September 12 – Isle of Man

There was a distinct atmosphere of positivity in the Villa Marina yesterday, as KPMG hosted their 7th annual Isle of Man eGaming Summit. A delegate list of 280 people attended the lively event, which featured an opening address by Chief Minister Allan Bell. In one of his final speaking engagements whilst in office, Mr Bell commented, “A small island like the Isle of Man needs to reinvent itself periodically, and it has done, this time through eGaming. It is now the largest growth sector in our financial industry. Indeed, there has been a 12.5% jobs growth in the past year through this sector alone.” KPMG expressly thanked Chief Minister Bell and the Department of Economic Development (DED) for their tremendous support of this fast-moving target industry.  Micky Swindale, of KPMG Isle of Man, presented Mr Bell with a large engraved wooden poker chip, created by Pooil Vaaish, in recognition of his services to the eGaming industry.

The summit marks the 13th in a series of summits by KPMG across the Isle of Man and Gibraltar, firmly placing it as a premier event in the global eGaming calendar. A wide range of topics were covered, including regulation, innovation, M&A activity and the UK implementation of NOSES  (National Online Self-Exclusion System) and eMoney (in particular Bitcoin). This year there was a break with tradition as KPMG ran 4 workshops and 2 pitches, held in the Broadway Cinema, alongside the main talks and panel sessions held in the Royal Hall. Of particular note was the panel session “The Isle of Man Proposition for eGaming Post-Brexit” which featured local experts Mark Robson, Head of eGaming for the Isle of Man Government, Steve Brennan of the Gambling Supervision Commission, and Philip Vermeulen of the new ICT University, as well as entrepreneur Ashley Sandyford-Sykes, whose company AdoptIt Publishing recently established in the Isle of Man. The panel reflected that although Brexit will be significant globally, its effect on the Isle of Man will be less impactful, indeed, in many ways, it could be positive for eGaming. For example, operators looking to hold multiple licenses are more likely to consider the Isle of Man over other UK territories as a base to set up their business now. Our own connections to the EU remain undiminished in the wake of Brexit. As Mr Sandyford-Sykes noted, “As a relative newcomer to the Isle of Man, it’s clear to me that there is a tangible benefit to being here: the government is very receptive to new business, the infrastructure is pretty agile, and the business community is still small… I get the feeling we can really work together and grow.”

The Featurespace sponsored workshop sessions kicked off with a highly interactive session presented by Errol Larson, Mike Guelpa and Geoff Walton from Derivco. Games such as Pokémon have catapulted augmented reality games into the mainstream and the team discussed how we will see this further impact on the market over the next few years. The Derivco team had virtual reality headpieces for the audience to try out and actually immerse themselves in a poker game, illustrating how virtual reality games will impact the online gaming arena and indeed other industry sectors.  The workshop sessions also included Dr Daniel Gonzalez-Ordonez and James MacDonald Turner from Featurespace discussing the dynamics and analysis of real-time player behaviour alongside responsible gambling and how to understand when to intervene to protect players.

A hugely informative Market View was provided by Simon French of Cenkos Securities, as well as two exciting pitches by industry innovators Dion Croom of 3D Creative Web and Sam Huber of Kout. As per last year, the IMGL provided three stimulating masterclasses, this time focusing on Data Protection & AML, Continuing Consolidation (M&A Activity and Trends) and the Top 10 Risks for Gaming Operators. Fiona Palmer of Sky Betting & Gaming provided an excellent account of the NOSES scheme, and the event was closed by the Minister for Economic Development Laurence Skelly.

The annual event has many sponsors and in particular KPMG thanks the following for their generous support: the Isle of Man Government, Continent 8, Manx Telecom, Featurespace, NedBank Private Wealth, Derivco Isle of Man, IMGL and the Palace Casino.

Reflecting on a hugely successful day, Micky Swindale of KPMG Isle of Man: “Great to have our 13th eGaming Summit under our belts, and one of our many visitors said on his way out of the Villa Marina that he thought it was our best yet, so that will do for me. There was a real diversity of views and topics over the course of the day; from technology, to regulation, to M&A, but it was great to see that the Isle of Man’s eGaming proposition is thriving. As Paul Richardson, Group Director of Corporate Strategy and Development for Rank PLC, said, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing’.”

Laurence Skelly, Minister for the Department of Economic Development commented: “The  success of this summit underpins the achievements of the E-Gaming sector on the Isle of Man. E-Gaming and E-Business now equate to 25% of the Island’s GDP and events such as this help drive that performance. The Department strongly encourages and supports businesses across all sectors to run industry events on Island and we are delighted to once again support the Summit.

“Well-run events give investors and developers vital information, networking opportunities and, ultimately, the confidence to invest in the Island. I would like to congratulate KPMG for running such a dynamic and forward thinking event for industry this year.”