As one of the most respected trade bodies on the continent, the South African Bookmakers’ Association (SABA) has taken a stand on a number of key issues. Sean Coleman, SABA’s CEO, explains its commitment to blocking centralised monitoring legislation, the lessons that can be learned from the credit industry, the importance of sharing intelligence and the consequent benefits of attending what he believes to be the gambling industry's essential Pan-African b2b event.
As one of ICE Africa's Supporting Partners can you summarise what you want to achieve from October’s event?
I think ICE Africa presents a wonderful opportunity to enhance brand awareness and at the same time provide a much needed networking platform. Whilst we may be the leading trade association in South Africa, we are never complacent in our approach to growth in a market that is in a continuous state of consolidation.
Following last year’s Gambling Amendment Bill negotiations what do you foresee as the big topics of discussion?
As an industry association, we worked extremely hard to ensure that the Amendment Bill did not pass last November as it had too many controversial aspects to it, none more so than the requirement of a centralised monitoring system for all modes of gambling. The cost implications of this ill-fated idea are frightening, aside from the bureaucracy and duplication of work. Attempts to replace the National Gambling Board with a National Gambling Regulator is also ill-conceived and loses sight of the fact that gambling regulation in South Africa is a concurrent competence. Analogies were drawn with the National Credit Regulator and how that operates. The obvious difficulty with that analogy is that the credit industry does not have nine provincial boards who also regulate!
SABA is committed to responsible gaming: in your eyes how do you achieve the balance between social responsibility and enabling business to operate in a competitive environment?
SABA provides support mechanisms for its members firstly through the provision of responsible gambling material for betting shops but also serving as a central repository for members to make their respective monthly contributions to the National Responsible Gambling Programme (NRGP). SABA and NRGP work closely in the training and development space to ensure that industry staff are trained directly by the NRGP in this important area of social responsibility.
Your association has become the first of its kind to declare its support for diversity, equality, and inclusion in the industry following the recent partnership with All-in Diversity Project. Do you feel events like ICE Africa serve as an opportunity to progress diversity and equality?
Absolutely. I know the All-in Diversity Project will also have a major presence at ICE Africa and we are excited to assist the unlocking of diversity on the African continent.
In your opinion what topics will be debated in the aisles at ICE Africa and off the show floor?
From a betting industry perspective revenue diversification strategies have become key. Finding the right product mix for online and retail is important. Historically Bookmakers have had two key drivers – horseracing and sports betting. Both of these areas are the subject of image and data rights wars and contingency betting is fast becoming a viable alternative. Operators who are prepared to be disruptors of the status quo will gain an advantage – at least over the short term.
How do you think the trade bodies and regulators can benefit from having a shared meeting space at ICE Africa?
The excellent networking platform that this essential event presents should be utilised to its fullest with trade bodies being able to offer some street cred and market intelligence for exhibitors and potential investors. We have recently started a conversation with the Nigerian Bookmakers’ Association to explore mutual assistance via a MOU. One of the key elements of gambling regulation is keeping up with technology. Gambling regulators are continuously challenged when operators bring exciting new products to the approval table. Technology moves fast and is fluid. Testing and evaluation often takes time and doesn’t come cheap. Exhibitors have the capacity to engage the regulators with detailed explanations of their systems and current technologies and also create meaningful relationships. ICE Africa again provides the platform to achieve this.
Detailed information on the gaming's only B2B pan-African event as well as registration is available here.
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