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ICE Conference Programme registers double digit increase in attendance
LONDON (8 February) – The 2012 ICE Conference programme registered a 20% increase in attendance with 687 delegates attending the programme of industry leading events which were held alongside the ICE Totally Gaming exhibition. The eight streams strong programme focussed on the hottest issues and fastest developing areas of both online and offline gaming, attracting senior thought-leaders from throughout the world.
Ewa Bakun at ICE Conferences said: “The programme succeeded in delivering unique learning and networking opportunities for all of our delegates. The delegate feedback we have received has confirmed that the topics were of critical importance to the industry and they were delivered by experts in their field including Pamela Brumter-Coret of the European Commission, Simon Burridge, CEO, Virgin Games, Dermot Griffin, Managing Director, Irish National Lottery, Oliver Watkins, Head of BI & CRM, Rank Interactive, Daniel Ledesma, Manager, Casino Gran Madrid, Altay Ural, Director Product Platform, Betfair, Chris Satchell, Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of R&D, IGT and Richard Hewitt, Head of Mobile, Betfairo name but a few. Having a conference programme running alongside what is such an important exhibition for the international gaming industry succeeded in adding to the appeal of both with a significant number of delegates attending ICE for the first time. Our focus now switches to our sister conferences starting with WrB (12th April, Frankfurt), GiGse (24th-26th April, San Francisco) and EiG (16th-18th October, Barcelona).”
The eight strong collection of ICE Conferences comprised: The 4th International Casino Conference, Combating Cybercrime in Gaming, World Regulatory Briefing UK, Multi-Channel Lottery Summit, Integrating Offline & Online Gaming, CRM & Retention for Gaming, Mobile Gaming and Monetising Social In Gaming. Highlights from each of the Conferences are included below.
ICC SPARKS CHALLENGING CASINO INDUSTRY DEBATE
The opening panel of the International Casino Conference, ‘Navigating successfully through challenging times’, sparked a challenging debate about the current state of the casino industry.
Moderator Oliver Zugel, CEO and Chairman, Spring Capital, began with a hard hitting question asking whether the casino industry is terminally ill or just hit by recession and able to bounce back.
Malcolm Moss, Chairman of the National Casino Industry Forum described the climate in the casino sector as hopeful, saying that European ministers and governments needed to “seize the opportunity and make necessary regulatory changes to allow the sector to expand.”
Ron Goudsmit, recipient of the inaugural ICE Totally Gaming Awards’ ‘Outstanding Service to the Landbased Industry’ honour, used the session to call for all sectors to unite and join the discussion on how to get through the current challenging times.
“We must all be part of the debate,” he stated. “Not just online operators but traditional landbased casinos too.”
PLAYER PROTECTION KEY TO REGULATION
Player protection, not taxation was the key message conveyed by a panel of international regulatory experts at the World Regulatory Briefing's 'Setting the scene for 2012' session. The panel, comprising Nick Tofiluk, UK Gambling Commission; Birgitte Sand, Danish Gaming Board; Peter Naessens, Belgian Gaming Commission; Juan Carlos Alfonso Rubio, Spanish Ministry of Finance; and Rhadames Killy, ARJEL, all said their respective jurisdiction’s regulatory stances were taken to protect players from illegal and unchecked operators.
Peter Naessens led the discussion, claiming tax revenue was not the driver in regulation but it was concerned with protecting players. He told the audience: “Regulation works to make sure player’s interests are protected, and we need a level of control for regulation."
Rhadames Killy, reiterated the stance, saying: "Confidence is key to the industry, and it's our obligation as regulators to protect players and their deposits. This is very important to what we do and that is to maintain a safe environment for players to enjoy the experience."
The panel also called on the European Commission to seek the advice of experienced regulators when making policy decisions, adding that 2012 was going to be a busy year for the industry and jurisdictions would benefit from a greater level of communication and cooperation.
“There's a need for regulators to cooperate together and find solutions,” said Juan Carlos Alfonso Rubio. Adding: “We definitely support the idea of a legal market across Europe.”
