iGaming North America: How to Overcome the Weakest Link and Protect Yourself in New Markets

With so many new and exciting opportunities for growth emerging across the globe, international operators are keen to stamp their mark in new territories as soon as possible. 

And North America, specifically the USA and Canada, remains the richest prize.

Yet how do you manage the risks associated with cyber security and varying game certifications in these sophisticated, complex, digital societies? It’s  an ongoing challenge that must be faced head-on to ensure sustainable growth.

We asked Shaun McCallaghan, CEO of leading iGaming certification company eCOGRA, to give us his take on this most pressing and challenging issue. How, we posited, can expansion in the US and Canada, be done at speed, but with minimal risk?

Cyber attacks have risen steeply, especially since the Covid19 pandemic. Do you think the iGaming industry has strong enough digital defenses? And what can be done to improve this?

“Recently the industry has seen attacks of varying severity, which can be costly for operators to remedy and make good on. 

“Regulators in many jurisdictions are urging operators to take precautions, and some highly-regulated jurisdictions have made cyber security controls a mandatory certifiable component to the overall certification process. In 2015 eCOGRA embarked on social engineering assessments, as well as vulnerability and penetration testing, as a service. This service line has certainly exceeded expectations in terms of growth, and we expect the need for this offering to increase as businesses turn to independent third parties to up the level of security they have in place.

“Humans tend to be the weakest link in information security and hackers are increasingly targeting employees to obtain sensitive information to allow them to access business resources. Fortunately, we have an expert in-house team of ethical hackers and cyber security specialists and so we have been well positioned to assist our customers in these areas and also offer the necessary support. Our clients go beyond just ticking the compliance box. They expect a robust cybersecurity test to be conducted.  The industry is certainly moving in the right direction.  

“Continuous improvement is the cornerstone of success, one can always do more.”

What are some of the biggest challenges related to game certification in new markets? How can a company like ECOGRA help with this?

“Rather than viewing new markets as challenges, we see opportunities in using our multijurisdictional approach to game assessments as a means to ensure that our clients are quicker to market and save on certification fees. 

“New markets can be daunting to clients who may not be familiar with the nuances of a particular jurisdiction’s requirements. However at eCOGRA we continuously monitor and update our testing and certification methodologies for changes to certifiable requirements throughout the global jurisdictions in which we hold approvals.

“eCOGRA has tested–and certified–thousands of games for online gambling jurisdictions across the globe. Our comprehensive approach includes testing performance, compatibility, integration and security – to ensure the game mechanics and features operate as stipulated by certifiable technical standards, and as described to players.”

As operators in new and emerging markets continue to grow, how can they ensure that their standards are still as high as the leading markets in the world? What are the opportunities for self-regulation?

“Robust system and software testing are fundamental requirements for gambling operators and their suppliers. The attestation provides independent assurance over key objectives such as preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way and protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling. Best practice guidelines are contained in our eGAP requirements, prepared by international auditing firms and other professional organisations.

“eCOGRA maintains a quality management system focused on continuous improvement to ensure assessment approaches continue to advance with ever-changing technologies and business risks that our clients are faced with. Self-regulation is an initial step to assist operators and software developers in preparation for regulated markets of which there are still many to come. The eCOGRA brand is an internationally renowned symbol of trust.”

We’ve seen a lot of new states in the US opening up and regulating iGaming. Which states are you most excited about and why?

“As a professional independent testing laboratory approved in a number of iGaming states, we get excited about being part of the evolution of the online gambling and betting industry in the US. To us it is reminiscent of the early days of regulation in the European market, which we are proud to have grown our business through. We treat all states as equal, and we do not favour one above the other.

“Our approach to testing, inspection and certification is assessed on an annual basis against various ISO standards by National Accreditation Bodies and was put through rigorous assessment by the states where we currently have approval.”

Why is it so important for iGaming content providers to have a strong relationship with testing companies like eCOGRA? What’s the benefit of having eCOGRA as a lifetime partner?

“eCOGRA has a track record of high-quality certification services dedicated to online gambling activities for over 20-years. We work with some of the most prominent businesses in the industry. Customers who employ our services benefit from our client-centric service delivery and exceptional quality. All customers are treated as equal and receive the same high standards of service. This doesn’t negate our endeavour to ensure a competitive pricing model, notwithstanding the fact that the resources employed by eCOGRA are typically more highly qualified than our competitors.”

Editor’s Note:

Shaun clearly believes that although there are many multijurisdictional opportunities present across the USA and Canada, it’s still essential that operators streamline the traditionally resource-demanding process of certification and cyber security in order to build, if not guarantee, growth well into the future. 

It’s important to identify–and overcome–the so-called “Weakest Link” in the digital battleground, regretfully, but invariably, the human chain.

Robust systems and constant software testing are key to deterring and combatting quotidian cyber attacks or opportunism.

Thus, building strong relationships with companies such eCOGRA could be a cornerstone of building effective and sustainable market penetration.

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