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Francisco Vidal on the prospects of gambling business development in the CIS



Francisco Vidal Speaker at RGW 2017
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Francisco Vidal is the CEO at major entertainment complex Sortis & Golden Lion Casinos in Panama. Francisco is an expert of gambling business, having started as a croupier at London and Las Vegas casinos and becoming the head of several casinos in a very short term, namely Comar Group and Cirsa International in the Dominican Republic. Over the couple of years, he traveled almost throughout all countries of the West Indies, gaining the managerial positions. At the Russian Gaming Week 2017 conference, he will make a presentation titled “Building a Healthy Casino Industry in Russia – Casino Operations point of view”.

The expert told the RGW team about the prospects of the CIS market development, confirming his interest in attending of the RGW 2017 conference to surprise the audience with his presentation.

1) Is the CIS market considered as promising for the European companies that work in the gambling industry? Please explain your opinion.

Francisco: I would not see the CIS market as a whole, but more on a country by country basis and on those terms obviously the main opportunities are in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus (to name just a few); countries with bigger populations and with a stronger customer base (in terms of income and gaming culture). As long as the different markets are at this moment underdeveloped, there is of course opportunities for several of the main gaming groups in Western Europe (British, French, Germans, Austrians, etc.) but I do not see them entering the CIS countries without local partners. In my view, there is a lot of work to be done in terms of building trust, social connections, and comprehension of the business environment from the part of the foreign operators before starting operations in the CIS countries.

2) What can the European/American and CIS businessmen offer one another? What are the opportunities and risks?

Francisco: Obviously both the American and the Western European operators are more experienced, they have been involved in the gaming sector for more years, and depending on the country, they do have specific expertise in running different formats of casinos (from the classical, pure gambling operation to the more sophisticated integrated resorts that you find in Las Vegas, Macau, etc.). I do think that there is a natural divide when thinking about the possibility of potential partnerships between western operators and CIS businessmen, the former would provide the operational know how (CRM systems, management staff, operational procedures, product mix and configuration, etc.) and the latter – their understanding of the business/political environment, and the social/political connections to get things done. In my experience, those partnerships are quite difficult to maintain over the long term, so it would be smart to have a clause that specifies the potential sale of the partnership to the other part when the time comes.

Regarding the opportunities and risks, I do see the potential of a mature collaboration once the proper bond of trust has been built between the partners of developing attractive and well-designed venues that will be managed professionally with a long term focus. Overtime, well managed operations are profitable for the corporations behind them and provide the customer with a genuine and enjoyable casino experience, apart from generating taxes for the government and have a positive impact on their communities through social initiatives financed by casino operators. Obviously, the main risk is losing the investment, I was involved directly in a partnership between a Spanish operator and Mexican businessmen in 2012-2014, and that was the perfect example on how not to do things, in the end, the Spanish operator lost millions of Euros, the operation never opened (although it was built and ready to operate) and the Mexicans walked away almost unharmed.

3) How will the CIS gambling market develop in the future? What trends can be observed?

Francisco: I hope that each country will establish a proper legal environment for operators according to the nature of their economies, for example: the integrated resorts model is not for everybody, every country should adapt their laws to the needs of its populations. Most probably in the long term, the decisions made by the biggest countries (Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan) will set the path for the rest, because depending on what they do, that will create opportunities in the surrounding countries or not.

The way I see it now, the developing of specific gaming zones is the main trend on the CIS market, and probably, at this point in time it is the right thing to do. Most probably, Russia is not ready yet to have casinos in every city, for me it is a question of maturity of the economy and the social fabric of each country; for more than 45 years, gaming in the USA was allowed only in the state of Nevada, nowadays there are casinos almost in every state and Indian reservations. Regarding the customer base, I think that for some time, untill the economies of the CIS countries develop more, casino venues will be targeted towards VIP customers and will offer a luxury product (high limits, credit lines, refunds and so on).

4) You have an insider knowledge of the casino market. What do you think is the problem of gambling development in the CIS?

Francisco: From the distance, what I can see is the weakness of the gaming regulation and business environment, there are no clear rules in most countries; so potential investors both local and foreign are afraid of losing their investment. Most of the CIS countries are relatively new, they have a lot of things to fix before gaming, and that is quite understandable; for me it is a question of priorities, what to do first. Most probably, the gaming agenda is a secondary issue within the general regulation of the economic activities in most of the CIS countries, however as an industry we have to defend our interest in a proper manner, and work side by side with government institutions in order to design and implement a legal framework that will give gaming operators confidence and stability. Once the legal infrastructure is in place, the investments will flow as the economy of the different CIS countries improve.
When looking at my responses, take into account that I have never worked directly in a CIS country, my European experience is related to United Kingdom, Spain and Croatia.

