Category: Events

02 May 2020

Gioco News International Digital Panel: “Gaming in face of Covid-19”

Tuesday 5 May (h11-13) the new edition of Gioco News’ Digital Panel with an international debate about restart of gaming industry.

In the mood of great uncertainty in which the global gaming industry is, only one thing is sure: nothing will be the same. What are the drivers that operators must follow and the new rules to regain consumer confidence and lead them in the new paradigm? Has the time come to change the whole way of “making” gaming?
A series of questions that Gioco News wants to try to answer, with the Digital Panel: “Gaming in face of Covid-19” (Tuesday 5 May at 11h), calling on the main international experts, for a global reflection that takes into account all needs: economic, industrial, health and organizational ones.

Speakers: Heathcliff Farrugia, CEO Malta Gaming Authority; Pieter Remmers, President Assissa; Birgitte Sand, gambling consultant, IAGR Patron; Jason Frost, President Euromat; Francesco Rodano, Chief Polic Officier Playtech; Ludovico Calvi, President GLMS; Andrea Rossi, Managing Director Southern Europe & Latam – Betsson Group / StarCasinò. Moderator: Christian Tirabassi, Senior Partner Ficom Leisure.


24 Apr 2020

Games: no boom of online, but protection against illegality is needed

If the emergency caused by the coronavirus epidemic has completely blocked retail gaming, online gaming – albeit at half strenght – continues, and in the absence of sports events in betting has seen poker and casino games to grow, consolidating the offer of some games and paving the way for new developments.

But there was no “outbreak” of bets in the virtual segment, as feared (or erroneously reported) by some. Indeed, to be honest, the data coming from the industry and made available during the Digital Panel of entitled: “The impact of Covid-19 on online gaming. In particular, “On a basket of 30 concessionaires, bets record a minus 75%, while all other games grow by 2-3% compared to the previous period. The weighted average is that the overall expenditure is less than 15%. There are few players, the active ones have fallen by 12%, because they mainly bet on football and have stopped betting with the stop of the championships. But they didn’t go looking for other games” Marco Castaldo, CEO of Microgame, explains speaking at the debate.

We are working much more than before in this emergency lockdown situation, but we are witnessing a drop in turnover because, contrary to what many think, the stop of bets has not been mitigated by the growth of the other games. And players play in a different way, with more attention, to last longer by spending less”.

If specific segments, such as those of virtual casinos, are growing – in March it has grown by 29% for StarCasino, as explained by Andrea Rossi, Managing Director Southern Europe & Latam – Betsson Group – it remains clear that the performance of these verticals will only be a support and won’t fill the hole of betting.

Instead, the problem of Italy is that of the illegality risk. As Barbara Beltrami, Country Manager Kindred Group, highlights in the panel: “What is found in Italy is also found in the other markets. Emphasizing that the physique is fixed, generating more than 90 percent of the gaming volumes, there wasn’t a transfer of this revenue on the online, at least on the legal one. We don’t know what is happening on the illegal online market, given that today with the current advertising ban, if a player is looking for an online offer it is easier to find unlicensed operators. The data we are talking about only concern the legal market, while we aren’t able to evaluate what is going on in the illegal one, but the authorized operators are working even harder to always protect the players, many have launched messages to users about responsible gaming, there is a great attention to ensure that there is sustainability, to inform the players, to help them not to exceed, to use control tools”.

For this reason, the operators’ call to the government is to open a discussion table on the ban on advertising which risks becoming even more dangerous in times of coronavirus.

Trevor De Giorgio, chief legal officer of Greentube, a leading operator in the supply of games says: “At the moment, we have not seen this transfer of players from land-based to digital market. Our reality is divided into two parts: B2B and B2C. On B2B, we see that our customers are more active and have a greater number of spins, but if the players spend more time on their device, we don’t see the increase in expenditure, there is no loss of control. In fact, we see players who adapt and want this level of entertainment, including when it concerns poker.” So, “the online industry is not immune to the situation created by Covid-19, we have also been affected by it. For example, in Italy you have to work from home since March, and the same thing happens here in Malta, for six weeks.”

