The Leadership in Gaming track at the SBC Digital Summit is set to feature a selection of the industry’s leading CEOs sharing their experiences of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on online casino and slots operators, and detailing how they have reacted to it.

Taking place on Tuesday 28 April, the second day of the groundbreaking online conference and exhibition for the betting and gaming industry, the agenda for the Pragmatic Play-sponsored track features sessions that tackle the biggest issues currently facing the casino sector. 

It opens with ‘Gaming – The Industry’s Lifeline’, an examination of the extent to which the lack of sporting action to bet on has influenced the level of player activity at online casinos. The panel includes Alexander Stevendahl (CEO, Videoslots), Itai Zak (CEO, GoWild Gaming), Ariel Reem (CEO, Genesis Group) and Alex Tomic (CEO, Slotsmillion), with 

Ivan Filletti (COO, Gaming Malta) in the moderator’s seat.

As experts prepare to share their knowledge across a variety of markets, ‘Poker to the Rescue?’ is to look into what the vertical has to offer the modern bettor. It will feature insights from Dmitry Starostenkov (CEO, EvenBet Gaming) and Ivonne Montealegre (Founder & Event Director, Malta Poker Festival), with Jonas Odman (Founder and CEO, Rising Sun Media) the moderator.

One of the day’s key sessions will address safer gambling during isolation and the change that customer behaviour is currently undergoing. It features Martin Lycka (Director of Regulatory Affairs, GVC Holdings), David Williams (Director of Regulatory Affairs, Rank Group) and Avigail Nir (COO, Mansion Casino), with Andy Danson (Partner, Bird & Bird) on moderating duty.

Lycka said: “Online offerings, such as the SBC Digital Summit, are a welcome opportunity to exchange ideas on the latest regulatory and other developments in the industry, including those resulting from the testing times of late. 

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“The SBC Digital Summit will bring together a lot of talent from across the industry, which I’m certain will demonstrate our resilience and responsibility in response to the crisis. I guess the Summit will also break most people’s home isolation routines consisting in alternatively taking calls from the kitchen and the lounge.”

Williams said: “If the industry believed that the scrutiny it was facing from media and political quarters was severe before the pandemic, COVID-19 made everyone think again. Operators are facing up to the challenges of delivering strategic, well-intentioned plans using a dispersed and often reduced workforce, whilst also rolling out emergency measures, and all set against an expectation in some quarters that we will make fewer mistakes. 

“In spite of this challenging backdrop, the opportunities for the industry to showcase its authenticity and the rewards for doing stuff right are enormous; a host of regulatory issues are rattling down the post-pandemic line and when we are asked to show how we responded when the time came, our ability to answer decisively and with an enlightened view of our role in society could set the tone of the discussion for years to come.”

The day will continue with an examination of live casino during lockdown, looking at how the vertical has handled studio shutdowns and how effectively it has coped with the added demand resulting from the closure of land-based casinos. The panelists include Jeremy Taylor (MD, Genting Online), Richard Atkinson (Head of Live Casino, William Hill), Tim de Borle (COO, Napoleon Sports & Casino) and Sam Brown (CCO, Hero Gaming), with Karolina Pelc (Owner, Basic Strategy) moderating. 

Jan Urbanec (CEO, Endorphina), alongside Ewa Kazmierska (COO, EnergyCasino), Neill Simpson (Brand Director, William Hill International) and moderator James Bennett (Director, Square in the Air), continue by looking at ‘Marketing Slots in the New Environment’. One of the key issues the panel will examine is how operators can effectively promote their games without looking like they are trying to cash in on difficult circumstances. 

“Digital conferences will play a key role in communication in the industry during the upcoming months,” Urbanec said. “The defining factor of their success will be the format, organization, and innovative approach to networking.”

The track concludes with a session conducted in Spanish titled ‘España, Operación Puesta en Marcha – La Ejecución de la Estrategia’. The panel exploring the role of online casinos in Spain includes David Plumi (Managing Director Spain, Betsson Group), Eduardo Miranda (MD Bingosoft, Rank Group), Alex Zubizarreta (Country Manager Spain, Interwetten) and Samantha Asensi (Regional Manager, Bet Entertainment). 

Stewart Darkin, Managing Director of SBC’s CasinoBeats brand, said: “As the sector comes to terms with a new reality that is affecting all working practices and verticals, the SBC Digital Summit is the perfect opportunity for the gaming industry to come together and assess the new landscape.

“Accordingly, the Leadership in Gaming track deals with some familiar themes in a new way but also specifically addresses the challenge presented by the COVID-19 crisis, as the sector looks to its leaders – so many of whom are contributing to the Summit.”

The SBC Digital Summit runs from 27 April to 1 May 2020 and features six other conference tracks focused on Leadership in Betting, Latin America, lotteries, payments, the US market and digital marketing.

An estimated 10,000 delegates logging in from around the world can also take in a virtual exhibition featuring the latest offerings from the betting and gaming industry’s most innovative suppliers, attend the numerous product demos and special webinars at the exhibition booths, and make valuable new contacts in the virtual networking lounges.