ICE, ICE, baby!

Going back as far as my LinkedIn history cares to show me, all I can find since December 2021 are posts about the recently held ICE London 2022 event. People have had little else to do for four months – myself included – so all we did was talk about going to London and how much fun it would be to be reunited with old friends and faces.

Clarion were finally able to put on a show, and they did just that.

The only problem with the show was that companies pulled out. I spoke to the MD of Clarion at the event (podcast coming soon), who was very happy about the turnout. He wasn’t embellishing or laying anything on; the turnout was decent, and the place was busy.

The pre- and post-show events were well attended, and people were genuinely happy to be touching base, rather than Zoom calling each other in a shirt with no pants on. Just me?

Once the first big land-based provider pulled out, however, the rest began to fall like dominos. Without Novomatic, Merkur decided to jump ship. Then came some big online absences, with Evolution a huge one, especially as on a recent YouTube 90-minute investor event, all they could talk about was showing new releases at ICE, and how every single game would be the best game ever. And to be fair, they probably will be.

Phil Pearson: “Usually, after ICE, my feet are on fire and I want to sleep for a month. After this one, the event felt unfinished.”

Companies continued to drop, and N9-10 and S6-10 were left as sort of a shrine to the minimalist movement. Just a load of wires and misplaced dreams to be found.

The problem was that with the drop in people attending, a lot of prospective clients fell through too. I spoke to many people during and after the event, and even ran a poll online to get some feedback on the quality of attendee.

Over 65% of respondents said they expected more people, or that those in attendance could not be classed as “new business”. I am also on that bandwagon. We met a lot of existing clients, a lot of suppliers and more payment providers than I knew what to do with – but the lack of new business there was telling.

As the big land-based players dropped out, the people who would attend for that reason, also did not show. People left the event on Wednesday to go home for Easter. Thursday was pretty much a morgue, and the show closed at 3pm, which felt like a school day.

Usually, after ICE, my feet are on fire and I want to sleep for a month. After this one, and after getting similar feedback from the industry, the event felt unfinished. It definitely feels like the show is back, and there is an opportunity to get back to normal, but people are not fully taking it.

Covid-19 has changed the world for the long term. Nothing is more apparent after reviewing ICE than that. Marketing must now adapt to find customers without relying on trade shows and events such as this once every few weeks. That being said, ICE will always remain the benchmark and people will always want to attend.

Meeting clients is very valuable, as is getting the insight into what others are doing, and discovering what content and third-party possibilities there are. But filling the ExCel each year will be a struggle going forwards, with more trade shows popping up on the calendar and regulation creating unique shows and conferences for each market.

In the next month alone, we have, or have had, CasinoBeats, iGaming NEXT NYC and NIGA (for which I would immediately recommend a name change).

The market is now flooded with events, and ironically, flooding is what happens when ICE melts.

Phil Pearson manages operational and commercial responsibilities as COO of Malta-based solutions provider iGaming Group.

Casumo and chief executive Shelly Suter-Hadad have agreed to part ways, iGaming NEXT understands. 

The mutual decision was made so that co-founders Oscar Simonsson and Razmus Svenningson could once again take up a more hands-on management role within the business. The duo are set to be announced as co-CEOs.

Simonsson was previously CEO of Casumo before being replaced by Suter-Hadad in 2019, when she arrived at the business from Mansion Group.

Suter-Hadad spent two-and-a-half years in the top job but will now assist with the handover process before beginning a period of gardening leave later in the year, according to several sources familiar with the situation.

During her tenure, Casumo was on the receiving end of a £6m Gambling Commission fine for historic social responsibility and anti-money laundering breaches that occurred before Suter-Hadad arrived at the business.

She implemented a new senior leadership team at Casumo and appointed several personal management licence holders as the operator sought to improve compliance procedures in regulated markets.

However, tightening regulations on both iGaming and advertising in operational markets such as the UK has made growth much harder to come by in recent years at the gamification-led casino operator.

iGaming NEXT understands Casumo was recently engaged in advanced discussions over a US SPAC merger, although the talks ultimately fell through.

Casumo has not responded to an iGaming NEXT request for comment.

Better Collective strengthened its leadership team in January with the hire of Kindred Group chief experience officer Britt Boeskov as its new SVP of strategy.

Boeskov is a highly respected industry thought leader who has been tasked with driving the future strategy of the Copenhagen-based affiliate and sports media giant.

Below, iGaming NEXT caught up with Boeskov on International Women’s Day 2022 to find out how she is settling into her new role:

iGaming NEXT: What attracted you to join the Better Collective business?

Britt Boeskov: I have followed Better Collective from a distance for some years and I had the opportunity to discuss the development of Better Collective with the two founders, Jesper and Christian. It sounded like a truly exciting journey, and so I made the decision to join them.

iGN: What are your responsibilities at Better Collective and what do you hope to achieve over the long-term?

BB: Overall, I will be overseeing the group strategy process and make sure that we are moving forward in the right direction and to engage the fast-growing organisation in where we’re heading. I will also oversee the responsible gambling area, as that is a crucial foundation to securing the path ahead for both us and for the broader industry.

iGN: How are you planning to adapt to the affiliate sector after such a long time on the operator side?

BB: First of all, by listening and learning. Even though the business is different from that of an operator, there are some similarities; the user is at the centre of any success, and Better Collective is uniquely positioned to educate users so that their experience of gambling becomes more transparent and fair.

iGN: How did you come to the decision to leave Kindred after such a long time? Was there any doubt or fear in doing something different after nearly two decades with the same business?

BB: I have had a fantastic journey with Kindred for 17 years, but this felt like the right time to engage in something new. Of course it is daunting, but also very energising to start somewhere new.

iGN: What is your proudest achievement from your time at Kindred Group?

BB: Building up strong teams of amazing people who are able to run a business that keeps transforming, while keeping the values very much alive.

iGN: What is the growth story for Kindred moving forwards, in your opinion?

BB: It has been a privilege to have been a part of the Kindred success story, but as I have now left, I don’t think I should comment on their future strategies.

iGN: Did you have an existing relationship with the senior management team at Better Collective? What is your early impression of the executive team there?

BB: I have been in the industry for many years and from a distance I have followed the ambitious team from Better Collective. I am most impressed with their vision for creating a global sports media group.

iGN: Is the online gambling industry doing enough to promote diversity and gender equality, in your view? How far has the industry progressed in this area and how far is there still to go?

BB: The recent #BreakTheBias campaign clearly demonstrates that we haven’t progressed far enough. Even if we feel we’re doing the right things and have good intentions, we need to keep an open dialogue with our colleagues about their experience, and constantly strive for more equitable outcomes. It’s worth it, both from a business perspective and on moral grounds.

iGN: Did Better Collective’s strategy for the US play a part in your decision to join the business?

BB: The US is an exciting and very tangible business opportunity, and the sports media space provides rich experiences for users. Who wouldn’t want to work with the kind of growth that exists there?