CasinoBeats Malta Digital, SBC’s latest event during this tumultuous time, has kicked off with a look at how the gambling industry, particularly in Malta, continues to navigate the choppy waters of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The day began with a welcome message from the Hon. Clayton Bartolo, Parliamentary Secretary, Financial Services and Digital Economy for Malta. “The new normal dictates that we meet virtually and not in person, but I am confident that Malta’s success in handling the Covid outbreak will allow us to host you in Malta soon,” he said.
With the opening keynote was Ivan Filletti, COO GamingMalta, who remarked on the charitable efforts the gambling industry has made. Organizations have donated masks, given to charitable foundations, made apartments available for frontline workers, and much more.
On the business side, he was confident the industry will find its way to a better tomorrow, adapting to all challenges before it. “The only constant is change, as cliché as it sounds, it’s the brutal truth,” he said. “We need the continuity of these thought leadership sessions to learn how to embrace change and continue strengthening the iGaming heartbeat.”
Filletti then joined a panel hosted by Megan Easey, Business Success Consultant at Elevate, with co-panelists Fiona Brown, CHRO at Catena Media, Matthew Bonnici, CEO at Paf Multibrand and Natasha Gowans, Comms and PR Specialist Consultant. They looked at how the industry continues to adapt during this pandemic.
Brown detailed the steps Catena took at the start of the outbreak, and remarked how crazy it seems now that at first, we thought this might last only a couple of weeks. Bonnici remarked just how much leadership he’s seen from staff as they’ve had to step up remotely. Gowans added that companies have had to stress their strategies to keep employees safe. Filletti also emphasized that the iGaming industry has done incredibly well taking care of its own, as this is a time to take care of people.
Next was moderator Anna Wallenstein, Casino Director at Youbetcha!, who was joined by panelists Kinga Warda, Head of Information at the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), Anna Falzon, HR Manager at Blue Window, Omar Bitar, Senior HR Business Partner at the Stars Group, and Steven Williams, Senior Manager – People and Change Advisory Services at KPMG Malta. They discussed how the industry can find people with skills from other sectors.
The group generally agreed that better training is needed for even highly educated people to join the gambling industry and hit the ground running. “Of course, a CFO needs specific financial qualifications, but all the different skills in gaming make it difficult for an education system to be ‘gaming friendly’. What we really need is an education system that supports the transfer of skills,” said Bitar.
Falzon though emphasized that even if young people don’t have all the skills they need, they should “just go for it.” She added, “Just because you don’t have one specific requirement listed on the job description, don’t give up – apply anyway.” Williams also noted that firms should give people a chance based on their character. “Technical ability can be taught but if you look for character and other important traits then, as an employer, you can have that person add value to your company long term. So yes, trust your gut, give it a shot.”
The conference also took a look at esports, and the opportunity it continues to bring during this pandemic, and the future. Moderator Sam Cooke, Managing Director and Co-Founder at Esports Insider, was joined by Adam Savinson, Head of Esports Win Technologies at Betway Group, Stephan Shu, Head of Esports at Parimatch, and Eirik Kristiansen, CEO of Pixelbet.
Kristiansen, a once hopeful Starcraft competitor, hoped that the esports vertical can continue to succeed with innovative tools to educate players. “What we try to do is we try to have simplified widgets and easy access to data because I know that a lot of punters specifically, but also less active bettors, they basically make a lot of their decisions not based on emotions but based on data,” he said.
Savinson was skeptical of trying to convert traditional punters long term. “Like right now, we see a lot of operators trying to educate their existing customer base,” he said. “But, you’re never going to really have the great esport fans that are going to become a good quality customer.”
“Education of any kind has a value,” said Shu. “The common thing that you have to consider all the time is that the young generation might not understand how betting works. You have to educate them, to show them the odds.”
Kristiansen noted that one of the more decried elements of the video game industry might now work in the gambing industry’s favor. “I think the reason is because almost all games contain some gambling aspects,” he said. “There are loot boxes and skins, and there’s different types of trading and you open certain types of crates that have a probability of giving you a certain set of skins. These things apply in almost every single game that you play.”
CasinoBeats continues on to Day 2, when it will continue to take a look at operations leadership, casino offerings, and regional opportunities.