By Tim Poole
They call Prague the Heart of Europe and, at the Prague Gaming Summit, it was easy to see why.
Despite the coronavirus outbreak impeding the travel plans of many, organiser European Gaming Media and Events was congratulated on having the foresight not to cancel the event, as delegates from all over Europe descended on the Czech capital.
And while the virus, which has affected over 100,000 people across the globe, unfortunately shares its name with the Corona brand of beer, it’s a Fosters catchphrase that comes to mind when assessing the organiser's decision to run the event: "Good call."
Naturally, those who have cancelled trade shows, in many cases, can’t be blamed. That’s especially true when the decision to allow conferences with a high number of visitors ultimately comes down to the hotel or venue itself. Coronavirus’s impact on the gaming sector looks set to continue for a while longer and it's something Gambling Insider will be looking further into as the week progresses.
But the Prague Gaming Summit could quite easily have been called off – and wasn’t; which very much proved to be the correct decision.
As it welcomed visitors from all over the continent, its variety of European interests was reflected on the conference agenda, with spotlights on the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Poland and Greece. There was an equally sizeable focus on gaming law, with a contingent of some of the industry’s finest practitioners gracing the audience with their knowledge and insight. This was all before lunch alone.
As for Prague itself, what wasn't to like? While I’ll need at least one more trip to appreciate the city in all its beauty, I was able to sample the local culture (see: beer) and meet some fantastic people along the way.
After my first-ever taste of vegan food during the complimentary lunch break, the room was split into two, with panels and round table discussions taking place either side of the divide. On the round table side, there were workshops on business strategies and geographical markets, while listeners on the other side of the room were treated to talks on personalisation, diversity in gambling and Generation Z.
It’s admittedly difficult to keep panels fresh in an industry where certain topics crop up over and over again: advertising and regulation, two of my favourite topics to discuss, are unfortunately two such well-trodden examples.
But there was particular praise from the audience at the Vienna House Andel’s Prague for Dr Robert Skalina, Senior Advisor at WH Partners, and Jan Řehola, Director at IFGR and Partner at PS Legal, for their knowledgeable breakdowns of the Slovakian and Czech markets, respectively.
Like a good dissertation, the Prague Gaming Summit also concluded with strength, with many agreeing the best panel of the day was saved until last. Tiago Aprigio, CEO at All-in Global, moderated as Martin Calvert, Marketing Director at ICS, Tassos Panagiotaros, Sales Director at Golden Race, Maximilian von Portatius, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Sponsor.Online, Vlastimil Venclik, CEO at oddin.gg, and John Mallia, Team Manager – Gaming Accounts at Trustly, discussed how to engage the aforementioned Generation Z.
Don’t worry, if you became a little lost reading that list of names, the focus during the panel was laser-like as both moderator and speakers engaged their audience throughout, finishing the conference on a positive note.
No gaming event agenda is quite complete without networking drinks, of course, and, although the live saxophone made some conversations a little too hard to hear, a chilled local bar allowed everyone to unwind with a few drinks before the prospect of flying home the next day.
All conference talks will be available to view online on the Prague Gaming Summit website next week, while European Gaming Media and Events will host its next event in Tallinn, Estonia, at the Mare Balticum Gaming Summit in May. Let’s hope the coronavirus isn't still impacting the gaming calendar by then.