The iGaming industry has evolved so much over the past 20 years, starting off as a self-regulated, wild wild west and maturing into a highly regulated landscape. With so many rules to follow in so many independently regulated jurisdictions, iGaming operators are often left scratching their heads trying to figure out how to remain compliant, especially those who hold multiple licenses in multiple jurisdictions.
This is exactly where SMP eGaming’s Compliance365 training program comes into play, a company that specializes in navigating the complicated waters of compliance and for iGaming operators throughout the U.K. and Europe.
“[Compliance 365] is an ongoing compliance program that we’ve been working with a large number of operators on, to really help them not only understand what is required under the various jurisdictions with which they may hold a license, but also to help shape their policies and procedures around that”, said Matthew Robins, SMP’s Head of Regulatory Compliance, with over 20 years of experience in this sector.
The idea of the program is not only to assist management in putting internal compliance practices into place, but to also ensure these practices continue to thrive year after year.
“We have a subscription model where for a monthly fee we work with all the different operators and perform what we call ‘Health Checks’”, explained Robins.
“We work with them to make sure that on key risk areas such as anti-money laundering and problem gambling that not only do the policies match what is required by the various regulators, be it the MGA or the U.K., but also what they are actually doing on the ground on a day to day basis is actually matching their procedures and in good health”, he added.
Remaining compliant is critical to the success and growth of an online gambling business, hence the topic’s popularity in trade publications and at iGaming conferences. Robins, who spent ten years with The Stars Group as their Director of Compliance, is fully aware of the challenges organizations face with integrating compliance into their culture, especially those that have been around since the beginning.
“I think probably historically, going back ten plus years, compliance wasn’t really seen as a ‘must have’ kind of function, it was almost seen as a necessary sort of evil in some areas, obviously it costs, there’s a cost to compliance”, he explained.
“I think a lot of operators are starting to embrace it a lot more, but for some more mature businesses its quite a culture change”, Robins confirmed.
“It takes time to understand the different nuances across different regulations, but also trying to understand where the regulators are coming from and that’s where I think our company in particular has got a wealth of expertise and knowledge around that”, he added.
Robins emphasized the importance of working closely with regulators and advised operators to demonstrate that they understand what is required while also having the tools in place to meet requirements.
“No operator doesn’t want to comply, its just all the different requirements are quite onerous and that includes from a technical perspective to building a new back office, to make sure all the functionalities are working, that all your staff are trained and aware, what needs to be done, its quite a large operation”, explained Robins.
“It needs to be right across the organization and I think that’s why the challenges have been there for a large number of years. Its very difficult to maintain that on an ongoing basis and monitor it, especially if you have a high volume, a high turnover business”, he said.
We all know compliance costs money and requires manpower to implement and sustain, but there certainly is a silver lining. Operators who abide by the rules of their regulators and remain compliant will enjoy greater returns in the future.
“I think its all about adding value. I think not only does [remaining compliant] improve the reputation of the company, it enhances it with the regulators and all your suppliers, third party partners, you become more of the ‘go-to’, people want to come to you, the customers will value and trust you more and understand that you’re a well-run organization”, advised Robins.
“I think its really embracing compliance these days and making the culture more compliance aware, which has been the challenge over the past. I think having that correct tone from the top and a ‘can-do’ approach to how things can still thrive in a business, yet in a very compliant fashion, is probably the way that people are starting to look at this”, he said.
“So it will hopefully dispel the fact that it was a necessary evil years ago and just become part of doing business, but actually embed it and embrace it throughout the organization. I think that would really enhance the reputation of an organization then”, Robins added.