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The small nation of Malta in the Mediterranean was early in legalizing gambling and was also the first country in the EU to start regulating online gambling. Over the years, Malta has therefore grown to become one of the largest jurisdictions for online gambling and today there are hundreds of players in Malta who are targeting the gambling market. Many online casinos that claim to be Swedish or German are in fact based in Malta. In addition to gaming, Malta is perhaps the most progressive nation in the world when it comes to DLT, crypto, and fintech that all find their way to inhabit the island, and here we talked with Eman Pulis, one of the key players in the field.
Eman Pulis, Founder and CEO of Of SiGMA Group, the leading gaming and tech showcase in Malta – SiGMA, AIBC Summit, Med-Tech World, sat down with us today to talk about his life journey and how he has managed to build one of the world’s most prominent conferences in its genre, plans for the future, his thoughts on blockchain and what can we expect during and post-Covid era.
Judy: Eman, thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to sit down with us today for an exclusive interview.
Eman Pulis: It is a pleasure, thank you for having me.
Eman Pulis, an Event Organizer
1. Judy: To start off Eman, could you please tell our readers a little bit more about yourself, your background, and how did you start as an event organizer?
Eman Pulis: I’ve been involved in event organization since my student days at the University of Malta, where I organized large-scale events for the student community whilst reading for a degree in Education, and for a master in Innovation and Creativity. As I grew more experienced it became clear that there was an opportunity within the gaming industry in Malta to bring companies and individuals within this growing sector together to network, exhibit, and do business – I haven’t looked back since.
2. Judy: Once you were a national athlete, do you think that sport helped you and prepared you for what you are doing today?
Eman Pulis: The level of discipline and stamina required for competitive sports has certainly helped me maintain focus and motivation in my work life.
3. Judy: I really love how you try to connect people and build a community by creating different groups where people can engage and share their visions and missions. Unfortunately, a lot of people want to tear down buildings, not help others to try to either build up theirs or just build bigger buildings together. What was the marketing idea behind building a brand story which you did with SiGMA and forming a community that everyone can genuinely feel welcome in?
Eman Pulis: Our aim is to shine a spotlight on the key figures shaping the gaming and tech landscape, providing a solid platform for networking, discussion and business to take place. When the industry does well, we do well – and we’re excited to be a part of its success. This was one of the reasons why, through our charitable arm SiGMA Foundation, we decided to launch SiGMA College. We endeavor to bring more than just good business to the locations we operate in. From Africa to Asia to Europe and the Americas, we’re making good on our commitment to enhancing the space we work in.
The SiGMA College is an accredited and licensed venture open to everyone and offers a full portfolio of interactive eLearning courses. Key topics will leverage industry experts to build a number of courses highlighting opportunities in the gaming, blockchain, and emerging tech sector.
SiGMA’s Foundation & Business Model
4. Judy: Tell us a bit more about your business model, concept, and culture.
Eman Pulis: The first event happened in 2014. It was a definite leap of faith, but our hard work paid off and the industry was intrigued enough to come back for more. Since then we’ve cultivated a reputation for quality – with the show practically doubling in size and scope every year.
This year we launched our rebranded vision – taking the company from its roots as a local show to an international enterprise. 2021 is an important year for us, with our first shows to be held outside of Malta launching in Dubai this May. We also announced a number of events due to take place across Asia, the Americas, and Africa in 2022.
We’ve also invested heavily in our media, growing the team internationally, and launching our vibrant news site in 10 key languages. Through our interactive news and video portal, we aim to bring up-to-the-minute news, in-depth analysis, game reviews, and expert-led thought leadership to a global community of industry followers.
5. Judy: What does SIGMA stand for and how did you come to the conclusion that there was a need for another online gaming conference at that point in time?
Eman Pulis: SiGMA stands for the Summit of iGaming in Malta. There was a growing need at the time for a networking expo like SiGMA – and we felt confident we could fill that gap.
6. Judy: Can you tell us why you think that Malta is an attractive place for gambling, DLT or fintech companies to set up their business?
Eman Pulis: We’re a very business-friendly country and have a lot of government initiatives set up to help support companies looking to put down roots here. Malta is also easy to integrate into; both on a personal and a professional level. As an English-speaking island, where hospitality is a key part of our culture, it’s very easy to live and work here. The great weather, rich history, and beautiful beaches help too.