As for future scenarios, De Giorgio says: “We have to prepare. When sports events reopen, many will be behind closed doors. There will be no real-time updates and this exposes to a greater number of frauds. B2C operators will have to be prepared for this reality.” And as for the illegal gaming, without an Italian license, “these websites are a reality, many have our games and many other suppliers, but they are not really ours, and this has a negative effect on our reputation as suppliers. The player doesn’t see the difference between a game of ours or one that has the same name but which is produced in Russia, but when somebody plays, feels that math is different. We are seeing how to minimize and deal with these effects”.

Arcangelo Lonoce, Europe Business Development Manager of Habanero Systems, explains: “It is difficult to assess the impact of the crisis on our market presence in Italy, we have been there for two years and we are still in an expansion phase. It is true that the impact is strong but the period under analysis is still too short to provide estimates.

The last month and a half we have noticed a decrease in the game played per spin, we are seeing a more rational approach, a trend that we have seen starting from March and strengthening also in April. From the point of view of the numbers on the market, we have not seen a growth in gambling”.

“In comparison with other similar markets with a less dynamic presence in Italy, in March and in April there were no new departures with new customers, we saw a decrease, most of our customers there are bookmakers and retail, and we have seen a decrease also in the number of players.

In this first phase, in which we are trying to get an idea of our business on the European and Italian markets we certainly haven’t seen anything to be happy about,” Lonoce says again. “If we look starting from the various facts highlighted, when we see that there is no crossover between retail and online, among the various verticals such as crossbooks and casinos, we see players playing casino games as hobby, indeed the outlook for the future is a problem.

I say that from the point of view of a B2B supplier that works only on casino games and online, our perspective is less advantaged than others that we are appreciating today, but we have no alternative to what we offer. From the operational management point of view, being our company small and scattered all over the world, we have not been affected, but for the company’s growth strategy, we suffered the cancellation of the possibility of confronting, exhibiting, traveling” .

22 Apr 2020

The impact of Covid-19 on gaming: over 600 million lost per month in Italy

From the digital panel of Gioco News on Covid-19 the invitation to plan ‘tomorrow’ today: to face losses and assure a future for the industry.

Not everything has sunk and we will stay afloat. Spring will return, even if we don’t know when!”

Eduardo Antoja, Euromat’s honorary President, endorses that, speaking on the digital panel entitled: “The impact of Covid-19 on gaming, in which the scenarios for the main gaming markets have been drawn, following the emergency caused by the Covid-19 virus and the subsequent lockdown.

Now, the most important problem is that our sector continues to be completely misunderstood by politicians and rulers. Not only in Spain or Italy, but throughout Europe. For this reason, a new paradigm based on social responsibility must be built, in which all stakeholders must be involved. Citizens ask us for fun games in safe and pleasant environments” Antoja adds.

We have to think about the ‘next day’, for which there is no cure, because there is a need for ideas and plans today, at this moment. Projects that preserve the interests of all members of the sector and, in particular, of customers, the players. To discover all the best practices from other countries and sectors”.

Moreover, the damage caused by the pandemic to the gaming sector is truly remarkable. In Italy we talk about “Over €750 million in lost revenue and over 600 million losses in terms of revenues for the public gaming sector, for each month of lockdown”. This is the evaluation provided by Geronimo Cardia, president of the Acadi association, speaking at the Gioco News Digital Panel dedicated to the impact of Covid-19 on gaming.

Gaming sector – Cardia adds – has respected the rules, securing employees and customers, with a great sense of responsibility. And now it is asking for measures that can somehow limit the damage, for example by asking that future payments can be suspended and made on the basis of the actual collections”.

