Full harmonisation may be an unrealistic goal, says Susan O’Leary, CEO of Alderney eGambling, but greater collaboration between jurisdictions can only be a boon for players, operators and regulators alike.
iGAMING TIMES: Alderney licenses many operators and suppliers around the world – how is it possible to apply common standards across such a varied global footprint?
SUSAN O’LEARY: One of the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC’s) key differentiating factors is its comprehensive understanding of the entire egaming industry ecosystem. Good regulation and best practice are universal, but it’s this unique understanding which allows the AGCC to make adjustments which take into consideration the individual nuances of each jurisdiction globally, while still applying its gold standard regulatory standards.
iGT: How important is it for regulators to collaborate and share their experience?
SO’L: Extremely important and incredibly beneficial, in our experience. There are certain practices available to more established regulators that just aren’t possible without the requisite experience – for example, the AGCC takes a risk-based approach to regulation, ensuring that the level of regulation applied is proportionate and relevant. This approach requires a level of industry expertise that is only achievable through practical experience.
Through collaboration and the sharing of experiences, there’s the potential for both efficiencies and synergies, the benefits of which are felt not only by the regulator, but its licensees too. The AGCC is in regular dialogue with other regulators around the world. In India, for example, the AGCC has been working with the All India Gaming Federation to help put a self-regulatory framework in place for operators and suppliers looking to enter the market prior to the government enacting its own laws. The same can be said of Africa where the AGCC is collaborating with organisations to assist them to build their own regulatory regimes.
iGT: Is it realistic for countries to adopt common regimes when their markets can be so demographically different?
SO’L: User preferences and demographics dictate the operators’ market, and of course there are jurisdictional distinctions rooted in cultural, political, social and economic differences, but the baseline of a regulatory framework for online gambling will always be founded on common principles: protection and security of the consumer and ensuring the industry remains free of crime. Harmonisation of global regulatory standards is likely an unrealistic goal, but the potential is certainly there for more collaboration, which can lessen the regulatory burden for operators, service providers and regulators alike.
iGT: With many jurisdictions entering the realm of igaming regulation, what mistakes are lawmakers susceptible to making when launching a newly-regulated market?
SO’L: A new regime requires proper consultation and an indepth consideration of every significant party involved. So this means a thorough understanding of the operators, consumers, law makers, government bodies and peripheral service providers as well as the technology, payment services and overall processes involved in running an egaming operation.
The AGCC regularly consults with new regulators to share its 20 years’ experience regulating the industry in order to assist new governments to shape a future proof, robust framework of their own. If lawmakers do not fully understand the industry and all its facets, there is a risk that the market could be over regulated, potentially stifling growth, creativity and innovation. Over regulation is seen as a burden and can, in the worst cases, force gambling operations underground where the consumer receives no protection.
iGT: What is the multi-jurisdictional testing framework and how does it benefit consumers and firms?
SO’L: The multi-jurisdictional testing framework is an initiative introduced by the International Association of Gaming Regulators. The Alderney Gambling Control Commission is one of four regulatory jurisdictions piloting the scheme. The aim of the MJTF is to streamline the testing of games products, essentially defining a common process for the testing and certification process.
Any jurisdiction participating in the scheme will recognise the standard of testing undertaken by a partner member which will avoid unnecessary duplication. Member regulators know that the standard of testing already undertaken has been appropriate and proportionate. In this way, operators are saved from another regulatory burden when undertaking multiple licence applications and customers can be reassured by an approved set of common standards, agreed at the highest level.