Compliance and responsible gambling initiatives continue to be a key focus for the global iGaming sector in 2019
SiGMA looks at some of the issues and invites Abby Cosgrave from SafeComply to share her expert insights.
Keeping up with the constantly changing regulatory environment, monitoring affiliate activities, advertising in different markets, and data protection are just some of the ongoing challenges for iGaming companies when it comes to compliance in business operations. Perhaps one of the most interesting areas for 2019 will be how the inclusion of blockchain and cryptocurrencies into the iGaming industry will affect compliance for banking, payment processing, credit cards and digital wallets.
Compliance departments for iGaming and gambling operators have without doubt matured over the past few years with an increasing amount of new regulations being put forward by the vast array of regulatory bodies. It’s a massive understatement to say that comprehending the regulated and deregulated markets of iGaming and their complexity is no easy feat. It’s become increasingly important for operators to organise training and workshops for compliance teams regarding everything from gambling licensing and legislation to advertising, privacy and data protection.
With so many changes and updates in the area of compliance, 2019 will see iGaming companies around the world looking to reduce their regulatory risks and legal fees by providing upper management and stakeholders with in-depth insights, expert analysis, ongoing research and market data about both the past issues and current trends for iGaming compliance.
To navigate this minefield it’s clear that iGaming companies need experienced expert advice and guidance. A leader in this area is Abby R Cosgrave, CEO & founder of the SafeComply Group. We asked Abby to give us her expert insight on compliance in iGaming for 2019:
“The entry of a number of operators into the Swedish regulated market at the start of 2019 has again illustrated the difficulties faced by operators when moving from a dotcom model to local regulation. Some operators initially struggled with connection to the national self-exclusion register and there has been a lot of confusion regarding the requirements around bonusing and marketing in “moderation”. The Swedish Gambling Authority has already made noises regarding license removal or a substantial fine should operators fail to interpret these requirements in line with the Gaming Authority’s broad interpretation. When moving into newly regulated markets from a dotcom model, operators sometimes fail to accept the underlying principles behind the new regulation, appropriately resource, educate or apply the requirements in a timely fashion and instead learn slowly from enforcement actions, as has been seen in Great Britain.
“The Swedish Gambling Authority are offering an anonymous “tip us” page for reports of non-compliance and with this they have clearly opened the door for easy reporting of non-compliance. With this in mind, we can expect to see a reactive regulator going forwards in 2019 with further enforcement actions and fines as they receive reports of various actions of operators.
“I often say that the issue with gambling operators is their failure to properly self-regulate or implement best practices. Until enforcement on a particular issue hits, the requirement can often be treated like a myth and the ‘watch and see if everyone else does it’ approach to compliance often means that no one implements requirements in line with the true intention of the law. Admittedly, some operators are better than others at this, but there is a reluctance to be seen as “best in class” in relation to responsible customer care or compliance and the main drive to provide a quick and easy gambling experience for commercial benefit remains. In Sweden we have a recent attempt by trade bodies to self-regulate in regard to the marketing aspect of the regulation but it is unlikely to be sufficient to prevent more restrictive regulations and ongoing enforcement. It would be sad to see Sweden, after years of hard lobbying to gain liberalised regulation, become an increasingly restrictive and reactive territory as a direct result of the commercial drive of operators to take and maintain market share in the newly regulated environment.
“The main point to take away from the enforcements in Great Britain, of which we can expect to see more this year, are that the central areas of AML and Responsible Gaming (which include responsible marketing to an extent) should not be taken lightly. Given that best practice in these areas can be applied across most licences, I believe this is where compliance strategy should focus and seek to draw as many parallels as possible between regulations. Operators should continually educate and innovate in these areas.
“I expect to see advancements in the field of Regulatory Technology this year as operators seek to innovate in compliance, both themselves as well as partnering with RegTech providers to find practical solutions to compliance requirements, Compliance is certainly not the sole domain of technology. People drive compliance. Leadership drives compliance. Training drives compliance. Technology assists in being compliant. Technology will not solve compliance issues on its own and human decision- making in Anti Money Laundering and Responsible Gambling should not, in my view, be replaced. However, wherever compliance processes are in place and such processes become repetitive or a tick box exercise, technology could (and should) be used to automate and drive those processes.”