High profile eGaming Summit covers key sector developments

 Now an established fixture in the international eBusiness calendar, this year’s KPMG eGaming Summit Isle of Man was a tremendous success, drawing over 200 delegates from around the world to the Villa Marina on 10th November. Adopting a lively and interactive format, this year’s Summit combined keynote presentations with stimulating panel sessions. This year, the event added a new element of live polling which allowed the audience to answer questions posed by the speaker via software in real time.

It was KPMG’s sixth summit locally, and eleventh in a series across Gibraltar and the Isle of Man. The summit brought together key stakeholders and industry representatives in an open forum to discuss the future of the global online gaming industry and its implications for local e-business clusters. Once again this year KPMG teamed up with the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL) to deliver three Masterclasses covering “The International Legal Viewpoint”, “Financing the Consolidation Boom”, and “International Direct & Indirect Tax Considerations”.
Following a delegate breakfast kindly sponsored by Manx Telecom, the Summit opened with a welcome address by the Hon. Laurence Skelly MHK, Minister for the Department of Economic Development. Minister Skelly provided a brief overview of the continued success of the Island’s eGaming sector, which has outstripped individual areas of financial services to become the largest single sector, at 16.7% of the economy (an increase of 3.2%) before introducing the day’s first speakers, Mark Robson, Head of eGaming at the Isle of Man Government, and Mark Rutherford, Deputy Chief Executive at the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission. The presentation provided an overview of regulation and economic development in the local sector.
This was followed by a captivating panel session on technology developments, moderated by Archie Watt, Head of eGaming and IT Advisory at KPMG. A strong panel consisted of Stephen Trimble, Head of Product at Continent 8 Technologies, Helen Walton, Marketing Director at Gamevy and Andrew Tottenham, Managing Director of Tottenham & Co. Providing the audience with an insight into recent technology developments, the panel also focused on the perils and positives of cloud computing, with Helen Walton commenting: “The regulation drives the technology choice, not the other way round. This becomes a massive up front cost for start-ups”.
The next presentation gave delegates the opportunity to consider the psychology of gambling, with a presentation by Dr Jonathan Parke, Founder and Principal at Sophro, entitled “Gambling, Leisure and Pleasure: Exploring Psychological Need Satisfaction in Gambling”. Dr. Parke provided an insight into the attractions of gambling, exploring whether psychosocial benefits may be derived from gambling participation. Dr. Parke posed the question to the audience, ‘which form of gambling provides the most pleasure?’ Interestingly the result was sports betting at 43% over poker, casino table games and then slots. 
The IMGL Masterclass “Financing the Consolidation Boom” followed, moderated by Susan Breen, partner at Mishcon de Reya LLP. The panel consisted of David Shapton, partner at Akur Capital, Chris Treneman, Managing Director at Investec Investment Banking UK, Linda Main, Head of UK Capital Markets at KPMG UK and Daniel Macadam, Managing Editor (Europe) at Gambling Compliance. Mr. Shapton commented, with regard to M&A activity and mid-market operators, “With increased regulation, more and more private investment houses are becoming comfortable with the idea of investing in online gambling companies, which wasn’t the case five years ago.”
Following lunch, kindly sponsored by PokerStars, Jennifer Houghton, Managing Director at Annexio Limited spoke about “The Multi-jurisdictional Licencing Process”. Ms. Houghton provided a comprehensive overview of the licensing process, noting the benefits of the Isle of Man: “One of the key strengths of the Isle of Man is its approach to customer protection. The segregation of player’s funds from that of the company is not just good practice, but also a sure winner when it comes to describing the situation to potential customers.”
When asked views on corporate social responsibility activities, the majority of the audience (65%) considered it to be equally important for all companies, with only 28% feeling it was of particular importance in the gaming sector. This topic was explored further in the next panel on “Social Responsibility in Gaming”, moderated by Micky Swindale, Director at KPMG. Ms Swindale was joined by David Schollenberger, Partner and Head of Gaming Team at Healys LLP, Dr Jonathan Parke of Sophro, Mark Reynolds, Director at Newfield Limited, Janine Woodford Dale, Head of Marketing, Events and PR at Microgaming and Sue Hammett, Head of Corporate Giving at Pokerstars, to discuss “Social Responsibility in Gaming”. Mrs. Woodford-Dale underlined the benefits to corporations in having a CSR policy: “Consumers now are savvy. They want to buy from companies that give back.” 
Focus then moved to incubation and innovation, with Bernard Marantelli, Founder and CEO of Colossus Bets, discussing trends in internet, mobile and smartphone usage and the drivers of innovation and technology development. He discussed some common issues faced by start-ups vs. big firms when seeking to innovate and also some ideas on how to tackle the ever-changing nature of technology. 
The final panel session, moderated by Russell Kelly, Director at KPMG, took a look forward to next year. Stephen Ketteley, Partner at DLA Piper, Bill Mummery, Director ofCelton Manx, James Agnew, Director at KPMG UK and Paul Novellie, Partner at Novellie, Veradi & Mitchell shared their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in 2016. 
This year’s closing address was also provided by Russell Kelly, who thanked speakers, panellists, attendees and event sponsors, Continent 8 Technologies, Derivco, Manx Telecom, SMP Partners, W2 Global Data, Nedbank, Poker Stars, and media partners iGaming Business, Gambling Insider and World Casino Directory. Mr. Kelly paid particular thanks to event organisers Ashgrove Marketing, as well as Summit partners IMGL for providing a seminal addition to what is now one of the global industry’s most celebrated calendar events, saying “We couldn’t put these events together each year without the intellectual, organisational and promotional contributions all these people bring to us. It is a great pleasure to see KPMG at the centre of such a committed and distinguished grouping.”
Commenting on the Summit, organiser Micky Swindale said: “KPMG are proud to once again have the opportunity to bring together industry leaders for one of the premier thought leadership events for this sector. Despite facing some well-publicised challenges, it is clear that this key area of the Isle of Man economy continues to go from strength to strength.”
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