Honored to be joined by SiGMA founder Eman Pulis on show #89! Eman has been in the iGaming events space for a while now, and talks a bit about how they are adjusting to Covid-19 times.

 

Video from Eman Pulis Interview

Show notes from Eman Pulis Interview

Ryan Knuppel: All right. Welcome back to another episode of the Knup Sports Show. I’m your host, Ryan Knuppel here with you each and every time, I appreciate everybody joining us. Today we have a super special guest, we have Eman Pulis with us, Eman’s with the SiGMA Group. Eman, are you here?

Eman Pulis: Thanks for being here.

Ryan Knuppel: I appreciate you joining me, Eman. This is a very special interview for me. I know we connected and met, I think back in New Jersey when I spoke at one of you guys’ events there. And ever since been hoping to get you on the show and just learn a little bit more about what makes you tick, so thank you for joining.

Eman Pulis: Definitely.

Ryan Knuppel: Awesome. So give us a little background of, you’re the founder of the SiGMA Group and SiGMA’s kind of one of these event groups that are really booming in the site gaming space. Give us a little background of how you started that.

Eman Pulis: Yeah. Well, today SiGMA is probably the largest show, at least until COVID hit it was probably the largest show in the world dedicated purely to online gambling. And that includes casino, it includes sports betting but now we’re seeing the dynamics change a lot since last January when COVID hit. But a bit of a background about the company, it started back in 2013 with a small community gathering in Malta. Malta is a hub for online gaming companies because it was the country to regulate the space first. So a lot of companies flocked to Malta because they wanted to operate in a safe environment. So I had this show back in 2014, it was the first year and slowly, slowly, it grew into a show that hosts over 15,000 business delegates from the industry.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s amazing. That’s a pretty big [inaudible 00:01:50] it’s a pretty big event to try to put on. I mean, you guys must have a very nice team to be able to pull off an event that large, huh?

Eman Pulis: Yeah. Well, I started the show on my own, it was a one-man dream [inaudible 00:02:03] from my bedroom and but now we’re a robust team of around 40 people now.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s amazing. So tell me a little bit more, so that’s the big show that you have but I now see you’re doing all sorts of a spinoff shows. You’re doing some roadshows and you’re doing shows in different regions and across different topics and things like that. So give us a little bit about, I guess your expansion into that space.

Eman Pulis: Yeah. So we have two big shows. I mentioned the one in Malta earlier on but we also have a big show in Manila. So we’re targeting the hub of Europe in Malta but we’re also targeting the hub of Asia and that’s in Manila, Philippines. That’s where most online gambling companies are based and so there’s two big shows there but to keep fueling the appetites for these shows, we do what we call the roadshows. And I remember that’s where you and I met-

Ryan Knuppel: Sure, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Eman Pulis: … in New Jersey, New Jersey is also a hub for online gambling. The States has regulated the space among other states so we took the opportunity to meet some of our friends from the States. And that’s when we had the show in New Jersey, we had another one in New York focusing more on the blockchain and the AI technology. So we keep ourselves busy 12 months a year as much as possible.

Ryan Knuppel: So what’s your plan for the US? I’m curious, being here in the US I’m here, I’m very interested in that industry and in that space. What is you guys’ plan-

Eman Pulis: Oh, man.

Ryan Knuppel: … planning any other [crosstalk 00:03:43] events there?

Eman Pulis: There’s so much going on. If you look back I believe it was one of the latest bills that George W. Bush had signed before leaving office. It was banning online gambling. I stand to be corrected but I believe it was the case. So it was one of the last bills he signed before leaving his office and that banned online gambling forever. However, as of lately, a number of states are starting to regulate the space once again. And let’s make one thing straight now, states do not regulate gambling because they want people to play. They regulate the space because they realize there’s so much online gambling activity happening in the black market and that’s all unregulated. The customer is fully unprotected because there’s no regulation protecting them and the government is collecting basically no taxes from it. So I think a lot of governments across different states, they are realizing that, hey, regulating the space and allowing a safe environment where people can gamble, is the way to go.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, I agree and I definitely, I see the United States moving in that direction. I’m curious, are you guys planning any roadshows back this way anytime soon?

Eman Pulis: Oh yeah, man, any excuse for me to head back. I call US home almost, I love the place so much. I’ve lived there a couple of times as well but beyond the personal appetite for the US, I believe it’s going to become the dominant market. Once it’s regulated across all states or at federal level, the amounts and the high level of online gambling that we’re going to see regulated coming from the States is going to be unprecedented.

Ryan Knuppel: Agreed again.

Eman Pulis: Keep in mind at the moment there’s a lot of activity happening on DFS, games of skills on Daily Fantasy Sports. So you have FanDuel, DraftKings and I believe once sports betting is regulated across states, we’re going to see an uptake in that direction.

Ryan Knuppel: I agree. I definitely agree with that as well. So we’re sitting in the middle of kind of an interesting time here in the middle of this COVID-19 pandemic and no sports going on for the sports betting fans. But that really made kind of a shift into the online casino and online esports and things like that have really picked up interest since then. Tell me a little bit about I guess, one, first question is how has this pandemic affected your business at all? If any at all.

