This years eSummit held at the Sunborn Hotel, brought together industry experts, Charlie Leach, Associate Director, KPMG, reports
Sustainability in Uncertain Times was the theme of this year’s 2023 KPMG eSummit, held on board the Sunborn in June.
Over 250 delegates from the eGaming and associated industries attended the event which brought together key operators, regulators and thoughtleaders to discuss developments, risks and opportunities in the sector.
Minister for Digital, Financial Services & Public Utilities, the Hon Albert Isola gave the opening address in which he remarked on the resilience of the Gibraltar eGaming industry in the face of successive shocks.
“When I came into politics 10 years ago, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be facing Brexit, Covid, treaty negotiations, withdrawal agreements, and everything else that’s come through,” he said. “Yet you have to play the cards you’re dealt, and that’s what we’ve done relentlessly through this period. That is what has seen us through the biggest challenges our community has ever faced.
“The way that we managed to get through Covid together, the way we’ve managed to get through Brexit and the withdrawal agreement together: when you think that we lost the entirety of all of your European businesses, and yet the numbers today are as strong as they were before that happened in 2016. It’s remarkable, and a testament to your professionalism and your entrepreneurial spirit, which always will see us through when we work together,” he added.
Last year’s eSummit had been preceded by the unexpected announcement from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) watchdog that Gibraltar was being placed on a grey-list, a move that Minister Isola described, in his view, as targeting the gaming industry “wholly unfairly”. The Minister said that much work had been done to address the points made by FATF and it was a case of “when” not “if” the jurisdiction was removed from the grey list.
as removed from the grey list. He also observed that there had been 13 new businesses applying for licences in the past year, with discussions ongoing on others. “It tells you that the confidence in our ability as a gaming jurisdiction, and our reputation, is untouched and we continue to punch above our weight,” he added.
The Minister also updated delegates on the progress of the Brexit withdrawal agreement and the planned treaty with Spain. The recent announcement of the Spanish elections meant there would be a delay to proceedings, he said, but the Gibraltar government is doing all it could in readiness for moving forward once the elections are completed.
Gibraltar Gaming Regulator Andrew Lyman addressed the conference with an update on the long-awaited Gambling Bill which is due to be released shortly and reflected on the increasingly multi-jurisdictional nature of the eGaming industry. Commenting on the interest in Gibraltar from overseas operators, he said the regulator’s responsibility was to provide pragmatic solutions whilst protecting the good name of the jurisdiction. “What we ask of our licensees is good faith, a shared objective in providing safer gambling, and a commitment to financial propriety and consumer protection,” he added.
The eSummit also heard from Sarah Gardner from the UK Gambling Commission who discussed the approach of the UK regulator to managing compliance with licensees and outlined the upcoming consultation processes around the UK’S White Paper for reform of legislation in the digital age.
KPMG Partner Nigel Hinchliffe led a discussion on markets, and two discussions on Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A), one from the viewpoint of operators and one from a legal perspective. Mr Hinchliffe observed that the eGaming M&A market had always been active and the past 12 months had been volatile, driven in part by external economic events such as the Russian / Ukraine war and inflationary environment, with deal values somewhat down on previous years. However, the sector had once again been more resilient than most and there were silver linings in the continued high growth potential and diversification of the industry.
A series of “Power Presentations”, short updates on subjects that varied from US Consumer Law Litigation to current AML Perspectives were delivered in the afternoon along with a fascinating glimpse into the potential of the Latin American market, particularly the “sports-mad” nation of Brazil.
There were also sessions on the UK market, research insights looking at the evidence behind regulatory change, evidence gaps and recent studies, plus a look back at the past 25 years of innovation from Continent 8 Chief Financial Officer Kristen Valenta.
The day finished in traditional style with a discussion panel made up of representatives from key operators who reflected on changes and key drivers in the sector alongside the main programme there was a series of presentations in breakout areas and the event was preceded by a KPMG Diversity, Equity and Inclusion seminar #WeAllWantToPlay led by KPMG Partner Global Gaming, Micky Swindale. This featured contributions from a wide variety of speakers about the drive for better diversity and inclusion across the industry.
Speaking after the event, Steph Beavis, Managing Director of KPMG Gibraltar, said it had once again been a great opportunity for anyone interested in the eGaming industry to get up to date and make new connections.
“We thank all the speakers and panellists for their participation and their insights which makes the day so valuable for everyone attending,” she said. “We also thank the sponsors for enabling the event to happen.”