7. Judy: Today SIGMA consists of four different shows. SiGMA Europe, SiGMA Africa, SiGMA Asia, and SiGMA Americas, are there any major differences between the setup or attendees to these shows?
Eman Pulis: All our events are carefully designed with the location in mind. We work hard to create an agenda that reflects the challenges and initiatives particular to each market. Our standards however remain the same: dedicated to maintaining the high level of quality we’ve become known for. We also attract a global crowd – counting delegates from over 80 countries amongst our guests. The recent addition of additional languages to our website enabled us to live stream SiGMA Americas Digital in 3 languages; Spanish, Portuguese, and English.
AIBC Dubai Event & Possible Opportunities
8. Judy: Can you tell us more about the upcoming AIBC Dubai event that is planned to take place very soon? Does the conference have specific aims and objectives and could you give us two reasons why we should mark these days in our agenda?
Eman Pulis: Dubai has come out on top as one of the most open travel destinations this year. This, coupled with a growing reputation as a financial and tech hub for the emerging digital world – including having been amongst the first to champion blockchain technology, has allowed the emirate to attract interest from businesses and entrepreneurs focussed on exploring new niches in innovation and economic diversification.
This makes it the ideal launchpad for our first events outside of Malta: AIBC UAE – Dubai and AGS Dubai, which will be held on the 25-26th May at the InterContinental Dubai – Festival City. AIBC summit aims to bring together key brands and individuals from the converging sectors of AI, blockchain, Big Data, and Quantum Tech, while AGS is dedicated to a digital marketing event for affiliates, SEO gurus, and content marketers.
Digital Events in Post-COVID Era
9. Judy: For real-world events, there are several safety measures that should be considered, given that we are still in the Covid pandemic and unfortunately the vaccine rollout isn’t moving the way it should, especially here in Europe. What are your plans and opinions here?
Eman Pulis: We take the health of our attendees and staff very seriously and are taking all necessary precautions. All our events will adhere to official government requirements, following strict standards of cleanliness – from social distancing to contactless technology, and increased cleaning routines.
We have also seized the opportunity to expand our digital initiatives, launching several virtual well-received conferences online, including our monthly global Roadshow.
10. Judy: Let’s talk a little bit about what brought your interest in the blockchain and crypto domain and what do you think about NFT, do you see a connection between all of these?
Eman Pulis: We launched our AIBC brand in 2018, where our first emerging tech show served as a launchpad for Malta’s inspired DLT regulation and as a platform for early conversations on crypto and AI ethics.
For our Dubai event, we’re just as excited as we were 4 years ago, with names like Tone Vays, Scott Stornetta, Roger Ver, Justin Sun, Dr. Marwan Alzarouni, Steve Chao, Michael Terpin, Gordon Einstein, Anna Melton, and Jorge Sebastiao leading the charge for a compelling series of debates and keynotes on topics covering regulation and compliance, AI innovations, and emerging trends such as NFTs.0138
Eman Pulis on Cryptocurrency & Blockchain
11. Judy: Cryptocurrency and blockchain are seemingly everywhere. Are they actually worth the investment or are they just hype?
Eman Pulis: A great question – and one I’m sure some of our panelists will be addressing this May.
12. Judy: Let’s talk a little bit about what it takes from you and your team to manage to bring together such great minds from all around the world under one roof so effortlessly?
Eman Pulis: Apart from being tuned in to the industry and up-to-date with what’s going on, we have a large team of 60 working on our events throughout the year, consistently fine-tuning the details to ensure that everything goes smoothly and is up to standard.
13.. Judy: Do you think we will see more or less digital events post-Covid era?
Eman Pulis: The industry has definitely been craving in-person events. While our virtual events have been successful, there’s nothing like the buzz of a packed expo floor or the pleasure of spending the evening networking over a plate of good food. We believe that the virtual world has a role to play, however, which is why moving forward, all our events will run in tandem with virtual platforms – offering our delegates a more holistic experience.
14. Judy: Any final words that you would like to give to our readers?
Eman Pulis: We are looking forward to meeting you, so don’t hesitate to reach out to any of the SiGMA team to see how you can be a part of our next event.
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