Day 2 of the ICE North America virtual conference picked up where Day 1 left off. Once again, the topic du jour was the need for the industry to modernize and protect against future COVID-19-like events with increased delivery channels and products.
Day 2 of the conference was hosted by two well-known names in the gaming conference world:
- Ewa Bakun, Director of Industry Insight and Engagement, Clarion Gaming
- Victor Rocha, Conference Chair, National Indian Gaming Association and President, Victor Strategies
And it featured three panel discussions and a “fireside chat”:
- Regulator Exposé – What COVID-19 means for sports betting and gambling regulations in the US
- What can virtuals and esports offer the industry?
- How will 2020 disruption impact the momentum of sports betting’s roll out?
- Fireside Chat – Capturing Eyeballs and Market Share
Here are the highlights from the sessions.
You can read Betting USA’s Day 1 coverage of the ICE North America conference here:
- ICE North America Day 1 Recap: COVID-19 Forces Gaming Conferences Online
- Dispatches From ICE: Online Gaming Backers Keep Hopes High Despite Challenges
States Ready to Embrace New Products and Delivery Channels
As was the case yesterday, there was an emphasis on the current pandemic nudging, or in some cases, perhaps forcefully pushing legislators into supporting expanded forms of gambling.
That thinking stems from the belief that lawmakers will:
- desperately search for ways to raise revenue, and the upfront licensing fees from gambling licenses (sports betting or otherwise) coupled with ongoing tax revenue are a great place to start.
- also be looking for ways to pandemic-proof gaming. Whether its online lottery/casino/poker or loosening regulations on event betting, there will be a need to protect against future shutdowns from COVID-19 or some other act of God.
The Lack of Sports Allows Virtuals and Esports to Get their Foot in the Door
The presenters for the session were:
- Scott Warfield, Managing Director, Gaming, NASCAR
- Steve Rogers, Chief Commercial Officer – Virtuals, Inspired Entertainment
The most interesting data point was provided by Warfield who said, virtual NASCAR races are averaging 1 million viewers. That’s a solid number compared to the 3 million viewers the NASCAR Cup Series pulled in in 2019.
Warfield called the virtual races a “light in a dark place.”
Of course, there’s a big caveat to those numbers. Live NASCAR races are competing against the other major sports, whereas the virtual races are pretty much the only sport in the town. But as is the case with online gambling, anything is better nothing.
Operators Will Need to Lean on Affiliates
In the final session of Day 2 of ICE North America, Michael Daly, the General Manager of Catena Media US and Daniel Kustelski, the Cofounder and CEO of ChalkLine Sports discussed marketing and the affiliate business in what was dubbed a fireside chat.
The pair covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time, including the possibility that operators might emerge from the pandemic with tighter purse strings, resulting in them leaning proven customer acquisition channels with a strong ROI, like affiliates.
A Few Quick Hitters
Some other interesting topics that came up during the conference were:
- Kustelski’s belief that some of the protectionist policies, like in-person registration, that have seeped into sports betting bills will disappear. These policies are bad in normal times but have truly been laid bare during the pandemic.
- Daly speculating that Coronavirus shutdowns will have operators weighing a balance between online and land-based offerings.
- Hard Rock International’s Kresimir Spajcik stating that “Closures are giving us a chance to catch our breath and innovate new products,” something the casino industry is generally not known for.