Speaking to SBC’s Managing Director Andrew McCarron, Chief Executive of SNAITECH Fabio Schiavolin has explained some of the influences behind his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Delivering his keynote speech on day one of Betting on Sports Europe – Digital 2020, Schiavolin touched on a number of topics ranging from his ascent through the betting industry (which involved a small break to set up a food and beverage venture), to the challenges of overcoming COVID and future-proofing operations.

He said: “My experience with SNAITECH has helped me every day during this ongoing crisis. With the situation that we’re in now, we have to stay cool to avoid being nervous. We were among the first to close our shops, and the last to reopen in June – but judging from the current trends in infections, we’re going to experience another lockdown. It’s a tough job for our industry, and it’s been tough to manage.

“In Italy, we have all different regions and each one goes in its own direction. So we must make sure that we’re flexible in our approach, and at the same time, we must be super quick with our responses. After a complete stop of sporting activity, which lasted almost 100 days, we finally managed to report in September that GGR was improving. It was already up by 30%, and so we’re working to maintain this upward trend until the end of the year.”

Schiavolin, who was inducted into the Sports Betting Hall of Fame two years ago, continued: “During lockdown, we obviously felt the impact from a lack of sporting events and the changes to the schedules. If you remember, we were betting on table tennis and Belarussian football. Our customers dropped by 60%, but by the end of June when major European championships started again, we saw an immediate response from our customers.

“This fast-changing scenario is forcing the migration of customers from retail to online. We are a little bit behind in comparison to other European countries. So in the recovery, there was an increase of approximately 30%, which was accelerating a process which was already underway.”

Discussion soon turned to how – from a management perspective – companies can effectively respond to such unprecedented events. Something that is key for Schiavolin is resilience and adaptability to changing economic and regulatory situations.

He said: “Resiliency is one particular aspect which we, as Italians, learn as little kids. We’re in a beautiful country with lots of amazing things but it has an economic situation that is constantly changing. This is also what is happening in our industry now. We recently had a Prime Ministerial decree, who is now using COVID measures – which will be valid until the middle of November to limit the gaming hours from 8am to 8pm.

“The measures are also allowing the regional authorities to apply for certain measures, which is happening in Lombardy. We have to face a situation which we are called to make quick decisions and to react to the changing situation very quickly to what is happening at that time. We must also manage a very long value chain.”

SNAITECH’s Fabio Schiavolin on the future of Italian gambling market