5) Why are you interested in attending the Russian Gaming Week 2017? What do you expect from the conference?

Francisco: I really like the country, its culture, gastronomy and the sophistication of its people (speaking in general terms), more specific to the conference; I hope to learn a little bit more about the potential opportunities for business in the region and to establish professional connections with local businessmen/casino executives.

6) How would you impress attendees at the conference? What new things could they learn?

Francisco: Well, it would be very naive from my part to tell the local operators how to conduct business on their markets (I managed several casinos in Croatia in the past, which is a relatively close market, but that doesn´t mean that I have some kind of special knowledge that relates to CIS operators); what I will try to do is to give some ideas or principles that from my point of view could serve them to operate their venues with a long term focus, something that new operators normally do not take into account. Every time that a new city or region is exposed to a full-fledged casino venue, people gamble very aggressively, and overtime many customers get burned in the process, something that is not healthy nor desirable for the gaming operators. My presentation covers several topics related to the protection of the customer and how to improve the gaming experience, everyone knows the potential negative effects of having a gaming offer right at your doorsteps, but there are actions and policies that could help to reduce them, and that is what my presentation is about.

I hope that the attendees will discover several ideas that will help them when conducting their day to day operations (my presentation is directed towards casino operators and executives), including: what can they do to minimize problem gambling in their customer base, which information should we provide to the customers in order to extend their life cycle, what can they do to improve the gaming experience both in table games and slots and how to train casino management, just to name a few.


On 7-8 of June, 2017, ECC Sokolniki in Moscow will host 11th International gambling and entertainment exhibition-forum Russian Gaming Week 2017.

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Engage in an Enhanced iGaming Experience with iGATE at iGB L!VE 2024



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iGATE, a rapidly expanding iGaming platform, specialising in white-label casino solutions focused on driving customer success, is set to showcase its cutting-edge casino platform at iGB L!VE 2024 from July 17-18, 2024, at the Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre.

iGATE’s solutions specialise in merging high-end artistry with innovative functionality designed to optimise the gaming experience and enhance player engagement.

iGB L!VE 2024 is an essential gathering of iGaming professionals to explore the latest developments and connect with industry leaders.

The event is celebrated for its comprehensive coverage of gaming innovation and strategy.
John Foster, Managing Director at iGATE, commented, “iGB L!VE 2024 is a mainstay in the iGaming industry and an exciting opportunity for iGATE to demonstrate how our solutions not only captivate but also retain players through superior design and technology. We look forward to engaging with our peers and revealing how our developments can benefit operators and players alike.”

iGB L!VE 2024 participants are welcome to meet the iGATE team at Stand 12-J60 to explore the sophistication and functionality of our gaming solutions in person.

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Affiliate Industry

Exciting Changes to the European Gaming Congress 2024: More Value for Operators & Affiliates!



Exciting Changes to the European Gaming Congress 2024: More Value for Operators & Affiliates!
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HIPTHER is thrilled to announce a dynamic shift in focus for the upcoming European Gaming Congress (EGC) 2024, taking place in the vibrant city of Warsaw between 15-16 October! Our aim is to better serve our community of operators and affiliates by offering a richer, more diverse range of topics and panels.

While we will continue to provide critical insights with two compliance panels focused on Poland and the combined Nordic + D-A-CH regions, we are expanding our agenda to include exciting new topics that cater specifically to your interests and needs:

Esports: Exploring the rapidly growing world of competitive gaming and its integration with traditional gambling.

SEO: Strategies to optimize your online presence and drive more traffic to your platforms.

Marketing & PR: Innovative approaches to branding, customer engagement, and public relations in the gaming industry.

Fintech: Discovering the latest financial technologies transforming the gaming payment landscape.

Blockchain: Understanding how blockchain technology is revolutionizing transparency, security, and operations within gaming.

Special Offer: 30 Free Tickets for Affiliates and Operators!

To celebrate these exciting changes, we are offering 30 FREE TICKETS exclusively for affiliates and operators. This is your chance to gain invaluable knowledge, network with industry leaders, and stay ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving gaming landscape.

Don’t miss out! Secure your free ticket today and be part of the transformation at EGC 2024.

Claim Your Free Ticket Now:

Join us in Warsaw for a groundbreaking event that promises to deliver unparalleled insights, innovative discussions, and exceptional networking opportunities. We look forward to welcoming you to the European Gaming Congress 2024!

Stay tuned for more updates and detailed agenda announcements.

