Power 50 Summit: Round – up

Once again Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire provided the backdrop to two days of business, discussion and pleasure. Simon Brandon reports.

The second annual eGaming Review Power 50 Summit was held in Brocket Hall on 23-25 April. Thanks to a spot of insurance fraud, Lord Brocket is not allowed back into his ancestral home, but he would nevertheless be happy to know it is being put to such good use.

This year the summit was attended by 84 delegates – a handful more than last time – from the most influential companies in the egaming sector. Many attendees had arrived from countries several time zones away, and as this industry grows, time becomes ever more precious to its exponents.
      But the consensus afterwards was that the summit had accomplished exactly what it had been arranged to do: provide an opportunity to recap, to do business, to find and approach potential partners and to look towards the future. For some delegates it was also an opportunities   to put names to faces of service providers they had not yet had the chance to meet.
     “The Power 50 Summit was a massive success,” says Charlie Kerr, managing director of Pageant Media. “We were honoured to get together so many industry leaders who could discuss in a frank and open environment the future of our industry. Again this was made possible by our generous sponsors, who present the best service provision in egaming. ”

Kids in the hall

The venue itself is breathtaking. The hall is set in 500 acres of landscaped Hertfordshire countryside:   London, a mere 35 miles away, seems much further. Those attendees who were at the summit for the first time were easy to spot as they walked from room to room with mouths agape.
      The house’s crowning glory must be its banqueting hall – not only was the food universally excellent, but it was eaten beneath a magnificent fresco-adorned ceiling, while the diners, lit from above by an enormous chandelier, looked out onto the hall’s bordering lake.

      And, once again, the housekeeping staff at the hall performed admirably. One jet lagged (and admittedly a little the worse for wear) Canadian delegate reported keeping a butler up until five o’clock on Monday morning discussing British politics, a task that surely falls beyond any reasonable expectation of good service.
      For those present who were not used to living with the harsh realities of butlers and drinks trolleys, a little misbehaviour was almost inevitable. Luckily the standard had been set by a former eGaming Review editor’s attempts at interior decoration last year. This crows crowd must have been a delight by comparison.

      Most attendees arrived on Sunday night for a pre-dinner drink, followed by dinner and an after –dinner drink or two. The atmosphere in the drawing room was immediately convivial and became more so as the evening – and the morning – wore on. In fact, the summit as a whole found a satisfying balance between work and play. One example was provided by the gentleman found snoring gently on a Regency sofa early on Tuesday morning after a very late night, who made it to the conference fresh and unfazed an hour later.

Serious business

Monday morning saw the first of the summit’s academic sessions. After an introduction by Scott Longley, editor of eGaming Review, Michael Hirst chaired what was by common consent one of the highlights of the conference, a discussion with the chief executives of two of egaming’s biggest players, Nigel Payne of Sportingbet and John Anderson of 888.
      Their conversation was followed by a look at where the industry is headed, with predictions and insights offered by Susan Breen of Mishcon de Reya, Alex Kyriakidis of Deloitte and James Rudd of Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein.
      Last was a discussion of the opportunities for the industry presented by TV, which included presentations from Sam Orams of Pokerzone and Crispin Nieboer of the Poker Channel.

Monday afternoon

The afternoon was taken up with more leisurely pursuits. Delegates were able to choose between racing four-wheel drive vehicles around a course on the estate or playing golf on a Nick Faldo-designed  (although deceptively forgiving) championship course.
      The various activities, which included six-wheeled Argokats, dune buggies, Powerturns (dual-controlled vehicles with no steering wheel) and a reverse-steering jeep were sponsored respectively by Playtech, boss media Neteller and Paysafecard, while the golf was sponsored by Michael Page International. Thanks must go to them all for an enjoyable Monday afternoon. The participants in each activity were divided into teams, although the level of teamwork varied according to who was talking and whether they won or lost.

      The golf prize was awarded to Roger Raatgever, Anders Holmgren, ED Ware and Ron Martin – after an impressive round. Ron Martin won the nearest-the –pin prize  and Andrew Branscombe the award for the longest drive, at an incredible 275 yards. The shortest drive competition was hotly contested, but unfortunately nobody came forward to claim the prize. The driving event was won by Team Byron.

Following dinner on Monday came the poker tourment, which was again organized by Ongame Network. Last year the winner was presented with a very nice set of poker chips : this year the organizer upped the stakes – first place won a US $ 5,000 ticket to the Barcelona final of the upcoming US $ 5m Ongame Network Poker Classic.
      The tournament was won eventually by Alistair Assheton, chief executive of Leisure & Gaming, after a fiercely contested final table. He came second last year and left with nothing –hopefull this win will go some way assuaging the 12 months of hurt in between.

Tuesday blues

The conference continued on Tuesday morning. The Beermat Entrepreneur provided the focus for the first session, with author Chris West looking at how entrepreneurial companies could take steps to move forward from the one-man-one-idea of their beginnings.
      Next was a look at where the smaller operators – those with sub – US $100m revenues – should be heading. The panel consisted of Alistair Assheton, Greg Feehely, head of research at Altium Securities, Matthew Gerard, analyst at Investec Securities, and Andrew Burnett, head of mergers and acquisitions at Empire online. The delegates wound up the event in ‘buzz groups ’, analyzing and proposing solutions to the hurdles faced by this business.

      The feedback has been uniformly excellent. EGaming Review set out to provide an environment where the industry could come together and talk in informal and relaxing surroundings – and, according to the delegates we spoke to throughout the event, that is exactly what was achieved. Business was done, new partnerships were formed, expertise and knowledge were shared, and hopefully egaming as a   whole took a step forward. Twelve months is a long time in this industry, and it will be interesting to see who attends next year. eGaming Review looks forward to welcoming you all again the