SiGMA 2016: rich in events and topics
The Summit of iGaming Malta 2016 was held in Malta from November 16 to November 19. It included a number of conferences, plus a football tournament as a social activity for the participants, a poker tournament also on the first day, November 16, and a welcome event which was held in the state of the art casino located in the expo hall.
A special highlight of SiGMA 2016 was the Startup Pitch
The Startup Pitch was advertised as a session aimed at bringing together startups and investors. That was a great opportunity for the startups registered, so that they could present their projects and then discuss them with the investors. The venue, in the style of a Dragon's Den, contributed to the creation of an auspicious ambience.
The exhibition days, November 17 and 18
On November 17, the conferences started with the discussion of emerging trends, such as live betting, betting of player versus player, plus other related aspects.
Another interesting topic was that of fantasy sport. With the spreading popularity of this sport, considered as a game of skill, it was interesting to explore the role it has achieved in European markets.
The conference on omni channel sports betting was concerned with land based and online betting, and the trends observed in the traffic they derive. It was interesting to discuss if these are still two separate models, or they are merging into omni channel betting.
Winning and losing were the objects of discussion in “For every winner there is a loser”. On the one hand, winners take away from bookmakers' revenues, but on the other, active players should be retained, and the growing following is also a goal for bookmakers. It is difficult to find the right answers to these questions.
The question of the advisability adding a sportsbook to a casino which is already a household name online was the next topic. There are both opportunities and hazards involved, so this was interesting for the attendees to discuss.
Inplay sports betting, the next conference topic, is not just an increasingly firmer favorite with punters. It is interesting to discuss how it changed the betting industry, and what the turnaround for a game is.
In the afternoon of November 17, the topic of Survival of the Fittest Affiliate was the first one to take place. Is it a reality indeed, or is there a myth that larger affiliates generate a large part of the traffic globally, and smaller ones have to struggle to survive?
The matter of search engine optimization, and the black hat versus the white hat method, was another hot topic. The discussion was led by four speakers. Google constantly updates its algorithms, and optimization has to comply with that. What about new methods for soaring SEO rankings?
SMS and email marketing, and also a presentation on Google rankings against artificial intelligence, were the next topics. Google rankings are of great importance, but how can SEOs manage to compete with machine intelligence?
November 18 – regulatory events
These events started with short presentations by Christian Cardona, Minister of the Economy of Malta, Joseph Cuschieri, Chairman of MGA, and Ivan Filletti, Vice Chairman of Gaming Malta.
Then a discussion on catapulting Malta into the future started, which comprised the new legislation of MGA, plus banking and tax questions, etc. These are important for the role of Malta as a major hub for online gaming, and will pave the way for a successful future too.
The question of Brexit and its impact on the gaming industry was another topical issue. The panel dedicated to Brexit explored the different aspects of impact, in the short and in the longer term. It can be expected that UK based operators will likely be subject to pressures, and on the other hand, the EU based operators would also witness changes influenced by Brexit. Besides operators, punters from the UK and those based in EU countries, are also likely to be impacted. It was interesting to discuss the role of Malta, how it could benefit from the advantages, and what negative impact would arise that Malta should tackle.
The Complexity of Compliance discussion addressed the matters of VAT, the privacy of data, etc.
The Road to Consolidation discussion addressed consolidation, where the trends are driven by the necessity to expand scales and thus meet the rising costs due to tax changes, the access to technology, mobile penetration, etc.
Two more presentations included M&A and Capital market activity seen from the perspective of operators, and Responsible Gaming.
The afternoon of November 18 was devoted to Payments & Disruptive Tech
Here, the transition of online gaming was the first topic, dwelling on the innovations and how they will influence the future of the gaming industry.
Then, the question of Virtual Reality as a game changer was addressed, and also how the gaming industries should be bridged for millennials. Millennial punters are numerous, and it is great to achieve their engagement, with small sums and in high volumes.
The power of data, how they can impact efficiency, enhancing retention, cyber risk were the other topics, plus opportunities rising under PSD2 and the potential of Bitcoin.
Partnership events at SiGMA 2016
The partnership events included the KPMG eSummit, the iGaming Education Forum held from November 16 to November 18, and the Castille: Human Capital & Performance, on November 18.
The iGaming Education Forum
On day one of the forum, the topics were responsible gaming, fighting money laundering and frauds. On day two, it was time for management topics: managing online casinos, sportsbooks, and e-sports. Day 3 was dedicated to acquisition and retention, managing customer relationships, and marketing on the powerful grounds of social media.
The SiGMA 2016 media partners
The media partners help to spread information and attract new participants in SiGMA events. This year's partners included AffiliateTech, the largest such conference, the AMTECH international games, sports and equipment exhibition, APCW, Balkan Entertainment and Gaming Expo, the
Casino-Millionnaire.com gaming e-magazine, the CountryProfiler international media, Eastern European Gaming, the eGaming Review, VegasSlotsOnline, World Casino Directory, etc.