Gioco News: Sustainability must drive both our choices and operations

Tomorrow marks the start of the SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital, and our sponsors have been ramping up preparations for the event – giving us the rundown on what they will be showcasing, and what they’re most looking forward to.

In a chat with SBC, Gioco News’ Alessio Crisantemi discusses how recent months have played in the favour of the online gaming sector and how the pandemic has pushed operators to aim for M&A agreements or solutions to remain competitive on the market.

What are you looking forward to at the SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital?

I’m expecting an edition rich in content and extremely topical, in line with the other events organised by SBC, where the content always makes the difference. This year, in gaming as in any other sector, the Covid-19 emergency suddenly came, interrupting everyday life and upsetting the plans for the near and immediate future of each company. 

For this reason, a more general and transversal subject has been added to the more specific and traditional issues concerning the various sectors of gaming that are normally dealt with in this type of events, concerning the sustainability of the entire gaming industry and some specific branches. 

It is clear to everyone that many things will have to change in the gaming sector, and some are already changing: both from the point of view of the regulation and the technical and operational one, so of the product too. I believe that during the SBC Summit it will be possible to see the change already underway in Europe and to deepen the trends for the near future, which has already begun.

What would be your biggest bit of advice for betting and gaming businesses trying to mitigate the impact of COVID-19?

As has already become clear, in the sector and beyond, Covid has compromised the operations of the ‘land-based’ sector, therefore of the Retail world, while it has represented, in a completely opposite way, an accelerator for the online segment. This scenario has unavoidably favored those operators who in previous times had invested in digitalization and, in particular, in multichanneling. Both in terms of process and product. 

These realities found themselves having a competitive advantage over the others, but this it doesn’t mean that those who are left behind have to disappear: there is still time to intervene and the advice I would like to give is precisely to focus on the digitization of systems – both at b2b and b2c levels – pursuing a true multichannel approach, intended as a ‘hybridization’ of its offer. It is indeed clear that retail will never disappear and will probably always prevail. But there will be different ways to interface with consumers, because users will have different approaches. And this is certainly time to dare and to give space to innovation and, why not, also to imagination.

The biggest advice I can give, however, is not to focus only on products and services, but to make an extra effort, without setting aside or forgetting the other problems that the gaming sector was facing before the pandemic, such as that of the social impact of gaming and, consequently, on the responsibilities of operators. 

In fact, I believe that in the so-called ‘new normal’ that the sector is preparing to face, the watchword that must drive every choice and every operation must be: sustainability. Every decision must therefore be made with the impact on society in mind and in terms of responsible gaming. For this reason, I believe that the operators of redefining their general strategies will have to give more and more importance and attention to communication: also in this case thinking in a multichannel way, but above all in a responsible and sustainable way.

What are you promoting at SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital?

As an editorial group skilled in the gaming world, in every event we offer our content and products of interest to the reference industry. In addition to the Gioco News network, consisting of the online newspaper and the monthly paper magazine Gioco News ( that operators can read in digital version from our stand or obtain a subscription to the printed version), we present our newspaper, which represents the first and only Italian online newspaper fully dedicated to electronic sports, in a business key.

In addition, in our booth you can also find and order our books, related to gaming subjects: it is a series of essay writing dedicated to gaming that we started in 2016 and we publish a book every year, the latest of which, in 2019, concerned the rising esports industry.

What industry innovation will capture the most attention in 2020?

Consistently with the needs described above, I believe that in the “new normal” we are on the way the solutions already presented in the past by many technology companies that have already received great interest will find a place, while finding difficult to establish themselves for various issues and for cultural or regulatory oppositions, depending on the case. I am thinking for example about the technologies that allow the identification of players in public places and other control devices. 

I believe that these services can be adopted or proposed as a solution to manage the new rules of contagion prevention, which is now a completely global issue. Furthermore, I believe that the push provided by the pandemic to the digital world will allow us to accelerate developments in virtual and augmented reality applied to gaming, which will already be able to see important developments during the current year. As well as the new payment solutions which, as the data already reveal, recorded a significant increase during the lockdown. For a revolution that has already begun.

Which operator has impressed you the most in 2020?

The question is particularly difficult to answer and explain: locally, therefore in Italy – which represents our main country of interest and expertise – I believe that the company that has recorded the most significant developments and deserves a special notice is The Sisal group. This company, in fact, in addition to the excellent economic performance recorded before the lockdown, has achieved important goals by completely reorganizing its structure: by separating the gaming operations from the other services offered by the group, separating them into two different entities, thus managing to enhance the gaming structure, but at the same time it has landed on international markets, acquiring in recent months new concessions for online (in Spain), lotteries and land-based games (Morocco and Turkey), that the company is activating in these days. Becoming an international company, that will lead it to grow further, becoming a protagonist even outside Italy. 

On a global level, however, I find the work that the Playtech group is doing very interesting, not only in terms of business development but also in terms of corporate responsibility, trying to push and support a change of gear by the entire industry. I am naturally thinking of the creation and promotion of artificial intelligence technology applied to physical and online gaming created by the subsidiary BetBuddy, which the company is trying to promote, on all markets, through an authentic work of evangelization carried out by the excellent Francesco Rodano, which I really hope can be followed and adopted by as many operators as possible.

What partnership has stood out in the past 12 months?

Certainly, the most significant step has been – and is still taking place – Flutter’s acquisition of the Stars Group for 10 billion pounds, due to the consequences that this step can have in the global destiny of gaming and on all markets. But it will certainly not be the last, on the contrary: with the pandemic playing a significant role also in this respect, favoring (or forcing) many operators to aim for M&A agreements or solutions to remain competitive on the market. Or only to stay alive. However, in this last period I believe to keep under observation the many movements that are taking place, on a global level, around the esports market. If the trend was already underway, due to the growth of bets on this type of events in the world, with the pandemic and the lockdown this type of bets have reached remarkable peaks, in addition to the fact that esports have proved more than resilient, perhaps even immune to any catastrophe, compared to other sectors. 

These aspects have therefore inevitably attracted the attention of investors and also in the gamblig industry. I therefore believe this type of acquisitions and partnerships should be monitored, as it could lead to new and further developments and new business segments. In America, above all, where this phenomenon coincides with the explosion of the regulated betting market, the attention directed by large gaming groups and the casino industry to this world could lead esports to become a real mass phenomenon, more than it already is. In a similar way to what has already happened with poker, a long time ago, with the difference that, in this case, the audience is undoubtedly much wider, as well as the communication tools of today are much faster and more direct than that time. Let us therefore prepare for a new revolution.

Which parts of the conference agenda have caught your eye?

Surely, at this moment the sections relating to payment and compliance are at the center of general attention, again by virtue of the changes due to Covid that we have already talked about, but the issue of affiliations in gaming continues to be increasingly important, taking into account restrictions that are being introduced in various countries, after the absolute ban on advertising in Italy, which make this type of activity more and more important and central. However, I particularly like the section of the event dedicated to Education, which I personally consider essential and for the creation of that ‘new’ sector I was talking about a little while ago.

Further details, including the agenda, full line-up of 200 speakers and list of the 100 virtual exhibitors, are available from the official SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital website

To join the 10,000 delegates from around the world, click here to register for free

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