A record number of eGaming professionals joined KPMG on the Sunborn Gibraltar on Thursday 3rd April for what one notable speaker jokingly described as the first ‘on-liner’ gaming conference in the world. Over 230 delegates drawn from regulators, operators, non-licensable businesses, law firms, payments providers, telecoms and data specialists boarded the 5 star floating hotel to discuss cutting edge issues as diverse as taxation, regulation, crypto-currencies, and anti-money laundering, as well as gain an insight into the present state of the global industry.
Following registration and morning coffee, sponsored by Counting House, the morning’s proceedings kicked off with an opening address by Gibraltar’s Minister for Financial Services and Gaming, the Hon. Albert Isola. Minister Isola outlined the Government’s commitment to maintaining a world leading environment for its 28 licensees, and congratulated the industry for a series of expansions which has seen its employee base grow from 2,000 to 3,000 individuals in just 9 years. Gibraltar’s Gambling Commissioner, Phill Brear, then took over with his regulator’s update, an essential feature of the summit, before Jansen Reyes of domestic telecommunications provider Gibtelecom provided an exciting and interactive presentation of Gibraltar as a telecoms hub, and the many challenges it faces as a leader in its field. In keeping with the theme of infrastructure and telecommunications, Nick Nally, Chief Development Officer at Continent 8 then offered a jurisdictional comparison and benchmarking of Gibraltar’s offering, before an international panel of representatives from DLA Piper UK, Spain, Italy, Germany and KPMG Netherlands discussed the evolution of remote gambling regulation across Europe, moderated by DLA’s own Stephen Ketteley.
Following lunch at the Sunborn’s Sky Restaurant, supported by Standard Bank, the afternoon’s proceedings commenced with the second of the day’s three panel sessions, moderated by KPMG’s Archie Watt. Together, Counting House’s Paul Davis, Ukash’s Stephen Quinn, Ian Benson of Maclay, Murray & Spens, and Eric Benz, Chair of the UK Digital Currency Association, tackled the contentious but fascinating topic of crypto-currencies and their place in the eGaming landscape in a debate on ‘Bitcoins & Beyond: payments, conventional and alternative’. Standard Bank’s Matt Gorman then took over with a complementary presentation entitled ‘Digital Banking – Africa leapfrogging the developed world’, which demonstrated to operators how Standard Bank is using mobile technology to transform how it interacts with its African customers and corporate partners through their smart phones. Occupying the final slot before afternoon coffee was a joint presentation provided by the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association’s Peter Howitt, and last minute stand-in Paul Leyland of Regulus Partners (after the Association of British Bookmakers’ CEO, Dirk Vennix, was unavoidably delayed), discussing the opportunities for the industry bodies to speak with one voice and the importance of them doing so.
Drawing the day’s proceedings to a close following afternoon coffee, provided by Hassans, Sir Peter Caruana gave a spirited address in his capacity as an industry expert, QC and former Chief Minister on ‘The Dangers of the UK Point of Consumption Licensing and Taxation Regime’. Peter Montegriffo of Hassans then brought together a stellar final panel; Michael Carlton (BetVictor), Martin Weigold (bwin.party), Juergen Reutter (William Hill) and Archie Watt (KPMG); to discuss the outlook for gaming both in Gibraltar and worldwide. The KPMG eGaming team then took to the stage to thank speakers and delegates, and to invite all attendees to the Sunborn’s Sapphire Bar for drinks and canapés. Russell Kelly, KPMG’s Director for eGaming, was delighted to announce the appointment to director of Archie Watt, KPMG’s Head of eGaming, in a final highlight of the day.
Commenting on the success of this year’s eGaming Summit in Gibraltar Micky Swindale, Managing Director of KPMG Gibraltar, said: “When we first embarked upon organising a Summit for Gibraltar eGaming professionals, we wanted to provide an open, academically focused forum to promote and enhance the maturity of this industry. That was three years ago, and it’s incredible to see the momentum it has gained.” Archie Watt agreed: “This year was our most successful eGaming Summit to date, with over 230 individuals from across the globe signing up to engage with the industry’s top representatives, or simply to gain a better understanding of how it has progressed. Despite thunder storms and the logistical challenges of a brand new venue, the day was great fun and in stunning surroundings aboard the Sunborn. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who was involved and who attended, and to invite you all to join us again in Gibraltar in 2015.”