The first day of the SBC Digital Summit is almost in the books, and this has been an incredibly successful launch. From the moment the virtual doors opened this morning, attendance has been extremely high, with the entire gaming industry coming together to work toward a post-coronavirus world. A lot of time and effort went into making sure that the conference would go off without a hitch, given the number of people that needed to connect, and the hard work has paid off. The afternoon schedule for the first day continued to supply an endless supply of data and information for the gaming ecosystem, covering a wide variety of topics that prove how resilient the space is, and how it plans on bouncing back once things are able to return to normal.

sbc-digital-summit-analyzes-esports-free-to-play-and-spainGetting things going for the afternoon presentations was Cillian Barry, managing director of Sportcaller. The company, which offers free-to-play (FTP) solutions for existing gaming companies such as William Hill, the Kindred Group and more, made the most of the coronavirus-forced downtime to review the market segment and determine what is, and what isn’t working. All evidence points to the fact that FTP offerings can help an operator both retain its customer base, as well as attract new users. The current downtime is allowing the company to refine its solutions, which will enable operators to even better service customers after COVID-19 is brought under control.

When that happens, there will be three stages of recovery for the industry. Things like esports and online gaming offerings will be able to get going first in stage one, followed by limited live sports activity in stage two. This could include Germany’s Bundesliga soccer in May and the PGA in June, which are currently in the works. Stage three will include a fully-blown relaunch of sports, but when this might happen is still uncertain. With a little bit of luck, this could perhaps take place within the next three months, with NFL football following its normal schedule beginning in September.

One of the biggest winners of the coronavirus pandemic has been esports. Unlike all other sports activity, esports has the unique advantage of being able to almost seamlessly transition to an online gaming sector with little downtime. Many esports tournaments are held in front of live audiences, but are still played over virtual connections, and these events can still take place while the majority of the world’s sports are on lockdown.

This presentation brought together some of the heaviest hitters in the esports industry, including Pinnacle, Parimatch, RTSmunity and Neosurf. What they have all seen is an important rise in the attention being paid to esports, both as a sport and a gambling alternative. Some entities in the space, such as Parimatch, are seeing ten times more traffic than they saw before COVID-19, and this trend will continue. Provided the industry is willing to implement better transparency and integrity, which are always major topics, expanded esports gambling will be found. Nevada and New Jersey have already approved some forms of esports wagers, and this is just the beginning.

Later in the afternoon, some of the leading gambling companies in Spain got together to share their thoughts on the status of the market in the country. Spain has been hit hard by the coronavirus, and it has definitely taken its toll on the economy. The majority of independent gaming operators will have a hard time rebounding once they’re allowed to resume their activity, with as many as 90% finding themselves in a losing proposition.

The operators are currently doing what they can to help their employees survive and are going to great lengths to keep those individuals from feeling too much stress. Kirolbet, for example, has taken a hit, but is still giving its employees 90% of their salary, as well as already having paid the workers’ summer bonus. With the possibility of Spain being close to lifting the country-wide shutdown, to some degree, within a week or two, the recovery process could begin soon.

A push is on by Spanish gaming operators to receive the same level of economic support afforded to other commercial industries. When the government ordered gaming companies to halt their advertising campaigns due to the coronavirus, they were happy to comply, but the financial stimulus the government is willing to provide to certain business sectors needs to be extended to the gaming sector, which has become of the fastest-growing sectors in the country in recent years.

Wrapping up the day was an incredibly insightful presentation by Jonathan Smith, the founder of Sportsbook Training Services. He provided a Masterclass seminar that showed how to build a long-term simulation for sports gambling, using the Premier League as an example. It doesn’t require a great deal of technical knowledge or expensive software – in fact, it can be done right within Excel. While the steps would be too complicated to include here, his training on Masterclass is a must for anyone looking to create winning analysis for the sports gambling activity.

The SBC Digital Summit still has 4 days of great panels and talks to go. Check out the lineup of expert speakers the event has to offer, and register so you don’t miss out on the most in depth analysis of today’s gambling industry.


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