Over 240 delegates enjoyed a two day programme of 40 world class presenters at the Sunborn, Gibraltar on 23rd and 24th April as the KPMG eSummit returned for 2015.
Now established as one of the eGaming and, more widely, eBusiness industry’s most important calendar events, this year’s summit represented an evolution of the traditional format to extend over two days and include four additional break-out sessions in parallel to the main programme. The International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL) returned to KPMG’s event to provide two Masterclass break-out sessions both of which left standing room only as delegates rushed to find out more about the M&A environment for eGaming and the European legal viewpoint. The Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association (GBGA) meanwhile ran the first of its responsible gambling seminars, a key topic of the day, while later in Day 1 a blockchain, cryptocurrency and FinTech commercial workshop set the tone for an afternoon’s insight into the future for eBusiness transactions.
The Hon. Albert Isola, Minister for Financial Services and Gaming with the Government of Gibraltar opened proceedings by recognising the importance of the private and public sectors’ total commitment to compliance and reaffirming Gibraltar’s simple philosophy of entertaining only the highest quality operators willing to contribute to maintaining its world class regulatory and legislative reputation. Gambling Commissioner Phill Brear then took to the stage with an introductory overview of Gibraltar’s Gaming economy, which now accounts for over 3,000 employees and 34 operators, before moderating a comprehensive and insightful panel review of gambling regulation in Gibraltar with particular emphasis upon the process of updating Gibraltar’s Gambling Act 2005 and licensing arrangements to create an enabling legal and regulatory framework.
Eris Industries’s Preston Byrne took over for the summit’s first coffee and conferencing session with a fascinating discussion of the countless potential applications of the Blockchain 2.0 in today’s digital environment. From the past role of Bitcoin to peer-to-peer architecture and the blockchain’s role as pure development software, his discussion provoked some enthusiastic discussion in the context of Gibraltar’s regulatory considerations. MasterCard’s Andrew Johnstone followed as moderator to a distinguished panel of payment specialists who together tackled emerging payments in their form, application and function. Ranging from product innovation and regulation to global M&A activity and the definition of an emerging payment itself, this panel invoked discussion of some of the most fundamental issues in eBusiness today.
Following lunch, Peter Howitt of the GBGA moderated an exciting and frank panel discussion of the role of social responsibility in gaming. Together, esteemed panellists, including representatives of the Senet Group, shared their thoughts on stakeholder responsibility, the role of the media and politicians, and as a closing note the importance of public industry collaboration on the matter. Tim Stocks of Taylor Wessing then took over with a highly informative presentation entitled “Red Carnations and Slaying Dragons”. Here the public markets specialist provided his audience with an evaluation and forecast of M&A and overall market activity within the global eGaming sector, also identifying the blooming of opportunity and those likely to be slain by the process.
Mr Stocks was followed by Paul Lasok, QC whose coffee and conferencing presentation allowed unparalleled insight into the implications of Fiscal Neutrality and VAT in the European Union from an individual well placed to discuss the issue. A final panel session, moderated by Peter Montegriffo of Hassans, closed Day 1 with a discussion on the evolution of gambling from the particular perspective of the operator. Here, well known industry figures discussed Gibraltar’s sector at what was described as a ‘point of reflection’ as Gibraltar seeks to update its regulatory regime and operators respond to the wake of the UK’s point of consumption taxation regime and ahead of the 2015 UK General Election.
Day 2 saw delegates return to the Sunborn to be welcomed by KPMG’s Head of eBusiness, following the previous evening’s gala dinner hosted by the Government of Gibraltar at St Michael’s Cave. The evolution of gambling, this time from the regulator’s perspective, was the first topic of discussion as the panel of regulators Phill Brear, Hakan Hallstedt and Jenny Williams, moderated by IMGL President Joerg Hofmann, debated the importance of regulator personality, accessibility and independence, as well as discussing the importance of cross-border collaboration, market growth and responsible gambling. Conference regular Paul Leyland then took over to deliver the penultimate presentation entitled ‘The Multi-channel Value Equation’. Here, Mr Leyland contemplated the advantages and disadvantages of the industry’s latest focus: omni-channel presence, in an astute and expansive evaluation which concluded that, in many cases, the big winner is the customer and the big loser many operators.
Providing the final presentation of the summit was Martina King and David Excell of Featurespace, whose captivating presentation narrated the company’s development from a Cambridge University laboratory experiment to a critical provider of big data analytics. From questions of the definition of behavioural analytics to its deployment and use, the two provided a presentation which is testament to the huge potential which remains within eGaming and eBusiness. Closing words from KPMG’s Russell Kelly thanked the event’s sponsors Continent 8 Technologies, Gibtelecom, Isolas, W2 Global Data, Intelligent ID, Hassans, World Trade Centre Gibraltar, Ramparts and media partners iGaming Business and Gambling Insider. A special thanks was also offered to event organisers Ashgrove Marketing as well as the day’s speakers and attendees, all of whom were invited to attend the next KPMG eSummit Gibraltar in 2016.
Commenting on the two day event, Managing Director of KPMG Gibraltar, Micky Swindale, said: “The challenge of curating and organising our eSummit series increases as they grow in popularity and scale each year. Yet despite this, and as we celebrate the success of this year’s eSummit, it is clear that the enthusiasm and impetus generated is growing in kind. This industry encompasses everything, from legal and regulatory debate on an international scale to cutting edge technology, payments and consumer protection. It will always be one of the most exciting to play a part in and, as it reaches an important stage in its maturity, for industry stakeholders to play a part in together. I’m very proud that KPMG is able to provide a forum within which this can happen, and cannot wait to see what next year will bring.”