Birgitte Sand added: "We're not going to support a position against anyone, and there is a real need for a European network of operators. There should be no hesitation though about sharing information with European partners regardless of agreements and jurisdictions."
COMBATING CYBERCRIME FOCUSES ON MONEY LAUNDERING AND EMERGING THREATS
Michael Mrak, head of Casinos Austria AG’s Data Privacy & Anti-Money Laundering division opened Combating Cybercrime’s ‘Keeping ahead of cybercriminals’ session by tackling the issue of money laundering in the gaming industry, and focused on emerging threats to the online sector.
Dennis Luckett (Betfred), David Norman (Betfair) and Jim Noakes (Gala Coral Group) joined him in warning operators not to underestimate the threat to business from these areas, saying they presented ‘a very real risk’ to the sector.
David Norman said that there was no real evidence that gaming is any more susceptible than any other industries. “The perception of money laundering, I believe, is misplaced,” he said, “but can’t be underestimated.”
Dennis Luckett supported this position, commenting: “The biggest challenge to dispelling the myths surrounding money laundering is education. We need to establish what we are talking about; legitimising criminal money, or, criminals losing the proceeds of their crime, and not get worn down by explaining the fundamental differences constantly.
“I’ve only ever encountered two or three real cases of money laundering in the industry,” he continued. “About 90% of crimes involving money are individuals stealing a credit card looking to make some quick cash.”
The panel also identified a number of emerging threats to online gaming, notably mobile fraud, which Noakes said was an area of special interest: “Emerging threats include fraudsters being able to move around with mobile devices which bypass security passwords because they are not able to deal with ‘pop-up’ windows. As mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, bed in, the associated risks need to be examined and dealt with.”
MULTI-CHANNEL LOTTERIES MUST LOOK TO OTHER SECTORS FOR SUCCESS
The gaming industry must take advantage of new technology and look outwards for new ideas and processes according to the expert panel at the Multi-Channel Lottery Interactive Pioneers seminar.
Danske Spil’s Bo Flindt Jørgensen led the discussion, saying the key to growth and success with multi-channel lotteries was to keep adding new products each year and harness new technology to enhance the playing experience. He advised that a great back-end system was the key to success. “It’s a structure to get great customer information, and allows you to focus on giving each customer what they want. It’s where the magic happens!”
The Irish Lottery’s Dermott Griffin added to the discussion, saying that companies should be looking outwards to other industries for successful growth. “Customers may be new to the industry, but they’re very sophisticated online users. People are looking for similar customer experiences to those of low cost flight companies and Amazon. They’re the benchmark for customers, not other lottery systems.”
Camelot’s Nigel Beaney concluded by saying: “These industries are very good at staying on top of new devices and applications. Mobile and tablet devices are really taking off, and we should be embracing them in our sector.”
CRM & RETENTION for GAMING CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS IMPORTANCE OF OPTIMISING CUSTOMER INFORMATION
Rank Interactive's Oliver Watkins and Warren Eloff from Virgin Games led a lively interactive debate at the CRM & Retention for Gaming conference.
The debate focused on how to optimise customer insight and data mining to really understand your customer. The pair discussed primary motivators for players, behavioural segmentation and how to leverage customer-centric data.
Eloff said the use of data to identify the propensity to gamble, the type and frequency of gambler, and type of game was all vitally important information to the operator. "It helps us sort out types of players and how to market to them, whether they are quicker burn-outs where we don't push too hard, the high roller, which requires a specialist approach, or people with an entertainment wallet who don't want us to come on too hard."
According to Oliver Watkins each player has on average 15 different accounts across a number of brands. He explained: "Retention is all about putting proverbial 'bums on seats', and it’s important to use the individual data to engage with existing customers and their habits on a personal level."
Building on the discussion, the pair urged companies to 'keep it simple' when utilising the gathered data, rather than bombard clients of similar player demographics with information and marketing offers.
“The data should be used to tailor information and promotions to each client individually.” Eloff concluded.
