Following her appointment as an ICE Africa Champion, Judy Kiragu, Director, GoldenKey Casino and the Kenya Association of Project Managers, is already ‘feeling the energy’ of what can be achieved by uniting regulatory boards, thought leaders and operators under one roof. Ahead of her participation in the Eastern Africa Roundtable networking session, she explores the importance of brand trust, the power of ICE Africa’s research pool and why the continent needs Champions.
In your opinion what will the ICE brand bring to Africa?
Kiragu: The ICE focus on Africa is ‘fresh’. It is bringing the newest gaming products and innovations closer to us and opening up avenues for locals to pursue job opportunities in gaming which is very important. Due to the growth of gaming activities in Africa, manufacturers will also consider having their plants here which will impact Africa’s GDP. ICE Africa will feature a huge pool of gaming experts drawn from all over the world with a diverse range of experiences. These experts need to work closely with other gaming regulators and operators from Africa. For Africa to have sustainable regulation – research, education and collaboration are essential parts of the process. ICE Africa has made all of this possible by creating a meeting point where groups can meet and collaborate. I am looking forward to working with my fellow Champions and I can feel the energy already. We need to work together, agree achievable goals and create a working relationship that is going to be beneficial to all of us here in Africa. The continent needs us as champions and we have ICE to thank for bringing us together.
How are you preparing for your Champion role and what significance does this have for Kenya as one of the chosen regions?
Kiragu: The industry in East Africa has been dogged with uncertainty, unsustainable tax laws and regulation. The public and government view does not make it easier for the industry, particularly the misconception that increased taxes are a solution to problem gambling. What’s emerging is a need to reconcile public, government and the industry so that unregulated operators do not take advantage. Regulators in East Africa are developing their own respective gaming policies and it would be nice if they could sit round a table together with operators from the region to harmonize these efforts. I would be very happy to champion this cause.
There’s a focus on strengthening the retail offering in order to cultivate more brand trust: as a Director of one of Kenya’s most prestigious casinos, do you recognise this?
Kiragu: Land based establishments build brand trust as a result of providing auxiliary services such as dining, accommodation, transport etc. It makes a client feel appreciated, however mechanisms need to be in place to prevent such services being misused and costly. The dynamic is different for online casinos. Because they are not premise-based, issues such as security, payments, data protection and consistency of service are the key metrics.
You mentioned some of the recent uncertainty experienced by the industry in East Africa and the need for government, industry and public to work together for progression. What do you see as the key challenge and where efforts should be focused?
Kiragu: Because of the negative social impact betting has had on society it has become a primary focus of the government to stop any further program of gambling involving the youth and the vulnerable. This area in itself is a facet that is very broad and requires a policy, framework and strategies. Research will play a major role in informing the degree to which this problem has gained root and the best approaches to stem it and monitor further activities.
ICE Africa (2-3 October, Sandton Convention Centre, South Africa) provides an invaluable opportunity for operators, regulators and suppliers to meet, network, share best practice and see the very latest gaming products and services from 70+ of the industry’s leading innovators. Described by industry observers as ‘A showcase event that Africa can be proud of’ attendees will benefit from a programme of engaging content including Thought Leadership, Training, Regulation, Online vs. Retail, Integrated Resorts, Branding, Marketing, Sports and eSports.
For more information on all of the opportunities available at gaming’s only B2B pan-African event and to register, visit: www.iceafrica.za.com