Does the industry need to talk more about regulation?
Following a spate of fines and a licence revocation for some of the biggest names in European gaming it is high time the industry adopted a more collaborative approach to regulation, according to Alde
Some of the headlines on EGR’s Daily News Snapshot have made pretty grim reading in recent weeks as news of one heavy fine followed another in the UK. If that wasn’t bad enough, we were then greeted by the announcement that one unfortunate operator had been stripped of its licence in Sweden. How did we get to this situation as an industry?
In some respects, there are positives to be taken from it, as any football manager on the end of a good thrashing will tell you. Increased punishment follows increased scrutiny, and that scrutiny is now in place because we as an industry are trying very hard to clean up our act. But for my money, it also highlights a gulf between some regulators and their partners: a gulf in communication and expectation.
When I speak to operators and suppliers, as I do at events all over the world, I’m sometimes greeted by a world-weary look when attention turns to the ‘R’ word. In recent times, however, more and more are adopting a regulatory mindset, realising that it isn’t going to go away and needs to be embraced. And it really isn’t going to go away. In fact, if anything regulation is going to become a bigger part of our working lives.
But if the providers and purveyors are doing their bit, so too should the regulator. As CEO of Alderney eGambling I work alongside the global regulator, the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC). The AGCC provides a collaborative framework, guiding licensees through the licensing process and working together to mitigate risk. Uniquely, the AGCC assigns licensees with a dedicated relationship manager and welcomes discussion and dialogue around the best way forward for the individual company.
We believe this is the user-friendly approach everyone needs to adopt. Regulation should be an open-door policy, not something that drops onto a licensee’s doormat with an ominous thud. After all, we are the experts on the subject and have the capacity and the insight to limit the ‘burden’ of regulation. I believe it is important that we use it, rather than leaving our partners to fend for themselves when following our rules.
It is about taking pragmatic and risk-based approach that, on a relationship level, prevents things going wrong or makes them easier to resolve if they do. Whilst it is easier to say ‘no’ it is so much more beneficial to find a solution. A great recent example is the multi-jurisdictional testing framework introduced by the International Association of Gaming Regulators. It is streamlining the testing process for games and establishing a common process that will save companies time and money. The UKGC’s new national strategy to reduce gambling harms is another step in the right direction too. But I think we can do more.
If all of that sounds like we have a light- touch approach to legislation, then it’s time to stop the music and turn the lights on. We are here to protect the young and the vulnerable, as well as to keep criminals out of the industry. To do that we must ensure that suppliers and operators are responsible, have integrity, and always offer consumers products that are scrupulously fair. But it is equally important to remember that we exist to help rather than to hinder those companies - and a collaborative approach will serve the interests of all parties far more than an adversarial one.