As the future of the Italian gaming industry passes through sustainability – may that be the impact of the sector on society, economy and employment or protection from public order and legality – achieving a balance can be a complex matter.
On the first day of SBC Digital Italia Summit, this topic was discussed more in depth through the eyes of leaders within the region’s igaming sector on a panel entitled ‘The sustainable future of gaming’ – moderated by Giancarlo Loquenzi, journalist at RAI Radio 1.
Kickstarting the conversation on balance within sustainability, Guglielmo Angelozzi, CEO at Lottomatica Group, emphasised that it is a “complex problem but also a critical one” where companies need to find a balance between all of the “interests and needs.”
He continued: “I think that the most important variables in order to find a balance, in order of priority, is first of all, guaranteeing safety for the product offering for customer protection and fighting illegality. This question has been open for a long time and we should not ignore it. There’s some ethical aspect to take into consideration and this needs to be mentioned and discussed.
“We need to recognise this problem exists and we need to protect the customers interest. In my opinion these are the two main variables and the pandemic highlighted this. We have an explosion of illegal games, four million Italians, according to a study from ipso, who have used these products.”
Yet, whilst Angelozzi referenced the customer protection, Markus Buechele, CEO at Novomatic Italia, stressed that technology is key when discussing the future of sustainability, pinpointing its importance for the future of gaming and rule implementation.
“Technology is important for the user and we are producing games for the legal channel,” added Buechele. “We have assessed the importance of the Italian market. We have modern and transparent regulations and we have longer periods of market stability.
“We have to meet the market demand and try to satisfy this demand for technology development and this requires investment in RND. The development of technology gives a positive contribution to stability and enables us to find balance.
“I think investing in technology will be the key for the future because it will certainly give us a high safety level for the people and consumers and the state.
“We use our technology exclusively for the legal gaming sector and it’s important to focus on innovation and development of technology because only the reliability of the technological platforms can guarantee certainty for identifying illegal activities.”
Whilst both Buechele and Angelozzi highlighted areas for balance and focus for the Italian market, Francesco Durante, CEO at Sisal, reiterated the importance of legal gaming within Italy and, while acknowledging there are problems, is “convinced the sector is the solution and not the problem”.
He noted: “With regards to sustainable business models protecting the players, but also the occupation, we have to change our approach to reaffirm our commitment to player protection. This will be the main challenge for the sector in 10 years.
“The Italian model has already been a point of reference over the world and this is also thanks to the investment made by companies that obtain authorisation for legal gaming. Yet, this is no longer sufficient and now we have to go from a compliance approach to a commitment approach.
“It’s not sufficient to just adhere to international standards and rules but we need to focus on the user and invest more on technology, information and communication in order to give a contribution to the culture of the games so it can be balanced in order to prevent problems and protect vulnerable users.
“In the next 10 years, we would like to concentrate our investments until we are convinced we have reached our objective which is zero problem users in Italy.”
Moving forward, Loquenzi cast the panel’s attention to the future and asked how the Italian sector can spread more awareness about the legal market so all the money generated can be used for charitable purposes.
Addressing the question, Fabio Schiavolin, CEO of Snaitech, noted that the ban on publicity hinders the gaming sector whilst being a “boomerang” for sports which has “created a loss in productivity” in the sports supply chain in comparison to football teams outside of Italy who “keep receiving profits from the gaming industry”.
He continued: “I believe that the lack of communication actually takes awareness away from us. It doesn’t help to communicate and interact with the negative perception that the public has towards the gaming sector.
“Communication should step forward. This industry has grown incredibly in the past few years. I’ve seen that in the quality of the managers and CEOs, so the awareness of what we are is a clear fact. Internally, we need to be able to take it outside.”
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