Slotegrator interviewed SiGMA Business Development Director Zakaria El Maroufi
SiGMA Business Development Director Zakaria El Maroufi spoke about how the company has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic and what role digital technologies have played during this period, as well as what the group has planned for 2022, what kind of participants we can expect at iGathering, and why SiGMA is looking to expand in Asia.
Experience in digital networking
Despite the radical impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on networking, it is still a vital part of the iGaming sector, El Maroufi noted. Millions of people have been forced to live in isolation, and face-to-face meetings, the foundation of SiGMA's activities, have been canceled everywhere. The company was on the verge of having to stop its primary activity — connecting people with each other through famous offline events.
However, thanks to the team’s speed and flexibility the group was not only able to adapt to the pandemic, but also perceived it as an opportunity for reflection and development. SiGMA has pioneered virtual events in the industry by introducing online presentations. Each month, the company focused on a new region, ultimately covering the whole world.
SiGMA has grown into a complete media platform with content translated into 10 languages. Based on the charitable division of the SiGMA Foundation, a new academic program, SiGMA College, was created. This is a Netflix-style education — free online training programs within the iGaming industry, available worldwide.
SiGMA Europe 2020 has also gone online. SiGMA Europe Virtual broke a long list of records, with 6,500 delegates, 4,500 active visitors, and 1,485 concurrent viewers making it the biggest expo of the year.
Achievements and plans for the future
El Maroufi spoke about the achievements and milestones of 2021. The first SiGMA Group expo outside of Europe was an event in Dubai, organized with the help of sister companies AIBC and AGS, and the event also enjoyed the public support of the government of Dubai. In 2021, as many as four events were organized under one roof, and Malta Week has become the largest event so far.
El Maroufi outlined the event trends in 2021:
● The growth of the play-to-earn and gamify concepts
● Even greater development of online gambling due to the pandemic
● Changing the global approach to gambling regulation
One of the key issues on the agenda is the future of the iGaming industry in Asia and expectations from SiGMA in 2022. El Maroufi confirmed that Asia has come to the forefront of the world economy. There are more than three billion players worldwide, and more than half of them in Asia. This means the region has tremendous potential for investment in the iGaming industy.
In 2022, the SiGMA Group will travel east with the first appearance of SiGMA's parent company at the event in Dubai. 5,000 visitors are expected, from industries ranging from gaming to cryptocurrencies. The SiGMA Conference in Asia aims to bring together pioneers from all over the continent, as well as all those who want to join Industry 4.0.
SiGMA currently has several offices around the world, including Malta, Belgrade, Cyprus and Manila, with new locations expected in 2022. As for SiGMA Europe, Zakaria El Maroufi has a positive outlook.
The group is taking a big step in June of this year — SiGMA has decided to launch its North American show in Canada. There are already many big brands in this niche in the US —- namely, ICE, G2E, and SBC. Nevertheless, the company is sure it can bring new aspects to the market.
SiGMA brings the iGaming world together, even when it's physically impossible. The company decided to hold monthly mini-conferences, where participants discuss key topics on issues that are especially important for each region, such as regulation, taxes, and new technologies. Among the participants are thought leaders and academics, and informative speeches are available in the form of a podcast.
In addition to the speakers, over 2,500 delegates and over 1,500 spectators have registered for the SiGMA Virtual Roadshows, reaching 14 nations in 2021. Previously, the roadshow attracted more than 75 participants and more than 6,000 visitors.
“SiGMA’s iGatherings are a true next-level networking opportunity,” commented Slotegrator. The iconic series of exclusive iGathering private events takes place across three continents, with participants from Bulgaria, Armenia, Canada, and Serbia joining in 2022. Catering for guests is limited to 200 senior representatives from different countries. Meetings at luxury restaurants, sunset cruises, and pool parties are great opportunities to find the right people in the right place.
Slotegrator thanked Zakaria El Maroufi for the interview and asked how he came to the iGaming industry — how his career in SiGMA and before it developed.
The top manager chose iGaming because it provides an opportunity to explore an innovative and competitive market. In addition, qualified specialists in this segment are always in demand.
Zakaria El Maroufi left his country almost five years ago and decided to settle in Malta because of the island's laid-back lifestyle and climate. He joined SiGMA as an intern, worked his way up to Account Manager, and is now Director of Business Development. The path was not easy, because he studied and worked at the same time, but it was worth it — the journey led him to SiGMA.