An SBC News interview

SBC Summit Lisbon producers: "We’re planning as many new formats as possible this year"

Reading time 8:18 min

Last year, SBC announced the relocation of its flagship event to Lisbon. Set against the backdrop of the Feira Internacional de Lisboa, SBC Summit, scheduled for the 24-26 of September, anticipates an attendance of 25,000, introduces three new summits and expands across a sprawling show floor spanning 100,000m2, boasting 600 exhibitors and representatives from the global sports betting and iGaming communities.

In anticipation of this year's event, SBC News' Maria Tsnompilantze sat down with key figures from the conference side to delve into the content offerings of the summit. The conversations, reproduced below, included insights from Aidan Brain, VP of Conference Production; Jack Richards and Natalie Lees, Senior Conference Producers overseeing the main SBC Summit agenda; and Laura Byrne, Events Manager at Esports Insider, who offered a sneak peek into what attendees can expect from ESI Lisbon this year, set to unfold as part of the wider SBC Summit.

SBC: How did you approach constructing such a far-reaching conference agenda? 

Aidan Brain (VP of Conference Production): To begin with, research, research, research. 

As a team, we knew it’d be easy to recycle the same old topics, but the audience expects more from SBC Summit. Therefore, we engaged with all of our industry friends to come up with something as up-to-date and cutting edge as possible

With seven stages – plus one Super Stage and one Leaders Summit – there was a lot to handle, so we divided the workload among the team. For example, Natalie, the brains behind our CasinoBeats Summit, naturally took on our Casino stage. Jack, our go-to-guy for sports betting, researched and wrote the Sports stage.

Also, as always, we are building the agenda in a way that encourages dialogue as much as possible – this is a place for the industry to learn from one another. We’re planning as many new formats as possible this year – from hackathons to debates and roundtables – to ensure things don’t get stale.

SBC: SBC Summit is set to be the biggest SBC event yet. Has this additional space allowed you to include any elements that you have previously not been able to implement at other SBC events and what are you most looking forward to regarding the conference agenda at SBC Summit?

AB: The biggest addition to Lisbon this year is the Super Stage

I don’t want to spoil too much, but this is like nothing we’ve seen before at an SBC event in terms of sheer ‘wow’ factor. It’s not just the stage itself, but also the content and formats we’ve planned for it! 

The audience always wants to hear from its leaders, but we’re also looking to bring in those from outside the gaming industry. It’s not often the audience gets the opportunity to hear from them, and there are real lessons to be learned.

In terms of what I’m most looking forward to. Well, 5pm on Thursday, 26th September! I’m obviously kidding, but overall, this is a huge undertaking for the team, more so than ever before, so I’m sure we’ll all be relieved once a successful show has been completed! 

I’m excited for the audience to see and experience the Super Stage, and the fact that we now have three days of content instead of two. 

Topics we had to set aside last year will now have the space and time they deserve in 2024. 

SBC: What emerging trends are highlighted across different sessions, and how do they reflect the current state and future trajectory of the gaming industry?

AB: Obviously, one of the biggest drivers of change in the industry is technology – whether it’s AI, machine learning, new developments in CRM for marketing, or increasing digitization in everything from player protection to affiliation. 

Elsewhere, we’re witnessing the potential for sweeping regulatory change – this year is a major election year in many countries, and we’ll see that reflected in the agenda. 

SBC's flagship event bid Barcelona farewell last year

SBC: On the Leaders stage, discussions will focus on geographic regions like Europe, Latin America, North America, Africa, and Asia. Can you outline the key perspectives for each region, and what insights will be shared regarding the challenges and opportunities of operating in these diverse markets?

AB: As mentioned, there are major regulatory changes coming in almost every market, particularly in Europe where scenarios such as the UK white paper on gambling could potentially reset the board. 

In the United States, the question is whether sports betting will continue expanding across the states, and if not, how operators can respond and reinforce their current place in the market.

In Latin America, all eyes are on Brazil, which has just opened up to sports betting, but there are also issues with advertising regulation and multiple countries in the region where grey market operators are still major players. 

Asia presents a tougher landscape as most markets are unregulated, but we’ll explore countries such as the UAE and the Philippines.

In Africa, South Africa is obviously a big focus, but there are other important territories to discuss, so we try not to leave anywhere out! 

As always, we encourage dialogue as much as possible – this is a place for the industry to learn from one another. We’re planning as many new formats as possible this year to make sure things don’t get stale, from hackathons to debates and roundtables.  

SBC: As an event encompassing all verticals, SBC Summit Lisbon will once again host dedicated stages for sports betting and casino. What are the primary trends and upcoming developments expected in both verticals?

