The Summit of iGaming Malta (SiGMA) is set to attract 3,000 delegates with a lively expo floor and two days of sessions addressing sports betting and affiliate marketing sectors, regulation, innovation and start-ups. MaltaProfile.info spoke to organiser Eman Pulis ahead of next week’s event.
SiGMA is already in its third year. How did SiGMA come about and how would you describe its development?
I saw that the gaming industry was growing in Malta, and with 12 years’ experience in organising concerts, I thought that we should set up an iGaming show in Malta. So I found the right partners for it and took the plunge. There was nothing like it in Malta or even in Europe – nothing that brings operators, affiliates and B2B together. We wanted SiGMA to be all encompassing targeting both affiliates and operators and giving space to the B2B aspect, thus bringing everyone under one roof.
The gap between these three pillars is always decreasing: you have an affiliate today who is doing so much deposits that he wants to become an operator himself. They will not remain focused solely on the operator. This year, we are flying in 200 affiliates, and I know some of them are big enough to scout for a label or look for a licence.
Two years down the line the output has not only increased but practically doubled. In the first year, we had around 1,500 attendees. This year we have around 3,000 attendees coming in. While the quantity is important, the quality of the attendees is also top notch. We have around 1,500 attendees flying from overseas which is quite unprecedented for any expo in Malta to date.
SiGMA 2016 will have also 160 exhibitors and sponsors and 8 conferences. We are investing a lot in the show. We are a team of four working around the clock to finish the show for next week. As we kick-start this year’s edition we would already have started working on the next show for the following year. There is no wasting of time. We are also re-investing a relevant segment of the income. We are organising dinners throughout the year to keep the calendar packed. We believe that networking can flourish throughout the year rather just on the days of the show.
HUB OF BUSINESS MINGLING: SiGMA is renowned for its expo atmosphere that provides the ideal space to network
How important is the show for Malta?
I think Malta deserves to take centre stage in the iGaming industry world-wide, at least for that one week a year, and with SIGMA that is what we are trying to do. We are putting the spotlight on Malta, the topics of the conferences have a tinge of Malta: not to mention the participation of the MGA and the Government of Malta. This year we are even plugging in many activities to the show such as the Start-Up Pitch. We are bringing start-ups from all over the world, and we are not only twinning them with potential investors but are also showcasing Malta’s advantageous tax regime thus encouraging them relocate here.
STARTUP PITCH: The organizers are enthused by their latest addition that can help new outfits find investors while promoting Malta as a start-up location
For those who are attending, what can they expect from this year’s event keeping in mind that you had two years of growth now?
I would not compare this year to any of the other previous years. In fact, in terms of exhibitor space we have been sold-out since April. This means that from April onwards we could allocate time to nurture every contact that we made. We are organising about 50 private dinners around SIGMA. We are assisting the sponsors to set these up, including sponsors like DraftKings and FanDuel. We have the Start-up pitch, and we are even opening the doors in the last four hours for a Careers Convention. There are thousands of locals who would love to join the gaming industry. This also includes lawyers and C-level executives. At the same time, there is a thirst for talent, thus we are opening the doors to anyone who is interested to venture in iGaming.
"In the last four hours we are opening the doors to anyone who is interested in an iGaming career."
What about the conferences, the content element?
Apart from the conferences that originate directly through us, which this year will deal with payments, regulation, affiliates and sports, SiGMA 2016 will widen the content offering. KPMG are renowned for their eSummits, which they do in the Isle of Man and Gibraltar, and we made a pitch to them in January to launch a third seminar in Malta. They loved the idea, and they will be plugging the eSummit into SiGMA. iGaming Academy are also having a seminar, and there is a fourth forum organised by C-level executives that have been in the industry for a long time.
"KPMG are renowned for their eSummits... we made a pitch to them to launch a seminar in Malta and they loved it"
What is the profile of attendees that gaming executives can expect to meet at the show?
The profile is diverse and will include both CEOs and CTOs but also affiliates. The mix emanates from what is on offer, therefore one needs to keep in mind how our formula works. It’s one ticket for four days, day one and day four are purely networking and day two and day three are dedicated to the expo and conferences. We guide our attendees towards dedicating one and a half days to the expo and half a day for a conference. We offer four conferences spread over two days. These do not overlap. As explained, one will deal with payments, a second will address regulation thus appealing to regulators. Affiliates and CMOs will be targeted in the affiliates conference, while the last seminar will deal with all things sports – eSports, sportsbooks, daily fantasy sports – to attract all those new players coming into the industry.