SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital: The uncertain future of VIP schemes

‘In every crisis there is opportunity’ said Dr Christopher Dalli, CEO of L&L Europe, on the final day of the SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital

The panel, titled Reinventing VIP and Bonus schemes, saw industry professionals come together to discuss alternative ways for VIP schemes and sign up bonuses to attract and retain customers. 

You can click here to watch the full panel from the event, or see the video embedded above.

Speaking on the impact of the pandemic and the face-to-face interaction during hospitality and VIP’s, Dalli stated: “In every crisis there is opportunity. When it hit, like all other operators, we quickly tried to shuffle to see what we were going to do, we adapted and the treatment you give to your best players and customers is no exception.

“I think what was key for us is that we understood that the players are now in a new position as well and even your most introverted person needs social contact so we found it as a good opportunity to solidify those relationships and reach out to people.”

Hartuv continued Delli’s point by adding: “It also opens us up to the opportunity where traditional areas of engagement also changed. We weren’t just contacting customers for the purpose of enhancing their playability. 

“With COVID, people had more time on their hands but didn’t have as much spare cash to gamble with. You saw there was a massive dip in the industry which I’m sure we all felt and slowly we’re seeing it return as people return to work so it’s that period of time where you actually acknowledge people’s circumstances.”

Moderated by Martin Prantner, CEO of Finnplay Technologies, and sponsored by Fast Track, Pranter and Dalli were joined by Gali Hartuv, head of VIP at 10bet and Ilze Jansone, managing director at betBonanza.

When the panel came to the subject of what being a VIP means, Delli was less optimistic stating ‘you can’t say traditional VIP is dead now, it’s been dead for a long time’. 

Claiming that the phrase VIP was a ‘very loose’ term within the industry, as anyone depositing twice in a row could be considered VIP, he continued: “In truth, the procedure of how VIP is done is dead but the actual VIP still exists. The definition of VIP, thanks to regulators, has changed completely. You can’t just look and blindly shoot off VIP without keeping in mind all the compliance that now comes along with it.

“It’s natural with anyone who has been keeping an eye on the regulated markets over the last few years knows that if you don’t pay enough attention to this key factor of your business then it could get you in trouble. 

“Everybody knows the £11m fine that Betway got, closely tied to its VIP program, if anyone wants to have a sustainable business going forward then it’s very clear they can’t have a VIP program that isn’t tightly closed with their compliance.

“Having said that, it really means that everything that was done before; your hospitality, your tired program, your layers, your bonuses and your incentives, all of that still applies. The only difference now is, who are you giving it to? And have you made sure that they can actually be considered a VIP, not someone who is going to turn around and say I am in trouble and say they made me play beyond my control. That fine line between entertainment and problem.

“At the end of the day, traditional VIPs, in the sense of blindly shooting out incentives to everyone that comes, are dead.”

Hartuv, in part, agreed with Dalli’s overview yet emphasised that there were some areas, in relation to VIP’s, that the industry needed to focus its attention on. He noted: ”Is a traditional VIP dead? I think elements of it are but it all depends on how companies have adapted over time. 

“There’s a lot of companies that still hold on to a very old school style of VIP management, which with modern day regulation is probably not applicable and they are just buying time before they get a fine. 

“The VIP concept in terms of gaming though, as Christopher highlighted, VIP is not going anywhere. It’s just the systems that we needed to reshape themselves. We’re currently in this transitional phase, it’s just constantly changing based on the regulation and it’s constantly being redirected, so as you start working on something, it can change as we see regulation changes constantly.

“Is this driving VIP’s to less regulated markets or to newer markets, yes. Is it the best alternative, no. Yet, when you look at the current VIP styles we have and how we are managing VIP’s you need to look at what approach the companies are taking. 

“If we’re going to have a VIP program in line with the regulations now which are tightening day by day we need to adapt and we need to be more creative in how we approach traditional VIP and I think it’s just been highlighted more during the COVID period that VIP is coming into the spotlight.”

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