MOBILE CONFERENCE ALLUDES TO MARKET DOMINANCE OF HTML5
The overall consensus coming from Mobile Gaming's 'Does HTML5 spell the end of the App store?' panel debate was focus on HTML5, but don't count out apps just yet.
A panel comprising Richard Hewitt, Betfair's Head of Mobile Product, Stuart Magowan, Head of Projects at Betfred, Mats Duvner, Product Manager for Svenska Spel and moderator Darren Pollard, CEO, Mayfair Mobile Gaming offered a near unanimous view in saying that HTML5 would be the mobile market leader eventually, but warned that Apple's App would not be going anywhere in the near future.
"If I were starting a business today, I'd focus on HTML5, no question," stated Hewitt at the start of a lively debate. "Apps are definitely the most dominant product at the moment, but it looks like HTML5 is the way forward."
"An issue with App development is that it's at the mercy of Apple policy," according to Magowan. "If they decide to ban say gambling, you lose your product overnight. This is a big risk for smaller companies, in terms of investment, but won't happen with HTML5."
They went on to debate the strengths and limitations of both systems, but when asked about where the market would be in five years, and if Apps would be redundant, the panel shared the view that while HTML5 would probably be market leader, you would be counting Apple out at your peril.
"As long as there is an iStore there will be apps," Magowan predicted. "They might not be as dominant as they are now, but Apple isn't going anywhere for the foreseeable future."
MONETISING THE SOCIAL MEDIA GAMER PRESENTS A DIFFERENT PROPOSITION
Matthew Cullen, GM Business Development & Strategy, Gamingo, and Lou Castle, Chief Strategy Officer, Shufflemaster introduced the Monetising workshop panel, by exploring the 'social media user' and the 'online gamer'.
They opened by agreeing that social network users won't necessarily respond to companies replicating gambling games in their social network space, and would require a softer, more ambient approach.
"Social gamers who play through Facebook with their friends, are not the same as dedicated online gamers," explained Cullen. "They are looking for different experiences and as a gaming company, we need a different approach to engage them."
Shufflemaster's Castle agreed, adding: "By using virtual currency to get social users playing, where they can play with friends and not risk anything is a really good idea. And if they enjoy the experience, they may want to seek out how to play further, which is where companies let them know that they also offer that kind of experience."
They went on to discuss the opportunities being offered through a Facebook IPO, which they said could present a great way to monetise social gaming. "Currently money gaming is restricted on Facebook, but with an IPO, they'll be exploring ways to make money for the site, which could mean an opening for gaming with money games and gambling. It is definitely worth watching."
BUILDING LOYALTY PANELISTS CALL ONLINE AND OFFLINE CUSTOMERS 'FALSE DISTINCTION'
Panelists at the 'Building loyalty across offline and online gaming channels', part of the Integrating Online and Offline Gaming Conference, started the packed session by debating the points of difference between online and offline gamers.
Oliver Watkins, Head of BI & CRM at Rank Interactive called the idea a false distinction, saying: "First thing we have to really establish is that they're not mutually exclusive," he said. "There's a false perception that online players won't play in clubs, and club players won't play on the internet. In our experience it’s largely not the case."
Fellow panelist, Patrick Duffy, MD of Palace Bingo Clubs, added: "That assertion may be true of some players, but there are people who, for whatever reason, can't make the club but fancy a game and will go online. And there are online players who like the game, want a social night out and will head off to the club."
The panel, moderated by Shahar Attias, Founder of Hybrid Interaction, also addressed the topic of consistent loyalty schemes. "Loyalty schemes structured across both online and offline are essential," he argued. Francesco Parola, Product and Innovation Director, SISAL, stated. "We want to encourage people to play across platforms, and a key to that is delivering a consistent loyalty scheme."
Oliver Watkins concluded: "You have to remember that a lot of people will play online with one company, and then go to a different club. The aim is to keep them playing on both your platforms, and loyalty schemes are very important drivers for achieving that.”
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