SBC Digital Summit: How COVID-19 is affecting online casino and poker


Keeping the day’s theme of leadership in the iGaming industry, the first couple of panels of day 2 of the SBC Digital Summit focused quite a bit on how CEOs are being leaders while their teams are all working remotely, but they also looked to the two verticals that might keep some operations alive.sbc-digital-summit-how-covid-19-is-affecting-online-casino-and-poker

First up, Moderator Ivan Filletti, COO of Gaming Malta, asked how the panelists continue to lead. The best advice would be to “Cut the crap” began Alex Tomic, CEO of Alea. We spend more time talking about ourselves, he said, but we really need to recreate the human link lost from this office. He believes that remote meetings lend themselves to a bit of tunnel vision, cutting down on both innovation but also empathy. There’s a need to ask people how they are doing, and if they are well.

Ariel Reem, CEO of Genesis Group, pointed out that there’s an element of education involved. Many employees don’t know how to work remotely, and this has all been a process of learning how to work differently. But after a couple of weeks of adapting, it’s about planning ahead, and anticipating this situation might last a while.

Casino sees new players, but not a lot of new money

But is casino play going to increase as a result of Covid-19? Al panelists were pretty much in agreement: No. There has been an increase in volume, but not necessarily an increase in bets, Panelists Alexander Stevendahl, CEO of Videoslots said, and Itai Zak, CEO of GoWild Gaming joined in to conclude that whatever increase is currently being seen won’t become a long term trend.

Poker is in its Second Golden Age

So then can online poker save the day? The next panel, hosted by Jonas Odman, Founder and CEO of Rising Sun Media, looked into this specifically. Panelists Dmitry Starostenkov, CEO of Evenbet Gaming, Ivonne Montealegre, Founder & Event Director of the Malta Poker Festival, Sergii Romanenko, COO of POKEROK, all agreed that this is the second golden age of online poker.

Online poker is seeing volume at levels it hasn’t seen since 2011, Romanenko noted, and Montealegre said this surge is bringing poker back to levels unseen since the Moneymaker boom. She’s also hopeful that operators have learned their lesson, and won’t oversaturate the market with offerings like it did in the 2000s.

But when asked if this boom will survive once the pandemic is over, Romanenko wasn’t sure. On the one hand, a bad economic recession might dry up the funds that could go to long term growth. But on the other, if companies shift to a setup where employees work from home more regularly, that opens up opportunities.

Montealegre gave a pretty optimistic view though, prediciting that the online market may steal some market share from the live poker market long term, as social distancing restrictions may stretch on far into the future.

The SBC Digital Summit is taking a hard look at how every vertical is being affected by COVID-19. great speakers ahead. Register now and you can check out the recording of previously panels, and all of the great content to come this week.