Creation is both glorious and terrifying. The process of being born -- whether it is cutting the umbilical cord of a baby or a newly hatched bird cracking through its protective shell -- offers great promise, but nothing is guaranteed.
And so the offshore gaming industry, which was launched by a few early innovators using toll-free telephones to conduct business, persevered through a multitude of obstacles and today serves millions of customers.
Back in the mid-1990s, newly created sportsbooks were dealing with diverse issues ranging from a skeptical market of bettors in the U.S., to gratuitous interference by some of Uncle Sam’s agencies. But these were merely bumps in the road for a concept whose time had arrived, as sports bettors eagerly embraced a viable alternative to local bookies and the negative factors associated with them.
The growth explosion came with the marriage of technology, online wagering, and the desire of bettors to reap the benefits as they scratched their itch. With all the wireless electronic gadgets now in development to accommodate wagering, virtually every communications venue is covered, except maybe ESP.
So, despite the objections of antediluvian politicos and religious fascists, offshore gaming has grown and prospered simply by acknowledging the demand for its product. Today it is delivering new, innovative variations along with traditional betting options to a delighted audience.
Among the most telling signs that indicate the maturity of an industry is the success of trade events, those targeting businesses rather than consumers. Not trade shows mind you, but annual events sponsored by prestigious companies to encourage networking and the exchange of operational strategies.
This year, two leading offshore gaming conglomerates are holding second annual events which were launched in 2004. In chronological order they are, the Bodog (www.bodog.com) Poker & Sports Marketing Conference in Las Vegas, July 6-7, and the VO-Group’s Second Annual MVP Golf Tournament, in Costa Rica July 10-14.
Bodog’s event last year drew an impressive array of the industry’s top handicappers and other luminaries. This year’s conference has added poker to the mix, and is being touted as a chance for operators, affiliates, advertisers and suppliers to “learn from and network with the elite of the global online gambling community.”
Attendees will learn marketing trends and tactics focusing on how to increase the value of their business. Speakers with expertise in these and other areas will address the conference.
Bodog founder and CEO Calvin Ayres said, “The conference promises to offer extensive exposure to the American media and financial community.”
Of course, with a Bodog-sponsored event, you can count on a gala after-hours party. This conference is no exception, as Ayres and his minions are throwing “Party at the Palms” in the sexy Rain nightclub, because, “We work hard and play even harder,” advises the Bodog leader.
A few days later, the MVP (www.mvpsportsbook.com) bash gets underway. Last year’s inaugural event easily fulfilled its objectives and was a serendipitous blend of business and pleasure.
The all-expenses-paid sporting and entertainment trip to Costa Rica is extended to MVP’s most productive business partners. It is the company’s way of expressing gratitude for its alliances.
MVP CEO Dalton Wagner cleverly scheduled the event to coincide with MLB’s All Star break, which is the deadest time of year for sports betting.
The bon homie and camaraderie engendered during last year’s gathering was most impressive. Aggressive sports service operators mingled easily and brainstormed candidly during a business meeting.
As described on the 2005 invite, “It’s sun, sand, surf and gold within the blossoming backdrop of tropical Costa Rica.”
Bodog and MVP are liberally tapping into their marketing budgets to sponsor these events. That’s a good incentive for other books to take a long-range position to building their business, as opposed to the singular approach of cannibalizing each other’s clients with overly generous new signup offers. The industry is at a critical juncture in its rapid expansion and needs to get away from a reliance on low-balling its products and services.
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