iGaming Compliance 2024: Breaking Good in New Markets

As new territories continue to open up in iGaming, ambitious operators are faced with the challenge of market multiplicity – how to, simultaneously,  remain both Compliant and Competitive.

Increasingly variegated regulatory frameworks across the world make this task evermore complex.

But Isabelle Zanzer, formerly Head of Compliance for Entain (Africa), believes that focusing on local knowledge, and utilising the power of the latest technology, is the best way forward. 

We caught up with Isabelle to mine her expertise on the “Future of Compliance” in new markets. And, most importantly, ask her how to use this knowledge as a framework to grow markets, sustainably.

As both new and existing markets continue to regulate, remaining Compliant becomes an increasingly challenging and expensive process for multi-jurisdictional operators. What are the most practical ways for operators to effectively streamline this process and not waste resources?

“In my line of work, I often tell my team that streamlining this process is like playing a high stakes game of twist. Each jurisdiction has its own “colour” and its own rules that you play by. What I’ve learned, from my job over the past couple of years dealing with multiple jurisdictions, is that you have to tailor it to each jurisdiction and to each market. Often a one-size-fits-all approach is not so bad because if you really think about it, a lot of these jurisdictions have common ground and if you identify it, you already save a lot of resources and time. 

“I used to have one template with all the jurisdictions, at least the key Compliance points, and I understood that actually I can use this unified approach across multiple regions.

“I accept that nothing in life is one-size-fits-all, but in this case it could save a lot of time; and over the past couple of years it has saved me a tremendous amount of time, resources and probably my mental health as well.

“By inculcating this culture of thinking in my team, I really developed more of a centralised Compliance framework that standardised processes across different jurisdictions. 

“My saviours will always be the local experts. If I have any questions, I always encourage my team to contact a local lawyer. In my role we always had so many contacts, so it was really a blessing and we were able to capitalise on that. 

“I often told people that you cannot have an “echo” in Compliance. You have to be able to listen. I used a lot of local experts during our involvement in the gaming regulations in Kenya and in Zambia. If it wasn’t for the people on the ground, I would’ve never made it. 

“It was so incredibly helpful, I realised that once you combine a centralised framework, a good team and local experts, you don’t have to spread your resources so thin. This approach is actually very manageable, and saves a lot of money and time.”

With the emergence of exciting new technologies such as AI and Machine Learning, what impact do you think this will have on the iGaming compliance sector?

“Wherever I go I have to use AI, and I always thought the terminology that people use when referring to it was so funny because people say: “What do you think about AI?””

If you ask this question, it sounds like AI is posing an existential threat, but it’s not. AI is incredible and it really just depends on the application of it. 

“We all heard that it can, for example, take jobs – especially in our industry, in roles such as customer support because it’s easily automated and operators want to save money, et cetera. However, this poses risks because as an industry, we have been known to be insensitive to players’ real needs at times, and these are activities that really need a personal touch.

“This is where Compliance comes in. Because of the lack of a human element,  Artificial Intelligence cannot differentiate facts. If I put inaccurate data in an AI-driven Compliance program, the program itself cannot differentiate what is accurate and what is not. So, in technical terms, it’s called hallucination, which refers to a situation where the AI generates information that may not be necessarily based on reality. This can cause major problems because gambling is subject to an ever-revolving regulatory framework. So it really needs to be highly supervised.”

Some industry commentators believe that the key to better iGaming regulation is for operators to become more proactive and self-regulate. Do you agree with this? What can operators do to improve their self-regulation procedures?

“When you say self-regulation, you know what I think about? It’s the same as kids running a candy store. There’s always the temptation to sneak in and get an extra treat. But the point of the matter is you have to keep the store running smoothly. I think, as an industry, a lot of us operators are being proactive enough. However, I think some operators are like top students and others still have room for improvement. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, and self-regulation, in my opinion, is like a game: the highest score wins you customer trust and industry respect. 

“That’s the goal, to level-up; and operators really need to have a mentality of prevention rather than cure. When it comes to self-regulation, it’s important to have regular training sessions with the team and consider team building exercises. It’s most important to remember transparency is key, and I really learned from my experiences that creating the optimal environment is huge because you always have to be a Compliance specialist that’s ahead of the game. 

“The last thing I  want is to be the last off the starting line. If you’re already good because you’re using the best practices, it’s like preventing problems before they even occur.

“It’s not just about box-ticking. It’s about creating a Sustainable, reputable and player-friendly industry. In exchange you’ll have less problems with regulators if there’s an audit.

“In my opinion, self-regulation is just about being proactive and understanding what’s at stake: Reputation, Sustainability and Trust.”

There have been many newly-regulated markets over the past 24-months. Which of these markets provide the best example for a truly safe and competitive IGA regulatory framework? And what are some of the key features that other soon-to-be-regulated jurisdictions, such as Brazil, should be adopting going forward?

“In the past two years, I have been highly involved in the African markets and a little bit in Brazil.

“South America is really interesting. But for me, personally, once I dived into the Zambian and the Kenyan market, I was very surprised in a good way because the lottery and betting control boards really knew what they were doing. 

“In addition to that, the system is different because they have mobile money. I have never seen such stringent marketing regulations as I did in Kenya. I can really give them my respect, and not just because it made my life easier as a Compliance professional. It’s also because they knew what they were doing and I think when it comes to emerging markets, we can definitely learn from them because they don’t use ancient land-based casinos to help draft regulations. Instead, they look at economic trends, and they use reliable research about online betting, never being afraid to engage and adapt it.

“When I was involved in working with the Lottery and Betting Control authorities; for example in Zambia, we advanced our gaming regulations together and they were so adaptable. I love it because I really think in this ever-changing environment, flexibility will always give you the competitive edge. 

“When it comes to emerging markets, I actually think we can learn a lot from Kenya and Zambia. They allow operators to make good revenue, to go with the flow, to walk with the regulators and create a balanced regulatory environment. I really love it and I can’t wait to see where the market will go.”

Editor’s Note:

After catching up with Isabelle Zanzer, it’s clear to see that there are some simple solutions available for multi-jurisdictional operators who are attempting to grow their customer base whilst remaining compliant. 

Isabelle presents a winning Compliance formula that can, quite possibly, be used as a template for success across multiple regions, especially in Africa.

But it’s also essential to respect the influence of local market knowledge to keep you ahead of the curve.  

This–coupled with the exciting new tech products driven by AI–means that delivering top service at-scale is more possible than ever, and we look forward to seeing more companies adopt this strategy, growing markets while embracing Compliance and customer-centric sustainability.

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