As new jurisdictions continue to open up and regulate around the globe, operators are keen to take full advantage of the growth opportunities available. However, navigating the evolving regulatory landscape is an ongoing challenge and has a serious impact on an operator’s ability to compete internationally.
We spoke with Abby Kimber, Head of Strategic Partnerships for Isle of Man and Tony Ure, Head of eGaming for Digital Isle of Man. They shared their thoughts on how a multi-jurisdictional regulator’s license can help operators in their growth strategies and furthermore, how operators can mitigate the risks that come with an increasingly fragmented regulatory market going forward.
The last 18 months have been a transitional period for the whole industry, how has the Pandemic impacted the level of license applications received and what does this indicate for the future of our sector?
Tony: “When the pandemic first hit and all conferences and exhibitions were cancelled we anticipated a reduction in our pipeline. However, it has been quite the opposite and has resulted in the busiest ever period for licence applications. With certain markets and products not available to operators we have seen increased diversification in the sector. The pandemic closed many retail operations such as casinos, betting shops and lottery retail POS, which highlighted to operators that they need an online product and this will also drive future online gaming offerings. The ability for businesses to continue to operate from the Isle of Man during work from home lockdowns has emphasised the value of the stable infrastructure on the Island and has resulted in companies wanting to increase their presence here.”
Abby: “We adjusted our approach to ensure that we reached our target markets and that businesses were aware of the Isle of Man’s offering, and the rich ecosystem that we have on the Island. Support for eGaming businesses is second to none and everything you need to set up, run and grow an eGaming business is in close proximity. That coupled with the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission’s excellent reputation and strong track record in player protection enables operators to grow their proposition with an emphasis on ESG and sustainability, which are both key focus areas for businesses moving forward.”
Some industry commentators argue that continued regulatory fragmentation across Europe means that multi-jurisdictional licenses no longer hold as much value as they traditionally have. What are your thoughts on this and do you think that the value proposition of an Isle of Man license has changed in recent years?
T: “I think the sector has moved more towards multiple licenses in jurisdictions which serve different markets and products. With most of Europe being locally licensed we have seen many operators turn to an Isle of Man licence to target other continents globally. The recent issues seen with some of our competitors has shown Isle of Man’s high international standards to be a USP that operators are now keen to have to enable them to enter new markets, resulting in an increased value proposition for the Isle of Man licence.”
A: “I also think it is important to engage with our licensees to understand their needs and to continuously adapt our value proposition to ensure that we are always creating value. The beauty of a small (but mighty!) jurisdiction is open and easy access to Government and the ability for businesses to have a close working relationship with us. Businesses on the Isle of Man are able to pick up the phone to their contacts within Government and this allows for continuous feedback and helps shape the strategic direction for the sector.”
Recent quotes in the media have touted the Isle of Man as ‘the world’s most attractive base for crypto companies’. Why has this area been such a key focus and how do you see Blockchain technology benefitting the iGaming industry going forward?
A: “As for any sector, the support of Government is a key driver for growth and success and in addition to that we have an ecosystem that understands blockchain, crypto and emerging technologies and gets behind them, ensuring that they can support their business growth. The Isle of Man aims to be a centre of innovation for emerging technologies and is fully supportive of our businesses here that want to explore innovative technologies and welcomes new businesses with a tech focus. Our blockchain initiative has been very successful and our collaborative ethos on Island along with Government-run education and networking opportunities has resulted in some very interesting collaborations. We will continue to provide opportunities that will beneficial to the eGaming sector. We will be running an innovation challenge this year, we are moving into phase 2 of our blockchain strategy and have established a strong team to focus on esports.”
How can the Isle of Man help their licensees to develop a more sustainable business model?
A: “ESG is such a key area for businesses and one that we’ll see an increased focus on moving forward. The Isle of Man itself is designated as an UNESCO Biosphere and is the only nation to have that status in the world currently and includes the whole Island and our territorial seas. The Island has a number of areas where businesses can get involved and adopt sustainability through our partnership schemes and advice and support is available for businesses who want to build a sustainable business model. CSR is an important area and is close to the heart of our ecosystem, and our business community collaborates to support initiatives both locally and internationally. From a governance perspective, the Isle of Man holds itself to the highest international standards and has a well-respected regulator. It’s a dynamic process and having a Government and ecosystem that are invested in sustainability and can support your journey is really beneficial.”
Isle of Man has many Africa based operators as licensees. Are emerging markets a key focus area and how can this be used to help operators successfully enter new, growing jurisdictions?
T: “Emerging markets are a focus for the sector as operators, suppliers, banks and PSP’s want to know that they are dealing with companies they can trust. Being licensed by a highly experienced regulator such as the Isle of Man with a reputation for integrity and compliance provides comfort to both suppliers and players that their funds and products have passed the required due diligence and are protected.”
After speaking with Abby and Tony, it’s clear that the value of a multi-jurisdictional license such as the Isle of Man’s stretches far beyond the realms of an increasingly fragmented Europe.
Holding an internationally renowned gaming license will allow operators the freedom to explore new emerging markets, achieving safe and sustainable growth. This coupled with the regulator’s openness to innovation and emerging tech such as Blockchain, can really help to create an exciting environment for operators to thrive in.