Every Friday, CasinoBeats is thinking out loud

LEAVING the lift at Olympia, the bustling exhibition floor of Betting in Sports reveals itself. It is proper busy. A man CB recognises, dark hair, slim, around forty years old enters the lift.

Polite glances are exchanged – an unspoken “Alright, mate,” and CB strains for the memory of who this person is. Betting or casino? Operator or supplier? A consultant, maybe. Possibly a regulator.

And then it clicks – it’s five-times snooker world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan. He’s easily recognisable in truth although, admittedly, it would’ve been easier if he’d been in a waistcoat and bow tie. And holding a snooker cue. Maybe next year.

The point is, faces. At an event like Betting on Sports – and, by extension, the CasinoBeats Summit – there are so many familiar ones. And not just sports people. Founders, CEOs past and present, industry “legends”. Keeping up with the growing SBC Global family can be challenge enough.

There’s Paris Smith, CEO of Pinnacle, and – chatting to one of the SBC team – is DraftKings CEO Jason Robins. Opening the show was Sean Bratches, managing director of commercial for F1. Waiting patiently for coffee is Jaap Kalma, the former chief commercial officer of AC Milan. Speaking of Italy, there’s Fabio Schiavolin, CEO of operator Snaitech.

Later on, at the Hall of Fame ceremony, Fabio will be inducted alongside others including BetConstruct founder and CEO, Vigen Badalyan. Those awards are hosted by Sky Sports presenter Kirsty Gallacher, as recognisable a face as any in UK sports broadcasting.

It might be barely nine months since CasinoBeats flickered into life but, already, the enormity of the opportunity is dawning. When it comes to sports betting, everyone is here. Countless operators, a stream of faces from the industry media pages and magazines.

Upstairs, from where CB has dashed mid-session to check on the speakers for the next panel, the inaugural CasinoBeats Summit plays out. The CBS room isn’t super easy to find but, again and again, visitors are seeking it out.

The main reason is the quality of the panels, just a little of Betting on Sports’ VIP magic rubbing off. The first CBS included speakers from a wide range of leading suppliers and operators, including Ladbrokes Coral, LeoVegas, Betsson, Jackpotjoy and more.

The networking opportunities this cast of players presents is almost immeasurable. Whether a CBS panel drew 30 or 80, and irrespective of whether they’d been gathered outside waiting for the session or had trickled in throughout – without exception there were a handful of delegates waiting at the end keenly seeking introductions.

This event – the established BoS but also CBS – is characterised best by the people on the stage. By the influencers, the decision-makers and the innovators.

The networking parties are also a cut above. There are other similar events throughout the year, of course – there’s no monopoly on putting together a decent ‘do’ – but the SBC ones never disappoint. At Betting on Football in February, the main networking party was a takeover of the Namco centre, in the shadow of the London Eye, just across Westminster Bridge from the Houses of Parliament. It was memorable, bonding with the guys from Proof of Toss over Time Crisis 5 and kicking the ass of the SBC sales team on the pool table.

At BoS, the bar was raised to new heights with a Thursday night closing party at the Natural History Museum in Kensington. It is a remarkable building and one that CB has not been to since the age of 11 when, unforgettably, Stephen Perkins smashed CB’s drinks bottle by kicking it against the foot of a display table. CB saved all its spends, including £1 notes – notes – to buy some Fools Gold (aka iron pyrite) in the museum shop. The prize was promptly misplaced on the coach home, never to be seen again. The memory still stings (can you tell?).

Haunting childhood reminisces of Perkins and pyrites aside, the Natural History Museum is an extraordinary venue in which to hold a party. The vast Hintze Hall, now permanent home to a 25-metre swooping blue whale skeleton called Hope, played host to a wide range of visitors from the Betting on Sports, CasinoBeats Summit, AffiliateFEST and eSports Insider events.

The CEO of a major online casino tells CB. “SBC really know how to treat their guests. In terms of C-level events, there are very few that we look forward to but this one is right up there. It’s fun, and it’s a chance to see old friends and make new ones. We feel valued.”

It’s soon time to go. The party is in full swing but CB has a newsletter going out in 10 hours and people need to hear about the whale. On the way out, CB spots a familiar face hovering near the cloakroom. It’s not Ronnie O’Sullivan this time but Kirsty Gallacher, awaiting her driver. CB engages the presenter in the briefest chat.

Kirsty was happy with how it went and, like everyone, was in awe of the venue. “I gather we’ll be seeing you again, as host of our awards in December?” asks CB.

“That’s right, I’ll be back,” smiles Kirsty. She’s not the only one.