Shona ODonnell Sheds Light on London’s Social Gambling Conference

SGC2013_250x250 (2)SBC catches up with Shona ODonnell Head of Operations at iGaming Business to discuss the upcoming Social Gambling Conference, which will be hosted at the Dexter House London on the 6th – 7th of November. 

The two day conference aims to shed better detailed insight on the current topics and trends effecting social gaming. From an igaming perspective the Social Gaming Conference aims to provide more detailed information on social gaming operations, convergence opportunities  and knowledge transfer between the two sectors.

SBC: So Shona what are the key themes and topics of this year’s Social Gambling Conference?

Shona:Last year’s event was the first of its kind and as such we focused on the opportunity and market from a start up perspective.  However, Social Gambling Games are now live and generating revenue so this year’s themes will focus much more on what next in this sector for operators, such as monetization models, impact of regulation, virtual currency opportunities, moving players to real money gaming

We’ll be looking very specifically at how to monetize social style casino games, what is happening in terms of regulation as this develops in different markets and game design.  We will also look at some exclusive research on the size of the market and what direction it is taking.   We’ll examine how to convert players from social to real money with examples of those that are making this work today, and interestingly we’ll see how you can reverse the model and gamify gambling games.

We have some of the most exciting thought leaders in this area speaking including Charles Cohen, CEO, Probabilty, Raf Keustermans, CEO, Plumbee, Chris Griffin, Founder & CEO, Betable, Vaughn Lewis, Analyst, Morgan Stanley, Jez San, PKR, David Cliffton, Director, Clifton Davies Consultancy Ltd and Karl Jeffrey, Founder & CEO, Arooga. 

SBC: Why is iGaming Business interested in mixing gaming operators and social gambling companies – are they not two very different corporate entities, can they share knowledge and competencies?

Shona: It is such an emergent component of the overarching gambling space that I think it would be a greater worry if we weren’t taking an interest in bringing these sectors together. Yes, the dynamics in terms of business model, monetisation and target demographics are different, but if their corporate identities were more obviously similar, then this ‘convergence’, so to speak, would have already taken place.

We’re interested in facilitating the discussion between the two sectors because of the clear synergies that do and can mutually exist. Sharing the knowledge pool opens the way for more studied discussions as to the future harmony of the social and iGaming markets, and it’s in harvesting from the differences, as well as the similarities, between these sectors that will enable a better understanding of how the space can evolve.

As the iGaming ‘discussion’ evolves, so do the voices facilitating that discussion; therefore, this is a natural evolution of our services to the industry and we are both committed and excited to be playing an active role in its development.


shonaSBC: Social Gambling/Gaming is one of the newer fields in gaming and entertainment, has your team found it harder to gather intelligence and knowledge around this topic?

Shona: There is lots of information out there as it’s such a hot topic at the moment.  For us the key is finding out what is relevant to the industry just now, and what they need to know to develop their business now and in the next 6 months. We published a report on Social Gambling early last year so that proved a good starting point., we are currently working on the second edition of this report.  We also have a conference advisory board specifically for Social Gambling and we work with them closely to understand the pertinent issue facing operators just now. Nearly everyone has something to say on the subject so for us it’s about finding the people that are actually driving change and making social work in the gambling arena.  Over the past year we have also been holding a number of Meetups, where the industry can come together to share ideas and network and we’ve found that to really useful in terms of meeting new people and hearing what the industry is talking about, so we are immersed in the sector all year not just in the run up to the event. We are delighted to have presentations of exclusive research from Jason Anthony Prasadio, Justin Bellinger and Vaughn Lewis.


SBC: London is seeing numerous start-up social gaming studios with a focus on gambling mechanized games, why is this happening?

Shona: There are a large number of start up tech companies in London, attracted by the creative talent, and number of operators based here and the creation of Silicon Roundabout at Old Street which has become a hub for these types of organisations.  Gambling style games lend themselves to a social style game, they offer all of the elements that players are looking for particularly slots and casino style games. In a gambling market these games have been tested over a long time and so are easier to develop, they also offer great branding opportunities for known brands to move into the market be that in Gambling operators or other commercial brands.  Slots can use any number of characters or symbols that reflect brands identify.


SBC: Do you see innovation that occurs in social gambling as innovation for online gaming/gambling or should these not be treated as separate from each other.

Shona: Innovation is innovation; it is inherent in all industries. It changes hands, is built upon, embellished, and provides the blueprint for innovations of the future (sometimes with little trace of the seed principle). There are facets of business models, and the application of technologies and strategy that gambling has borrowed from other sectors, and that other sectors will borrow from gambling. So yes, if there are specific advances in a given sector (social or any other) that prove to be a good fit for the iGaming industry, then they will transfer.

I think innovation in either sector can often be transferred.  I think we will see more gambling brands looking at social gaming as a retention tool and way to create brand loyalty.  I think this will particularly be the case in the land based casinos as we have seen with Maryland Live.

It is also really interesting to see what Betable are doing where they are taking a very disruptive approach to real money social gambing using innovation and fundamentally throwing the casino game rule book out of the window. I highly recommend you watch Chris Griffin the CEO speak at the event as he has some really interesting views on innovation and especially how iGaming has slowed in this area as it has grown and developed as a market.

SBC: Finally What do you want delegates to take away from the Social Gambling Conference?

Shona: There are lots of unanswered questions with regards to the convergence of the social and real money business models; the blurring of lines between social gaming, social gambling and real money gambling creating a complex environment for operators seeking to take advantage of a new demographic-set that is high in potential, but also, for many, highly untapped.

The Social Gambling Conference spotlights the critical areas of concern and incentive within the social gambling space so that delegates are fully up-to-speed on the nuances and complexities of this emerging sector. We hope that delegates leave the conference with a better grasp of the environment, and take with them effective short and long-term strategies with which to bolster their social aspirations.


Shona ODonnell – Head of Operations – iGaming Business





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