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MARE BALTICUM Gaming & TECH Summit 2024 Sparked GameTech Revolution and Unity Across the Baltics and Nordics



MARE BALTICUM Gaming & TECH Summit 2024 Sparked GameTech Revolution and Unity Across the Baltics and Nordics
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HIPTHER, leading conference organizer for Gaming and Technology industries in Europe, is thrilled to announce the completion of a revolutionary 2024 edition for their successful MARE BALTICUM Gaming & TECH Summit series.

The #hipthers brought together in Tallinn some of the best companies and most distinguished experts across iGaming, Technology and Compliance industries between 3-5 June, offering a premium experience of growth and connectivity to local and international professionals.

Relive the Moments – MBGTS 2024 Photo Album


From the Baltic and Nordic Standards to the World: iGaming & Compliance Updates

Day 1 of the Summit was brimming with Compliance updates and insights from panels focusing both on the local standards, as well as keeping up with global compliance trends. Renowned experts debated the the complexities and nuances of the iGaming regulatory landscape in the Baltics and Nordics, offered a concise overview of the complex regulatory frameworks in Serbia, the USA, Spain, Germany, and Estonia, and provided Insights into Market Dynamics, Trends, and Sports Betting Evolution in the Nordic iGaming Landscape.

Furthermore, delegates had the precious opportunity to attend an IMGL Masterclass about Navigating MiCA, EU AI Act, and DSA in the Digital Age.


Exploring Fintech, Blockchain, and the Potential of DAOs in the Gaming Industry

The Summit offered valuable insights on the evolution of financial institutions, exploring the integration of fintech and blockchain and the challenges and opportunities it brings.

Our experts introduced the concept of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) and how they are emerging as a transformative force in the gaming industry, offering new possibilities for community-driven game development, player-owned economies, and transparent governance.


Exploring Digital Engagement: Esports Dynamics, Gamification, Mobile Innovation, AI and Web3

True to its title of Gaming & TECH, the conference delved deep into all matters Tech, ranging from Gaming and the global challenges and opportunities within the eSports industry, the strategic integration of gamification to boost player retention and loyalty in the iGaming sector, and the Digital Services Act and AI EU Act for businesses, to the Integration of Blockchain and Web3 Across Industries.

A specially designed Workshop on Baltic Compliance in Web3, Fintech, and Blockchain offered  a deep dive into Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania’s regulatory frameworks, featuring interactive discussions and case studies.


The Power of Communication: Marketing & Organizational Culture Sessions

The MARE BALTICUM Summit speakers offered insights and ample food for thought for all aspects of Marketing in GameTech, starting from the power collab between SEO and Affiliate Marketing Websites, and highlighting the crossroads between B2B and B2C on the path to commercial success.

Honouring the commitment to offering valuable knowledge across the spectrum of GameTech operations, HIPTHER innovates by adding the matter of Organizational Culture in the industry’s Conference Agenda under the guidance of expert Organizational Culture Designers.


Connecting People in the 21st Century: MARE BALTICUM Networking Sessions

The magical MARE BALTICUM Experience kicked off with a relaxing Welcome Meet in the lavish environment of the Olympic Park Casino on 3 June.

Wellness and balanced nutrition are always a staple at HIPTHER conferences, and this time the Team upped the Game by adding a special Morning Yoga & Mindful Breathing Session from a certified yoga instructor, to open Day 1 with tranquility and focus. The “traditional” Morning Networking Run opened Day 2 on 5 June, also celebrating the Global Running Day 2024!

Delicious vegan meals, snacks, and coffee nourished attendees and promoted networking and bonding over new taste experiences across the lunch and coffee breaks.

Two electrifying networking parties, the Baltic & Scandinavian Gaming (BSG) Awards Ceremony Party featuring an exciting karaoke stage, and the Closing Party, offering a Private Concert, Pizza and Drinks, brought people together and ensured a fun, social, and successful experience for all!


The Future of Gaming & Technology: MARE BALTICUM 2025 and European Gaming Congress

The popular MARE BALTICUM Gaming & TECH Series travels and honours the Baltic States, and  will return next year in Vilnius! Stay tuned to HIPTHER Channels for updates!

In the meantime, HIPTHER prepares a new All-Gaming Conference Experience and invites you to the European Gaming Congress (EGC) 2024 in Warsaw on 15-16 October, to discuss and connect over Gambling Industry Compliance, iGaming Innovation, Marketing (Communication, Affiliate, SEO), Organizational Culture, and the Evolution of Fintech and Blockchain.

Secure your Early Bird EGC Tickets Until July 10

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