20 May, 2024

Preview: SiGMA Asia 2024

SiGMA’s annual Asia summit comes back to Manila – signifying the return of the Asia-Pacific Global Gaming Awards for its first ever in-person ceremony 

Once again, the gambling community is building up for SiGMA’s 2024 Manila summit – marking the event’s second outing following a successful Philippine debut last year. The summit is a large-scale networking event, with 350+ featured speakers discussing the hottest topics in Asian gambling. Further, invitees can access a plethora of networking dinners and parties, as well as the prestigious Global Gaming Awards Asia-Pacific ceremony.

The PAGCOR-endorsed event will take place at the SMX Convention Center, which from 3-5 June, will see an influx of around 3,000 operators and 20,000 delegates. The aim of the summit is to expedite proactive discourse around driving the gambling and related industry sectors forward across the Asian continent. SiGMA held its first ever event in Malta, 2014. This summit was attended by 1,000 delegates and – in the time since – SiGMA has grown into a global conglomerate. The company made its events debut in the United Arab Emirates in 2021, launching an event in Dubai – followed by Toronto and Belgrade.

A major hub in Southeast Asia, Manila is a key geographical location for the rapidly developing gambling market across the entire continent. This makes it the ideal choice for an event which brings together the industry’s best and brightest to celebrate, investigate and anticipate the ramifications of all the latest developments in Asian gambling. Talks from industry members will take place across the venue’s two stages over the course of the summit – offering insights on a range of topics. Regulation is first on the agenda on the SiGMA Affiliates Stage, kicking off day one of the event with conversations that unpick the cyber regulatory landscape – and the latest in data protection – across the Asia-Pacific region. This talk will be led by Ilya Machavariani, CEO & Senior Partner of gambling business consulting firm – 4H Agency.

The growth opportunities of land-based casinos and how they will co-exist with online gaming in Asia – with a particular focus on Southeast Asia – is also on the list for day one. In a panel led by Jade Group Founder & CEO Joe Pisano and PH Resorts COO Angel Sueiro, the conversation kicks off with the exploration of land-based growth opportunities and potential ramifications. Intriguing topics such as the rise and fall of Junket operations in Asia are open for debate. Here, we will also see the juxtapositions of the Asian and Southeast Asian markets explored, with relevance to illegal gambling activities and organised crime. The panel will then conclude by dissecting the similarities, differences, and potential integration of land-based and online casinos.

Over on the AIBC Stage, Stephanie Tower, Country Head for chain Philippines, unpicks the digital economy development in Asia. Lunchtime talks unravelling one of the most stimulating new developments in the industry – AI – will be held on this stage, with innovation and technology speaker Tony Ventura opening the panel. Ventura will then be followed by David Meltzer. Meltzer is set to discuss the application of AI techniques for entrepreneurs.

As well as being a top 10 Forbes speaker and Co-founder of Sports 1 Marketing – he is also the CEO of Leigh & Steinberg Sports & Entertainment, which served as the inspiration for Jerry Maguire. Kicking off at 3pm, the prestigious Global Gaming Awards hosts its first in-person Asia-Pacific ceremony. With the esteemed Awards having established a presence across the globe through long-running annual shows in London and Las Vegas, the Asia-Pacific ceremony is set to make its in-person debut on day one of the SiGMA Summit in Manila. The Awards celebrate the industry’s strongest performers from the Asia-Pacific region over the last 12 months, with the voting process independently adjudicated by KPMG in the Crown Dependencies.

Notable awards up for grabs include Casino Operator of the Year, Corporate Social Responsibility of the Year and Executive of the Year. The gambling landscape in Asia is complex and evolving fast. The emergence of online gaming in Asia in the early 2000s acted as a catalyst for what has been an iGaming boom in the continent. A few factors as to why there is an increased emphasis on online gambling in Asia are at play. For a start, there is an increasing number of people who own smartphones, partly accredited to what is a growing middle class – which in turn has led to more people with disposable income. What’s more, let’s not forget that the Asian population accounts for 60% of the world.

The evolution of online gambling in Asia is the subject of conversation kicking off day two, opening on the SiGMA Affiliates stage with a panel on sportsbooks and esports in Asia. Speakers Pavel Dergachev of 4H Agency and Maksim Afanasev, Sportradar Director – unpick the future vision of esports. This will be followed by the discussion of online casino & gaming trends, with speakers, including Cedomir Tomic, Founder & CEO of iGaming aggregator Alea, discussing AI-driven solutions, and the market opportunities and regulatory landscapes in Southeast Asia. During the afternoon of day two on this stage, there is also an opportunity for up-and-coming starters to showcase their work through the AIBC startup Pitch Asia slot.

Day two closes with the Centurion MMA fight, which is open to premium and platinum ticket holders. Proceeds from the SiGMA Manila Summit 2024 will be donated toward the SiGMA foundation. Described by SiGMA as the Group’s ‘philanthropic arm,’ the foundation was formed in 2019 and is dedicated to supporting underprivileged communities across the world through fundraising initiatives and expeditions. Aside from being dedicated to a good cause, the SiGMA Manila Summit 2024 represents an exciting time for Gambling on the Asian continent, which is at last starting to mark its recovery from the strains of the Covid-19 pandemic. With a recent indicator of health being revealed in Macau’s March gaming revenue statistics – up 53% and finally breaching pre-Covid-19 levels – events such as the first ever in person Asia-Pacific Global Gaming Awards, in-and-amongst the overall summit, can act as a celebration of a recovering industry beginning to thrive once again.