people in the sector care about. So we have sought to be different while mindful of the mood and nature of the conversations going on in the industry. And key to furthering any of those debates is to hear from the influencers, the newcomers, the dissenters and the established leaders.
Offering valuable networking opportunities is also absolutely critical. Busy gaming professionals do not have time spare to sit in London for two days with no ROI, however engaging the debate. They need to meet the right people. So we work hard to get the those people into the room and we open the door.
BL: Thank you so much Stewart and I look forward to seeing you September 18-19!