Adapting and evolving in the industry during COVID-19

Speaking on the second day of CasinoBeats Malta Digital, Paris Smith, CEO of Pinnacle, claimed that ‘every crisis is an opportunity’ as she explains how her company evolved at the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

As part of the Leaders’ Panel, Smith went on to praise her ‘loyal’ and ‘dedicated’ staff and how there have been lessons learned from the situation. In particular, the CEO highlighted the growth of esports and how the scene was a major player throughout the global health pandemic.

Smith stated: “We focused a lot on the esports side and took the opportunity, every crisis is an opportunity and made our esports side stronger. We did start the focus on the casino and did some last minute stuff for the virtual side.

“We’ve been able to maintain our own and I think for me the most interesting part of the COVID process is seeing our loyal and dedicated staff. We have over 500 employees worldwide and everything happened overnight.

“The mental health of the employees for me I worked around the clock, not just how they were dealing with work but how they were dealing with themselves. People didn’t really think how children were responding.”

Joining Smith on the panel was Petra Zackrisson, CCDO of Betano Stoiximan, Americo Loireiro, director at Solverde, Marten Forste, COO of LeoVegas, and William Scott, director of Warrenside, who was moderating the session.

The conversation shifted towards casinos, both online and land-based, to see how companies have been affected by the crisis with Loireiro noting his company saw an increase in registrations during March.

He said: “What we saw during the March period was a real increase in registrations, we saw a large number of customers looking for different alternatives. Customers that have never played online before. 

“We also saw that land-based customers were looking for the same products online.”

Asked by Scott if companies will be able to maintain the recently acquired players or if they will migrate back to physical casinos, Loireiro added: “Before COVID, 14 per cent of the customers from land-based bet online. After, what we saw was an increase from the land-based database and around 35 per cent of those customers played online for the first time.

“Right now those 35 per cent of online players represent only five per cent of active players online.

“What happened with land-based (in Portugal) is that we opened the doors three weeks ago with a lot of restraints so that killed the local aspect of the business.

“Land-based, we are seeing a 65 per cent increase in revenues, it’s quite a lot.” 

Echoing Loireri’s findings on social interaction, Zackrisson added: “We have just recently ran a small survey to see what it would look like because we could clearly see the trend. 70 per cent of them had never been online before and this, of course, had a massive impact on us just in terms of educating those customers.

“We also asked the ones who did not come back, because there was a substantial amount of them that just dropped, which was 50 per cent. They claimed that they would come back but claimed they were missing certain things, they were missing the social interaction.”

With eyes firmly fixed on the near future, Forste expressed that he’s looking for regulators to implement ‘predictability and measures’ taken on facts instead of the ones that are currently in place. 

He said: “We, as a company, like the fact the market is regulated but in order for it to work there needs to be a certain amount of predictability and the UK reg has shown that with the measures that have been imposed on that market have been for a secure purpose and we can all understand that.

“In Sweden unfortunately it’s a bit of a disappointment so far from what we’ve seen. The changes, as of tomorrow, are not based on fact or do not serve a correct purpose. It’s actually allowing non licensed operators to take a bit of the market.

“I’m a bit surprised to see that it’s also only impacting casinos which is a bit disturbing when we don’t see that activity has increased in that market.

“What I am looking for is predictability and measures taken based on facts instead of the ones that we see right now.”

The panel continued to discuss the challenges that currently facing the online gaming sector and future opportunities of companies adapting to the COVID-19 crisis and how technology may play an important role in the future.

CasinoBeats Malta Digital, delivered in association with Gaming Malta, takes place from 30 June to 2 July 2020 and features 40 virtual exhibitors, numerous networking opportunities, 130 leading speakers, and countless business opportunities for 3,000 senior decision-makers from operators, suppliers, affiliates and other industry stakeholders.

Alongside the exhibition, networking and conference, all delegates also gain access to the full range of entertainment on offer, including free-play slots, daily competitions and a selection of prizes such as iPads and cash.

Find full details of the event, including information about how to register and the discounts available on company group passes, at the event’s official website: https://sbcevents.com/casinobeats-malta-digital/

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