On the contrary, Ludovico Calvi, President of the international body GLMS – Global lottery monitoring system, describes the three key points to face the crisis, even in gaming: “well-being of employees, access to programs allowing tax relief for companies and the containment of internal company costs”. But above all, Calvi warns about the risk of illegality: “States and governments have and will need money. Generating revenue from the gaming industry is absolutely essential for many countries and many will turn to it to draw these resources. Also because, if they don’t, there will be those who will do it for them: indeed, someone is already doing it and is laundering money. We deal with regulation and integrity and have never worked as in the past 4-6 weeks. In these days, there have been events never played but criminal organizations have bet on them to launder money. This is why I want to launch this appeal, pay attention to illegality.”

But the coronavirus is also set to deeply change the type of business and business strategies. As highlighted by Christian Tirabassi, Ficom Leisure Senior Partner, in his speech: “After a first phase of analysis and emergency management with the closure of physical locations in almost all markets, the second phase was focused on intensifying the online channel, especially mobile. The unbalanced groups on the retail side or sports betting found themselves lost by an immediate problem, and the reaction in several countries was to focus on online: those who had a ‘weak’ part must intensify it, who already has it aims to casinos, bingo, poker and skill games. We see requests for help from a strategic point of view to intensify this part. There has undoubtedly been a positive trend on digitization: in Italy we are at 10 percent, the Nordic countries have reached 30. An important step has been taken, we realized that online is an effective gaming tool. Gaming will certainly move to digital and, having had a training phase in the lockdown period, which allowed everyone to find out how it works, there was a peak in the opening of new accounts, of competitor players on the various platforms. Therefore, operators need to increase the online part, if they want to continue offering gaming in their countries.”

Ewa Bakun, Director of Industry Insight and Engagement, confirms the trend: “According to a survey made by us on 3 thousand people, only 42 percent of interviewed said they were optimistic about the future of their organization, compared to 70 percent of the optimists of the same survey of 2019”. Bakun also points out that “there is a growth in online, not as regards sports betting that has almost all stopped, but also in the United Kingdom there has been a wave of interest in virtual sports and eSports” .

Just think to “the Grand National of horse racing, which this year took place in virtual mode, attracting 5 million viewers, with profits of around 3 million pounds, that were donated to the British health service”. Bakun mentions other research, which shows that 2020 Ggr will be 16 percent lower than that of 2019, but online growth will also be from 30 to 50 percent and will be mainly driven by poker and casino. In particular, poker will have a growth of 150 percent and that of the casino from 20 to 30 percent, while participation in the online gaming will grow by 16 percent, compared to the expected 13 percent. And he ends: “Now is the time to be clearer and more generous, both in the online and in the land-based scope. We must be careful in our desire to offer entertainment, be sensitive to the risks. The sector must be proactive to heal its reputation which is not very good. Nothing will be the same as before.”

As regards online gaming, Enrico Bradamante, president of the iGaming European Network, adds: “Today there has been a negative impact on the sports betting front, but many companies and suppliers are exposed, in particular on the casino and poker front. Various companies have saw an increase in turnover on their products, while operators in general have shifted the focus from the stores to eSports, virtual and other products, so in total the total figure I see in Malta is of a drop in revenues, perhaps of a 5, 10 percent: it is not a dramatic situation as in other countries “. As for the future, “the online part is benefiting and will benefit from this situation. As regards the operations of the companies, they will be able to achieve higher operating efficiencies. Now in Malta companies have large offices, where they have room for all employees, in the future we will have a situation in which the company will have an office that will serve to keep 50 percent of the staff, the others will work from home, in a sort of rotation, we will not go back to the previous situation at 100 percent”.

20 Apr 2020

Lottery leaders to address COVID-19 crisis at SBC Digital Summit High-profile figures from major European lotteries and US state lotteries are set to participate in the SBC Digital Summit to share their experiences of adapting to the new market conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

High-profile figures from major European lotteries and US state lotteries are set to participate in the SBC Digital Summit to share their experiences of adapting to the new market conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.