It’s now a little over three months until CasinoBeats makes its rescheduled second appearance in Malta, with the InterContinental Malta the destination welcoming 1,500 delegates for a six-track conference featuring 150 expert speakers, together with an exhibition showcasing innovations from 40 leading suppliers. 

Among the plethora of topics set to be showcased for discussion is day two’s ‘Poker: Gaming’s Comeback Kid’ being led by Ivonne Montealegre, event director of Malta Poker Festival.

Topics to be delved into are to be explored by American entrepreneur and author Molly Bloom, Sergeii Romanenko, COO of Pokerok, Dmitry Starostenkov, CEO of Evenbet, Cristiano Blanco, head of gaming at Kindred and Manuel Lopes, CEO of Pokio/Qufan Technology.

“Poker doesn’t always get its due visibility, and I appreciate the repeated efforts by SBC to highlight the great things being done as far as this gaming vertical is concerned,” Lopes comments ahead of the exchange.

“I would like to think online poker is making a comeback although it is too early to know if the majority of operators will jump on the bandwagon in regards to poker innovation. We certainly are trying to lead the way here at Qufan Tech with our Pokio product and we encourage other operators to do the same. 

“Poker represents different things to different operators, to us its 100 per cent of our focus but to others just a small part and merely an acquisition tool to then cross sell with what they consider more profitable verticals. We have proven poker can be profitable while still remaining cool, social and recreational.”

Briefly addressing potential avenues of exploration on the day, Lopes moves on to look at how traditional slots players can be encouraged to venture away from RNG gaming and play more poker.

“We think the great attraction is the social factor. In poker you don’t play against the house, you play against and with other players,” he adds. “The interaction factor is a game changer and on another note also the fact that you can always win and it depends a lot on your skill as a player as opposed to a casino table game or slots. If this wasn’t the case why would we have the same players over and over again in final tables all across the world?

“To put it in a very simple way, poker is fun and cool and as a player you are in control. This appeals to a lot of slots players and betting punters. From our experience new poker formats also help attract these users, making poker more dynamic and creative. 

“In that respect we have to admit not much has been done in the last 10 years with only a few exceptions. While casino games and slots kept reinventing themselves poker remained almost static. We are part of a movement that is trying to change that and we think we already had a strong impact in the industry. 

“The best example of that is that one of the top five online poker operators in the world just launched an update to their mobile platform that is the splitting image of Pokio. We are of course flattered … It must mean we are doing something right.”

Before turning attention to the recurring gamification conversation, and what, if anything, other online casino verticals could learn from poker: “I think we can learn from each other. There are also some very good examples of gamification in casino like Casumo or Casino Heroes to name a few.

“But we can definitely dig more into gamification in different ways. In our case we try to tap into the gamers demographics, mostly the millennials who are already well versed in mobile games and freemium models. 

“We have combined that with our real money platform and created a one of a kind real money social poker experience that is fun for the recreational user. Most operators position themselves trough marketing and branding. Our focus is product, our users are so passionate about Pokio and our business model that they are our best marketing partners.”

Turning attention to the event itself, Lopes explains following up an appearance at September’s CasinoBeats Summit with participation this month: “I really like CasinoBeats. I had the chance to speak at the Last one in London and gladly accepted to do it again when I was approached.

“There are two things that really stand out for me. The quality and subject of the panels and also the quality of attendance. You see a lot of senior and C level executives taking part and a lot of good deals and decisions are done during these SBC events.”

Concluding with hopes and expectations during the two days: “I’m looking forward to the networking as usual but also to the panels and to see all the groundbreaking ideas and concepts that usually pop out at these SBC events . 

“In my opinion they are a great contribution to innovation in the industry and definitely a hotbed for discussion on important topics. I share the same vision as I think gaming companies can’t be isolated and focused only on their personal mission. 

“Together we are stronger, so its time to leave old practices aside and move forward as a whole. I fully support this approach and I hope to come back with more ideas and definitely a more open mind to new concepts and models.”

Tickets for CasinoBeats Malta are now available to book via the official website, while those interested in sponsorship opportunities at the event should contact [email protected].