Eman Pulis: Well, we’re getting our ass kicked. I’ll call a spade a spade. I’m a big hugger myself, I love to meet people and I believe a lot of the industry delegates they also love to do business over pints of beer. So yes, it’s hitting us substantially however, we’re quite agile in innovating and we have a lot of new avenues that we’re working on. But how is COVID affecting the industry as a whole? Well, the casino industry, so those land-based casinos what in the US I believe a lot of tribal casinos have been hit bad. Because you see a lot of casinos operating on the indigenous land where they have their own laws where they can operate. So those land-based casinos, they’re being slaughtered at the moment because of all the lockdowns. And people are migrating instead to online casinos so people who love playing slots and they can’t go to a casino to play slots. Or to play a poker game, they’re going online to get their craving fixed now and on top of that, however, then you have sports betting.

Eman Pulis: So those guys who love to gamble on sports, whether it’s UFC, whether it’s NBA, whether it’s whatever. All those games are also on lockdown. Well, the UFC just opened up but a lot of national sports is on lockdown so where do I get my fix? Where do I enjoy gambling my 20 bucks? And a lot of players surprisingly are moving into a couple of directions. Some are moving into esports betting, so instead of betting on the Lakers, I’m going to bet on this teenage kid who’s a champion in World of Warcraft or in FIFA. And a lot of sports betting is moving there, into esports betting and a lot of betting is also moving to virtual sports betting. So there’s virtual adaptations of the real sports and players are finding it interesting to bet on that scenario as well.

Ryan Knuppel: I think that was a really good recap of what’s going on. I appreciate you kind of putting it out there and showing us a little bit about what’s going on. I know both esports and virtual sports are hot topics here and with the up and coming generation of kids playing all these games and things like that. I think it’s only going to grow as well but I appreciate you kind of laying that out and going from there so.

Eman Pulis: Yeah, and it’s interesting to see what’s in store in the future. Will esports teams see an uptake of corporate sponsorships coming from the big sponsor. Usually, you see the big gaming sponsors, like bet365, PokerStars, you see them in stadiums, you see them on the gears of football clubs. So will we start seeing a shift of the sponsorship money towards esports teams, will the two come closer together? It’s interesting to see how this unfolds.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. Very interesting. So what’s the next event? What do you guys have scheduled? Do you have anything virtually scheduled? Do you have anything still set in stone? Tell the listeners a little bit about how they can get involved with SiGMA here in the coming months.

Eman Pulis: Yeah. So our next big show was going to take place in a couple of weeks, three weeks in Manila the Philippines but because of the strict lockdown in the region. And also because we want to protect ultimately our clients, we feel it would be too risky to hold anything in person. We decided to shift our conference virtually so yes, unfortunately, there won’t be an expo, which is one of my favorite parts where people network and discover new products. But there will be a very well-curated conference, much better than we could have managed in person and I’ll explain why. We have some of the best speakers that we’ve ever come across in the past seven years. Because all the speakers we approach they don’t have to take three days, four days, five days off their schedule to fly in and fly out.

Ryan Knuppel: Sure.

Eman Pulis: It’s so much easier to get the world’s best tuned in on Zoom for this conference that we’ve managed to come up with a lineup that is unprecedented. So come 8th, 9th and 10th of June, any gaming company that is focusing on and expanding their business into Asia, I would strongly suggest they tune into this conference.

Ryan Knuppel: Amazing. So you said that was June 8th, 9th, and 10th, right?

Eman Pulis: June 8th, 9th, 10th.

Ryan Knuppel: Awesome.

Eman Pulis: The focus is purely on online gambling expansion into Asia.

Ryan Knuppel: Cool. Very good, very good. We’ll-

Eman Pulis: And let’s-

Ryan Knuppel: Go ahead.

Eman Pulis: I mean the US is extremely exciting because states are regulating the space but let’s make no mistake and when we talk about Asia, we’re talking about a market of 4.5 billion people. I mean, that’s more than half the world’s population.

Ryan Knuppel: Right. I think it’s like comparing apples to oranges, right? I mean it’s just a different market and a different world when you go with Asia.

Eman Pulis: Stuff is exciting, yeah.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. Well, that’s amazing. Well, cool. Well, I don’t want to keep you I know you’re a very busy man. I definitely appreciate you coming here. If any of the listeners wanted to contact you or wanted to just learn more about SiGMA, where would they go to find out more about your events and yourself?

Eman Pulis: Yeah, sigma.ph.

Ryan Knuppel: Okay.

Eman Pulis: Ph for Philippines, that’s the next show so sigma.ph or find me on any social media from Facebook to LinkedIn. My name is Eman Pulis and I look forward to meeting you there.

Ryan Knuppel: Awesome, Eman, that was very good, I appreciate you being here. I wish you all the luck in the world and I hope we can sit down over a pint of beer at the next show. Whenever we can get back out, we’ll sit down and we’ll enjoy a beverage and just meet face to face and get one of those little hugs.

Eman Pulis: Man, I look forward to that.

Ryan Knuppel: All right, buddy. Well, I appreciate you being here and good luck with everything. If you ever need anything, you know where to reach me.

Eman Pulis: Likewise, take it easy.

Ryan Knuppel: All right, sir. Thank you. Bye-bye.

Relevant for Eman Pulis Links

  • Learn more about SiGMA at https://Sigma.ph
  • Find Eman on any social media profiles at Eman Pulis.

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