From the Editor's Chair - v20.2

22 November 2004

It's the final installment of a three-part "Editor's Chair" from Sitges, Spain, where River City Group and ATE held the third annual European I-Gaming Congress & Expo.

Last week, I shared some observations on U.K. Policy, DDoS attacks, m-commerce, Virgin Games' quest for domination and the aftermath of the Gambelli ruling.

Now for some final lingering thoughts on an eventful week. . .


As was the case with GIGSE in June, the poker session at EIG drew a standing-room-only crowd--signifying once again that poker is the hottest topic in the I-gaming space. Victor Chandler's Gillian Leivesley used her time at the podium to (among other things) emphasize the appeal of Internet poker among female gamblers. Leivesley pointed out that only 5 percent of the people playing poker offline are women, while 40 percent of the online player base are female. The session in general provided an overview of Internet poker's potential in European market, and both Leivesley and fellow panelist Yariv Ron from Tradal Ltd. were enthusiastic about the market. Leivesley stressed the importance of targeting British players, whom she says make up 80 percent of the European market.

Leivesley's presentation also provided a look at Victor Chandler's sleek new black-and-white "VC" logos. The company is re-branding its Internet offerings under the "VC" brand and has rolled out the new logos in the process. I like the new look.

A few other thoughts on the poker from Sitges. . . The new breed of "born-again" poker pros has garnered a lot of attention within the industry. If you're not familiar with this group, these are the people who are reportedly leaving their well paying jobs to make a living--and a good living at that--playing online poker. The trend might pick up even more now that Tennis pro Yevgeny Kafelnikov has announced that he's retiring to become a professional poker player. (That he was still playing tennis professionally was news to me.) . . . I also heard an interesting "rumor" regarding poker bots. It appears that creators of these programs (highly skilled card-playing software) have shown an interest in expanding into networks--a tactic employed by hackers, although how much of a threat they present seems to be a bit of a mystery at the moment.

And the Next 'Big Thing' Is. . .

ATE hosted a very nice dinner on the evening of Day 2, during which they presented one industry-related question to each table, and to me the most intriguing discussion involved the guest thoughts on the next big trend in online gambling (on the heels of the betting exchange and poker booms). The unanimous answer was in-game betting (whereby the punter can bet on the outcomes of events within a match), and I think they might be onto something, especially considering the uptake of iTV and mobile gambling. The EIG audience's keen interest in a demonstration of in-game betting technology given on Day 3 of the conference by Ron Regan of Global Interactive Gaming seemed to support this notion.

Odds & Ends

The EIG attendees seemed to be happy with the show's relocation to Sitges--perplexed at first as to why Sitges, but ultimately pleased. The conference transformed the resort town, in its off season, into I-Gaming Central for three days, which I think was a good thing. The networking spilled from the hotels bustling lobby into the streets and to the various dining establishments within walking distance. You couldn't walk into a café or bar around town without seeing a familiar face or two.

The expo floor was much livelier than those in the past. There were at least 100 more attendees this time around than at either of the first two shows, but the productive atmosphere was due to more than sheer volume. People in the I-gaming space are doing more business these days and nowhere is it more evident than it was on the expo floor last week--a great sight especially considering the scarcity of I-gaming businesses last month at G2E.

And some final observations . . . The absence this year of marathon debates over betting exchanges was a nice change. . . . Very reliable sources all seem to agree that the "rumor" of Harrah's re-entering the I-gaming space by launching a World Series of Poker site are true. . . . The European I-gaming industry is very interested in the World Trade Organization's ruling in favor of Antigua in its grievance against the United States pertaining to online gambling services. . . Those who are not from the United States are generally more than happy to share some thoughts with those of us from the States about our recent election results.

That's all from Spain. Hope to see you there next year.

See also:

"From the Editor's Chair - v20"

"From the Editor's Chair - v20.1"

Mark Balestra

Mark Balestra is the Managing Director at BolaVerde Media Group. He previously worked at Clarion Gaming and the River City Group where he was the publisher of iGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.