Description: Imagine you’re playing a poker tournament. You do well early on, bust a few players, and pick up reads on your opponents. Then the table breaks. You keep your seat, but the new players are tougher, and one of them has a monster stack. This is the competitive ecosystem that’s about to dominate U.S. iGaming.
But not everyone sees PokerStars, the gigantic newcomer, as a threat. Even among rivals, there’s a sense that PokerStars’ U.S. return could be a communal good. How so? Can the new stakeholders work together for the good of the industry? We’ll directly confront this proposition and other key issues concerning the fate of this space.
iGNA 2016 will kick off with a panel discussion on unity. Two previously bitter rivals, Caesars and PokerStars, who formed an alliance last year to fight against opposition voices, will be represented on the panel. Perhaps they will lay out their plans to not only have individual success, but hopefully usher in an industrywide wave that buoys all operators.
Description: It’s one thing to hear from the executives, who issue top-down directives. But the everyday floor staff, who get to see firsthand how those orders live or die, could have an entirely new view worth sharing. Here we decamp the C-Suite and take the elevator down to the floor. What’s it like down there? What’s management at risk of being oblivious to? And what do the players think about what’s being done for their supposed benefit?
Two industry veterans will flip things around and examine the gaming world not from 30,000 foot view of corporate profits, but through the lens of the customer and the employees they interact with on a day-to-day basis.
Description: Panelists representing jurisdictions that are pursuing regulated iGaming report their progress and share insight into the outlook for approval, the challenges faced and regulator models being sought. Political matters will be at the forefront. Naturally, the conversation will also address inter-jurisdictional pacts.
This is an extremely important panel, as it boasts elected representatives from two of the states that appear on most everyone’s shortlist for future online gaming expansion. New York Assemblyman Pretlow has introduced an online poker bill in the past, and Illinois Representative Zalewski’s state has already expanded into online lottery sales.
Description: More money is better than less; that’s obvious. What’s not as obvious is why U.S. iGaming hasn’t been more flush with revenue. Market smallness tells only one side of the story; this panel looks at the others. Payment processors are under fire, but they can’t be asked to work miracles. Even if the pipeline of deposits were completely unclogged, who’s responsible for enlarging consumer awareness and attracting new customers?
The panel also explores whether payment challenges have stunted the growth of the industry and seeks a pathway to attainable solutions.
Aside from liquidity, payment processing has been the most hard to shake obstacle hampering the legal online gaming markets in Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey. CAMS CEO Matthew Katz, whose company deals with these issues on a day-to-day basis, and analyst Andrew Zarnett will explore how impactful payment processing has been, and what can be done to mitigate its effects.
Description: One moderator and two experts dash through an avalanche of trending topics. No answers exceed one minute. Nothing is off the table. It’s a fast-paced, entertaining way to get a pulse on the industry.
Quite frankly, I don’t know what to expect from this panel, but all three men on the stage are well-versed on all aspects of the industry and bring unique perspectives to the table.
Description: iGaming insiders take it for granted that game integrity is achievable through regulation, but the rest of the world has a hard time seeing it that way. The same distortions and mischaracterizations creep up in the press all the time. Should the iGaming world be doing a better job telling a consistent story? And what should that story be?
On this panel, myself and others will continue on with one of the major themes of iGNA 2016 (see the opening and closing panels detailed in this column), as we discuss the industry’s narrative, and why the messaging surrounding online gambling is such a mixed bag.
Description: Player liquidity was once predominantly about poker, but the size of the player pool now concerns daily fantasy sports as well. Can the best minds from both worlds combine ideas on how to keep players happy? Prepare to hear debates over key issues such as customer service, third party tools, and the lopsided shark-to-minnow ratio.
This is one of the more hodgepodge panels of the conference, as you have a gaming industry entrepreneur, a DFS and gaming columnist and analyst, a marketing chief, and a game theory expert tossed on the stage together to discuss the current situation in poker and gaming as it pertains to ecosystems.
Knowing all four of these individuals, there will be no shortage of strong and insightful opinions on this panel!
Description: The iGaming world hasn’t shined for its advocacy – a troubling admission considering the need for it. Whether it’s pushing for legalization of i-gaming products or forwarding the agenda of legalizing sports betting, the industry has rarely spoken with “one voice.” Given the fragmentation and, in some cases, outright vacuum of leadership, can the industry create a clear agenda and get a critical mass on the same page to accomplish goals?
Participants in this interactive session will offer up clarity of direction and a path forward. In the “fishbowl” discussion format, one seat on the panel is reserved for attendees who want to cycle into the discussion with some of their thoughts on how to make things happen.
iGNA 2016 wraps up with Sue Schneider leading a discussion on how the industry moves forward, working together (as was discussed in the opening panel of the conference) and creating a unified message for the greater good.