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If you went into a bar in the late 1800s in or around New York City, it might have been called, The Burnt Rag, Milligan’s Hell or even, Chick Tricker’s Flea Bag. You could have had a punch made of hot rum, whiskey, camphor, benzene and cocaine, and had a better than average chance of finding a gambling machine created by a New York based company called, Sittman and Pitt.
What happens in Italy after the entry into force of the Dignity decree? How does marketing change for online operators? These are the questions of the moment that will be at the center of Sigma Malta.
After the entry into force of the Dignity decree and the total ban on advertising related to it, the Italian public gaming sector – and, in particular, the online segment – is into almost complete uncertainty as regards communication and marketing activities that can be carried out in the coming months. That is, starting from next summer and from July 2019: deadline set by the same decree, by which advertising campaigns that had already been contracted at the entry into force of the provision must end (the text, approved on July, the 13th, 2018, grants a transitional year, but only for existing agreements). A hot, even very hot topic, which burns increasingly out as the days and months go by (four months have passed since the entry into force of the law, and any clarification has not yet come), given that gaming companies are already struggling with budget definitions for next year and in many cases are at a crossroad of having to choose whether to cut their communication and marketing departments, converting them into other activities (if it is possible) or in some cases, a staff reduction. The latter is the most frequent solution, also taking into account the reduction of the business that could be generated by these restrictions.
THE “ITALY CASE” IN MALTA – A problem that weighs heavy on the companies of the sector: especially those only operating in the online sector, where marketing campaigns are the basis of the business: uncertainty increases here, on the present and on the future, which is also internationally reflected, given that most online companies are active in multiple markets. In this very complex scenario, falsified by the projection of the dignity decree, the 2018 edition of SiGma Malta (28-30 November, 2018) arrives: an event that has now become the reference point for the online gaming industry at European level, and the “Italian case” becomes even more central into it. Yes, because Italy has always been a fundamental testing ground for online companies, and a fundamental benchmark for everyone, besides being (and indeed, for this reason) the main market in the world. But now that there is a total ban on advertising, the question of the Italian insiders becomes a general one, extending to the entire gaming world. Hence, the desire to deal with the Italy case into the series of conferences hosted by the Malta show, in a panel organized with the support of GiocoNews.it, where experts and representatives of industry participate.
To take stock of the situation, given the endless questions that are continually asked from abroad, and try to identify some answers. The lawyer Rodolfo La Rosa of Baker McKenzie will talk of it; he will have the task of frame the case on a legal and regulatory level, trying to interpret the law; while Marco Castaldo, General Manager of Microgame, and Barbara Beltrami, head of Unibet in Italy and vice president of Logico, representing Italian online operators, will represent the industry. In a debate moderated by Christian Tirabassi, Senior partner of Ficom Leisure. In the panel, which will take place in the early afternoon of Thursday, November, the 29th, we will try to identify possible solutions and alternatives that can be seen in the light of the ban. However, assuming that they are really possible, waiting to know the opinion of the competent Authority: that is, the Agcom, which promised an intervention through guidelines, in order to answer the endless questions from the industry, even if it is not yet clear when such directions will arrive. And meanwhile the sector lives in uncertainty.
THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNICATION – Gaming, as is well known and clear, lives on advertising, promotion and marketing campaigns, which have the double value: commercial and institutional one. If, on the one hand, advertising is essential for operators to propose their offer and compete in the market (not so much to have new players, in a perhaps saturated market, but mostly to steal users from the competitor), from the other hand communication in general is essential to make the legal offer distinguishable from the illegal one. In a sector that is still victim of criminal infiltration; we seen it more in detail in recent days, with the operations of the Direzione nazionale antimafia in the South. And not for nothing, even the European Commission in its 2014 Recommendation referring to online gaming, explained that it was dangerous to ban gaming advertising (since even then there were forces in this sense, although not coming, at the time, from Italy) because of the implications in terms of illegality and consumer safety. But now there is a ban and the operators will have to roll up their sleeves to design their business again: but regulators too, which will have to regulate a one of a kind provision, both internationally and in our system.
NEW BORDERS OF GAMING – Beyond the “traditional” online gaming and bans, we will also talk about much more and of new opportunities for the industry in Malta. Also in an Italian key. In particular, the new frontiers of gaming represented by eSports – very strong even in the island – and Fantasy Sports, more and more present in our country, will be explored at Sigma. The theme of electronic sports will be dealt with in a session entirely dedicated to the new phenomenon, organized on Friday, November, the 30th, the third and last day of the show. Various experts will talk, with the participation of GiocoNews.it again, called to illustrate their experience on the eSports subject, also in the light of the forthcoming debut of the new online newspaper dedicated to electronic sports (eSportsMag.it), which will enrich the Italian gaming network starting from December 2018.
While Daily Fantasy Sports will be proposed on the same day of November, the 29th, proposing the Italian experience here, too, with the general director of Microgame provider, Marco Castaldo, which will bring the experience of its gaming network, which was one the first ones to integrate a complete range of Fantasy Sports into their platforms, diversifying and completing their gaming portfolio. And who knows that this type of gaming offers can represent a valid alternative, or in any case an excuse, for the insiders, in the definition of the new market in the light of new regulatory restrictions. In Malta, they will try to explain this too.