After a wonderful first day of the iGaming NEXT Online conference that focused on self-improvement, the second day took a hard look at the realities the gambling industry now must face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. A pair of panels took a look at the realities the Human Resources departments of iGaming firms will face, and the business opportunities in front of them.
Pierre Lindh, Co-founder of iGaming NEXT, once again welcomed the audience at the beginning of the day. He celebrated the success of the first day, noting more than 500 showed up to watch the talks on offer. This proves, he noted, a hunger for knowledge during times like this.
He then hosted a panel of HR leaders for a discussion on “1 Year on From Covid 19: Positive and Negative Changes Experienced in the Gaming Industry Workforce.” Joining him were Fiona Ewins Brown, CHRO of CatenaMedia, Heidi Lofthus, CPO of Comeon Group, and Marie Louise Theobald, CPO of Hero Gaming.
Brown noted off the bat that, even during the before times, hiring for Malta is more difficult than other countries. Her company had already started discussions about if people need to be in the office, or if they can work remotely. Overnight, she noted the company had to shift to everyone working from their home offices. The focus now is squarely on making sure people stay productive and don’t burn out.
Theobald said that, now that the curve is showing signs of flattening, the biggest struggle has been employees who want to get back to the office. Striking the right balance of returning to work, but not to soon, is a tricky feat to manage.
Lofthus was optimistic that, even if there should be a second wave of the virus, the industry has already learned what steps to take due to the experience we’ve gained. Brown cautioned though that, if we have to force a second lockdown, it would be demoralizing to employees. She preferred getting it right the first time to avoid that kind of moral blow.
Conversation then turned to what the new normal might be. Theobald said, “We won’t go back to a normal that we know. It will be a new normal that we need to adapt to.” All of the panel agreed though, the office will still play an important role, and we won’t be shifting to a permanent life of working remotely.
Finally, Lindh asked if each of the panelists had advice on how employees can work remotely through this time. Brown offered that everyone should have a routine to start and finish work, but then don’t keep looking at their phones; Be disciplined.
Next up was the “CMO panel – The Post COVID-19 Digital Revolution,” moderated by Dersim Sylwan, CMO of LeoVegas Group, with panelist Sabrina Solda, CMO of BtoBet, Louise Nylén, CMO of Trustly, and Klas Winberg, CMO of Raketech.
Sylwan began by asking each panelist for how their current operation is doing. Nylén noted that there’s been some disruption to the normal flow of work, simply because 5 minute chats in the hallway have turned into 30 minute virtual meetings.
Solda jumped in right to the heart of the matter for sports betting. Before COVID-19, verticals weren’t being activated because operators were focused on sports books. But now virtual sports, esports, fantasy sports have to be relied upon, and retail operators need help going online. She specifically noted one Mexican retail operator has seen online GGR increase of 125%.
There was some discussion of regulation as well, as regions like Spain have seen large surges in online play. Winberg commented that it’s natural to see regulators react to that when the changes are so big, but Sweden hasn’t seen the same surge. But if online bans go into place, it would create a new surge towards internationally licensed operators, defeating the purpose of a locally regulated market. Is the idea to create a safe gambling environment, or to kill it, he asked.