While this did only confirm what we essentially already knew it doesn’t change the fact that it spells trouble for offshore jurisdictions which are currently home to UK-facing operators. These jurisdictions have received positive assurances from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport with regards to their position plus some operators such as 32Red, Betfair, William Hill and Coral are among those that are very unlikely to leave their offshore locations for the foreseeable future.
However, it’s hard to see how the offshore jurisdictions will be able to maintain their current position with the industry once the incentives for operators to be there no longer exist. If they wish to remain in iGaming these jurisdictions will have to look for other ways in which they can succeed in this area.
One offshore jurisdiction which appears to have such a plan firmly in place is the Isle of Man (IOM). Ray Davies is eGaming development manager for the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission and he explains that the Commission is confident of retaining iGaming business in a new regulatory system, He says: “The Isle of Man will still have a very good story to tell. Basing in the Isle of Man will still have a benefit for those companies seeking to adopt a UK license, in terms of reduced compliance effort and possibly even fees.”
But there will be much more to it than that with offshore jurisdictions not only having to compete against each other but against mainland UK again. In order to do so Davies admits that it’s going to be a case of adapting as quickly as possible to a fast paced industry.
“As the eGaming industry continues to grow and mature, the Isle of Man will continue to seek ways in which to make our licenses fit the operators’ needs too – from those operating regionally to those who have a global presence.”
These ways will come in numerous forms with a couple of them already currently on display. One of which is the new network service which was launched by the IOM Commission. This is a service which has already attracted a large number of well known operators who are already operating successfully.
Davies explains: “Our new Network Service Licence gives Isle of Man based companies the opportunity to make their platform available to business customers around the world”.
“ONEworks became the first company to gain the licence at the end of last year, and its creation demonstrates how we can keep pace with the dynamism of the eGaming industry without making licensing too complicated. It’s another step forward in making access for our companies to the world’s markets even greater and easier.”
Another way that is becoming an increasingly important part of iGaming is testing. As established companies can ill afford to launch products that are soon found to be faulty the need to try them out in a contained environment is imperative.
In days past it was conceivable to push products live in a soft way and fix bugs they go. However the new era of professionalism means that not only do users expect more but so do the creators themselves.
This is an area that the Isle of Man appears well positioned to exploit. The island is currently home to a large number of testing houses. In these houses the latest and greatest live dealer and gaming software is put through its paces.
As in the more general aspect of acting as an iGaming jurisdiction, providing successful testing facilities will come down to being able to keep up with the industry. Davies explains: “Because of the pace of development – particularly software development – we rely on the test houses to stay abreast of the latest innovations and to develop satisfactory tests to make sure that the games are still fair.”
The testing measures described by Davies are extremely rigorous. Which they must be in order to be regarded as an international hub for iGaming. But despite what appears to be a very high quality testing set up, Davies believes that the IOM have no particular advantage in this area.
“Most jurisdictions that do publish standards say pretty much the same thing,” he says.
“As an example, our regulator commissioned a test house a few years ago to appraise the gap between another jurisdiction’s requirements and our own. They concluded that while the regulations vary dramatically in tone, they are essentially compatible with a few tweaks.”
As well as the aspects listed above there are obviously many more benefits for iGaming companies to place themselves on the Isle of Man. Not least the flexibility offered by their global license which allows companies to retain this and then gain other licenses for specific markets.
Whatever the IOM Gambling Supervision Committee has been doing in recent years it appears to have been working. The jurisdiction is home to iGaming giants such as Microgaming, Pokerstars, Paddy Power, SBO Bet and many more. With this amount of iGaming talent on the island there is an incredible amount of new technology created. So are there any products or companies that have particularly stood out?
He says: “Aside from the dominant players such as Pokerstars, SBO Bet and Paddy Power I would say that Mahjong Logic’s offering is the most exciting and the offerings from Microgaming and Edict are first class.”