Simon Westbury, Director of International Development at Digitain, assesses the evolving regulatory landscape and defines a path forward for workable white-label arrangements.
iGAMING TIMES: Is there still a future for white-label arrangements in the current regulatory environment?
SIMON WESTBURY: It goes without saying that there is a place for white-label arrangements across the current regulatory environment. The current debate that has been raging around white-labels, particularly in the UK, does not necessitate changes to the regulatory framework as such, Instead, it is simply calling for a renewed focus on the implementation of the existing regulatory requirements. Which can only be a good and responsible move.
iGT: Why do you believe this to be the case?
SW: White-label arrangements have been a constant in the gaming industry, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. A white-label solution frees the partner up to focus on marketing their business effectively to potential customers. Whilst harnessing the expertise of suppliers’ knowledge, technical excellence and experience of products. In short, it allows both parties to focus on what they are good at and empowers both parties to deliver an exciting solution to the end customer.
iGT: What are the foremost strengths of Digitain’s white-label arrangement?
SW: iGaming is a fast-paced industry, where the best business ideas and innovation are constantly illuminating the next opportunities. As the industry has grown, though, the costs of setting up businesses have ramped in tandem, stifling some innovation and thought leadership around product development. As a result, a one-size-fits-all approach seems to have appeared. Digitain’s white label solution, however, is an enabler of start-ups and established companies that may not have the time or resources to acquire their own licence, whilst also supporting every different aspect of their business. Digitain offers a full range of products, ranging from our own powerhouse sportsbook, driven in-house by over 450 traders, alongside more than 3000 casino games. Equally importantly, having garnered over 15 years of experience in the industry, we allow our partners to focus on developing their business by refining their marketing plan, safe in the knowledge that they’re being powered by an industry heavyweight who will ensure they’re equipped with the tools they need to succeed.
iGT: To what extent do you think the current regulatory environment will affect white-label arrangements?
SW: Personally, I believe there’s a bigger issue around regulation that goes far deeper than the present white-label arrangements. As I mentioned, I think we have seen a resharpening of the regulatory pencil, especially in the UK, around the implementation of white-label provisions. However, I am prepared to go on the record here, as I truly believe that regulators and the industry need to reset the conversation between the two sides. I agree with Kenny Alexander’s comments around the danger of politicising regulation and I think that if the regulation too politically motivated, then it will take us to a dangerous place. Moreover, I think the recent report published by the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) provides a telling example of this. The report was published with neither consultation of Gambling Minister, Rebecca Power, nor representation from the Gambling Commission. At this point, we are in a position where politicians who have limited experience in igaming are trying to enforce their views without careful consultation, or the opinions of experts. In any domain of discourse, this is both unhealthy and foolish.
iGT: Is too much regulation in this regard a bad thing? Can it prevent innovation and growth?
SW: I think if regulation is politicised and lead by politicians then, yes, it’s undoubtedly a bad thing. In the US, we have seen more involvement from industry peers in the setting of the legislation as it rolls out state-by-state – and although the regulation maybe not be viewed as perfect, it is far from horrendous. If things continue under more political lights, though, we will end up embroiled in a debate that leads down a dark tunnel, where a full understanding of how new technologies such as AI can help with, say, fraud prevention or protecting underaged players is never properly grasped. The risk, of course, is that draconian bans are implemented on technologies that could actually aid responsible gaming. However, that is not to absolve the industry of any blame. Wise, robust regulation is the be welcomed across the industry. Ultimately, I believe the gaming sector needs to do two things. Firstly, remember we are part of the entertainment industry. At times, the sector is too driven by the balance sheet rather than focusing on delivering an entertaining product to the end customer. It goes without saying that a fully engaged end user who is entertained will have a longer lifetime value than a player who is simply seen as an inanimate number on the balance sheet. Secondly, we need to come in from the cold with the regulator and fully engage, wiping the slate clean to show what we can do, not to mention how fresh technologies can create enhanced regulatory frameworks that benefit the politicians, regulators, gaming operators and suppliers, and most importantly the customer. Keeping them safe but also providing entertainment is the key. The recent launch in early November of the Betting and Gaming Council represents a positive step but as an industry we need to be heard. Otherwise, I fear regulation will further choke the innovation and growth of our industry, leading to a rise in operators who work outside of regulatory influence in black markets. And driving a resurgence in black-market sites is the last thing any of us want.