Participating on the final day of the SBC Barcelona Summit, Dr Christopher Dalli, CEO of L&L Europe claimed that ‘you can’t say traditional VIP is dead now, it’s been dead for a long time’.

Speaking on a panel titled ‘Reinventing VIP and Bonus Schemes’, which saw a select few industry professionals come together to discuss alternatives to attract new customers and ways to retain them, Dalli went on to state: “VIP was a very loose term in the industry for all these years, anyone depositing twice in a row could be considered VIP. 

“In truth, the procedure of how VIP is done is dead but the actual VIP still exists. The definition of VIP , thanks to regulators, has changed completely. You can’t just look and blindly shoot off VIP without keeping in mind all the compliance that now comes along with it.

“It’s natural with anyone who has been keeping an eye on the regulated markets over the last few years knows that if you don’t pay enough attention to this key factor of your business then it could get you in trouble. 

“Everybody knows the £11m fine that Betway got, closely tied to its VIP program, if anyone wants to have a sustainable business going forward then it’s very clear they can’t have a VIP program that isn’t tightly closed with their compliance.

“Having said that, it really means that everything that was done before; your hospitality, your tired program, your layers, your bonuses and your incentives, all of that still applies. The only difference now is, who are you giving it to? And have you made sure that they can actually be considered a VIP, not someone who is going to turn around and say I am in trouble and say they made me play beyond my control. That fine line between entertainment and problem.

“If you look at what the Gambling Commission has come out with in the last few years, their view is that there are 47,000 VIP’s in the country, even if they won’t give us a definition of what a VIP is, they will tell us how many there are. They also say that statistically there’s eight per cent of them which are problem gamblers which are about 3,760 people. 

“At the end of the day, traditional VIPs, in the sense of blindly shooting out incentives to everyone that comes, are dead.”

Joining Dalli on the panel, which was moderated by Martin Prantner, CEO of Finnplay Technologies, were Gali Hartuv, head of VIP at 10bet and Ilze Jansone, managing director at betBonanza.

Partially agreeing with Dalli’s statement, Hartuv believed that there were some areas, in regards to VIPs, that the industry needed to look at. He said: ”Is a traditional VIP dead? I think elements of it are but it all depends on how companies have adapted over time. 

“There’s a lot of companies that still hold on to a very old school style of VIP management, which with modern day regulation is probably not applicable and they are just buying time before they get a fine. 

“The VIP concept in terms of gaming though, as Christopher highlighted, VIP is not going anywhere. It’s just the systems that we needed to reshape themselves. We’re currently in this transitional phase, it’s just constantly changing based on the regulation and it’s constantly being redirected, so as you start working on something, it can change as we see regulation changes constantly.

“Is this driving VIP’s to less regulated markets or to newer markets, yes. Is it the best alternative, no. Yet, when you look at the current VIP styles we have and how we are managing VIP’s you need to look at what approach the companies are taking. 

“If we’re going to have a VIP program in line with the regulations now which are tightening day by day we need to adapt and we need to be more creative in how we approach traditional VIP and I think it’s just been highlighted more during the COVID period that VIP is coming into the spotlight.” 

Speaking on the impact of the pandemic and the face-to-face interaction during hospitality and VIP’s, Dalli stated: “In every crisis there is opportunity. When it hit, like all other operators, we quickly tried to shuffle to see what we were going to do, we adapted and the treatment you give to your best players and customers is no exception.

“I think what was key for us is that we understood that the players are now in a new position as well and even your most introverted person needs social contact so we found it as a good opportunity to solidify those relationships and reach out to people.”

SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital takes place over four days this week (8 – 11 September) and features four main zones – Sports Betting, Casino & Gaming, Payments & Compliance, and Affiliate & Marketing – each of which have their own conference tracks, networking roundtables and interactive expo halls. 

Click here to secure your free pass for the betting & gaming industry’s largest ever virtual event.