KaFe Rocks: COVID-19 allowed us to reflect for the future

The global health pandemic has caused shockwaves across the entire gambling industry, with widespread restrictions imposed on retail operations forcing companies to shift their focuses towards other avenues, albeit temporarily, to sustain themselves during this tumultuous year.

But as live sport starts to resume and retail bookmakers start opening up their stores, the discussion has turned towards how the industry will react to the effects left by the pandemic. Is it business as usual? or has the pandemic actually created new opportunities that hadn’t possibly been focused on previously?

Speaking on the ‘New opportunities or business as usual – Affiliate CEO’ panel at SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital, Simon Pilkington, CEO, KaFe Rocks emphasised that he tried to take the positives out of the pandemic, stating that the firm was fortunate to not have to made any redundancies during this tumultuous period. 

Additionally, Pilkington used the time to reflect on business practices to ensure that once normality resumes, KaFe Rocks remains on course.

He said: “I think the next biggest reflection for us, and I think this is probably something that any good leader would be doing anyways. It’s just been taking that time to really reflect on our products and on our processes.

“So it’s been a really fast growth for our company and just having that bit more time to say are we set up the right way? Are we pushing forward as we want to? Are we providing everything we need to do for our end users and for our partners? That’s been really the biggest upside, is for us being able to address this.”

During the panel, which was moderated by Lee-Ann Johnstone, CEO of AffiliateINSIDERToby Bentall, the CEO of Oddschecker Global Media also highlighted that due to the global pandemic, the gambling industry has to make a lot of changes if it wishes to adapt to the new world.

“For me, there’s a bunch of ways in which our industry is going to be impacted that we haven’t necessarily experienced yet because it’s still early,” said Bentall. 

“The first thing that comes to mind is the shift, from a sports betting perspective, from the retail industry to activity online and I think that’s going to be a bit of a tailwind actually for our industry going forward. It will be something that we as affiliates need to each try and capture that new demand.

“What is the macro economic environment going to look like? We know recessions are coming and people are going to be out of work. We are an entertainment product and therefore we are – to some degree – expendable. How will revenues be impacted by this disposable income in general if we become smaller?

“It’s going to be fascinating to see how the next six to twelve months play out and I think there’s reasons to believe that we’re going to be bigger and better in the industry. But there are also going to be some challenges as well.”

The conversation then moved on to what more affiliates can do to improve to ensure that player protection is increased, particularly with some customers expected to go through more economic hardships, as Bentall alluded to prior. 

Marcos Oliveira, Chief Affiliate Officer of Clever Advertising Group, explained that even though he feels the regulated market has done a great job when it comes to operator specific solutions, such as GAMSTOP, it has failed to regulate over a variety of online operators.

Oliveira commented: “The regulated markets, I think, have done an amazing job when it comes to GAMSTOP and having the tools necessary for anyone that doesn’t want to gamble – allowing them to block themselves from gambling. One thing that I think the older regulators failed on was for the cross operator.

 “I can give you an example here in Portugal. If you self exclude on a land-based casino, you are automatically self-excluded for every casino in Portugal. But if you self-exclude from one online operator, you are only self-excluded from that online operator. That’s the thing that makes it not right. But when it comes to products and the way that you can block yourself, I think it’s good.”

Additionally, Pilkington expressed that it’s up to betting affiliate sites to also help the customer pick the safest operator whilst also spreading the message of safer gambling on the website to ensure that if the operators don’t apply strict player safety rules, then at least the affiliate does. 

He added: “I think one thing we’ve always looked at doing is trying to live by the strictest. So even in markets where you don’t need to be pushing certain messages, we still do and we make sure that the Responsible Gambling messages are front and centre in our site and are not hidden.

“Even if some operators aren’t doing it well you make sure that you are detailing the areas that you can go to, to get help as well. So I think as an affiliate  and as a consultant you can still play a big part in making sure you’re as tough as possible on this to ensure that player protection is in place as best as possible.”

During the panel, the affiliate experts discussed a multitude of topics such as the possibility of affiliate collaboration and also certain trends that occurred during lockdown. 

After reflecting on the successes and challenges during lockdown, the conversation turned to the future with Christian De Cailleux, the CEO of Skores, in particular looking at the potential of increasing fan engagement through the mobile development and the use of apps.

“Sports fans want to have different content and there is a different way that content is consumed,” De Cailleux stated. “So on the apps we find that, for example, LiveScore is huge on the apps because they want to be able get information quickly within a notification for a goal or for an injury. 

“On social media it’s different. They want to keep close to the player and a transfer. On the web it’s more transactional, so it’s an odds comparison because it’s in the display that they can open an account.

“The focus on the product has to be a priority but also the focus on the sports fan engagement. That’s why we are also on social media. I mean, you cannot be fully focused on the web If you want to engage your sports fan. Your brand has to be on all the channels.”

SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital is a FREE to attend virtual conference and exhibition running from 8-11 September. To register for your free ticket or find out more please visit – https://sbcevents.com/sbc-summit-barcelona-digital/

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