Jack Richards (Senior Conference Producer): It’s a huge year for sports, given that we have the European Championships and Copa America dominating the football landscape. On top of that, the Olympics taking place in Paris create a crowded field of sporting events. While Paris 2024 may not be the largest for the betting markets, the sponsorship and marketing angles will certainly keep us creatively entertained. 

The year will culminate with global elections, none bigger than the US presidential race, dubbed to be ‘the most gambled-on event of all time,’ so there are a lot of new angles for us to work on here.

Natalie Lees ( Senior Conference Producer): At the SBC Summit, we’re not just hosting stages; we’re offering a glimpse into the casino vertical’s dynamic future. This event will not just be about observing, but rather about being part of the innovation that drives our industry forward. Some of the topics we’re going to spotlight are sweepstake casinos, the casino games themselves and AR and VR.

Sweepstake casinos are at the forefront as this model reflects a significant shift in how players interact with casino platforms, blending traditional excitement with modern regulatory savvy. It’s a digital evolution, making waves by offering everyone a seat at the table.

The core of the casino experience, the games themselves, are also undergoing a renaissance. Innovations in game features and design are captivating audiences, merging artistry with technology to create immersive, thrilling experiences. It’s as if every game release is a premiere, with players awaiting the next big hit.

On the technological front, Augmented and Virtual Reality are transforming the casino floor into an expansive, immersive world. This integration is like opening a portal to new dimensions, where every spin or deal is an adventure. And with cryptocurrency’s emergence, we’re witnessing a revolution in transactions, promising security and speed in the digital age.

SBC: With the debut of the Payment Expert Summit in 2024, featuring its dedicated stage, what specific themes will dominate the conference agenda in relation to payment expertise?

JR: The Payments Expert stage is one of our stages that traverses the industry most extensively. 

We’ve got experts from other industries, as well as payments specialists who can share their expertise on the latest developments in the wider fintech space. 

We are also planning content around geo-specific payments and compliance markets to provide comprehensive education for all teams involved in the operational side of organisations, which I’m quite excited about. “The fact that the Payments vertical gets its own summit definitely gives us more space and freedom to dig deeper and talk nerdier.

SBC: In the context of the Affiliate Leaders Summit, how does the event plan to support affiliates of all sizes by addressing their pain points?

NL: At the Affiliate Leaders Summit, we’re addressing the needs of every single affiliate, from the seasoned giants to the agile startups. Our goal is to deliver a programme so diverse and in-depth that everyone walks away richer in knowledge and strategy.

For our tier 1 affiliates, think of our sessions as the corner office of insights—exclusive, elevated, and designed to challenge the status quo. These sessions are about pushing the envelope, encouraging you to look beyond the horizon and question, “What’s next?”

The startups and smaller affiliates, will be pleased by the fact that our practical learning sessions are far from entry-level. They’re the essential toolkit, the Swiss Army knife for the modern affiliate, packed with actionable strategies and no-nonsense advice to navigate the complexities of the affiliate ecosystem.

But here’s where we add a twist: the summit isn’t just a lecture series; it’s a think tank, a collective brain trust of the affiliate community. We’re fostering an environment of collaboration, where ideas bounce, perspectives clash, and innovation sparks. In this dynamic arena, standing still is the only faux pas. 

Let’s not just occupy space; let’s own it, shall we?

SBC: In a new development, we’re partnering with our sister company ESI to introduce the ESI Lisbon to SBC Summit 2024. While panel discussions specifically on esports have been a staple, tell us more about ESI Lisbon and the focus on esports, video games and the gaming creator economy.

Laura Byrne (Events Manager at Esports Insider)Since its launch in 2017, ESI has cemented itself as a leader in the B2B space and the go-to esports industry events provider. After a milestone year in 2023 with record attendance and partners across London, Singapore and Warwick, we were looking to take our flagship event to the next level and expand our offering, and we couldn’t be more excited to join our sister company in Lisbon. 

Gaming and esports thrive in an exciting intersection among so many industries, which is why over the last few years, we have chosen to ensure that brands and companies from video games, the creator economy, technology, sports, entertainment and beyond are represented. 

ESI Lisbon will see us double down on this approach with our most ambitious industry festival yet as we bring together those in and around video games, esports and the gaming creator economy, with some B2C elements to complement our B2B core, and content across multiple tracks crafted to educate, inspire debate and bring key industry leaders together.

We’re bringing across some of our most exciting IPs including the ESI Film Festival, a gaming short film festival launched at BAFTA last year, our start-ups competition The Clutch, the ESI Hall of Fame, gaming creator economy event Checkpoint, and we’re introducing Esports Leaders. 

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