iGaming Regulation: Managing European Growth, with Julian Borg-Barthet of Pretty Technical
We spoke with Julian Borg-Barthet, Director of Business Development at Pretty Technical to hear his thoughts on the current situation in Europe and what aspiring multijurisdictional operators can do to ensure European growth online despite the increasing introduction of limiting regulation.
As market jurisdictions become increasingly disparate in regard to their regulatory requirements, what data compliance challenges does that create for operators and how can these risks be mitigated?
“Regulatory compliance in regard to reporting requirements differ from market to market for a number of reasons, and the majority of the conditions imposed are how they’re digested by the regulator. Ignoring the typical financial reports and miscellaneous risk assessments, player information, etc. that are meant to be filed on a regular basis, I wouldn’t say that I’m in a position to be familiar with all of them, as they stretch from AML to finance, marketing, etc. and this can be a moving target leaving you at the whim of the regulator at the best of times.
“I can only comment on the markets that have implemented a Data Vault requirement, which is where our current expertise is focused. I have never vilified a regulator for doing things properly in a regimented fashion, as I tend to like black and white without surprises, and when a regulator is good enough to impose a complete standard on the format, process, and frequency as to which they want the type of reporting that we deal with, it certainly makes me sleep better at night.
“Not to say that we as a company don’t deal with regulatory reporting, as we’re already working with some operators in the US and Europe on adapting our vault processing systems to satisfy their regulatory reporting requirements even if there is no vault required to be in place. It’s a switch-on and forget it service that nobody knows they need until they have it.
“Reminds me of a story from a Swedish licensee that had to send out bi-yearly reports that would have been easy if their PAMS was able to push these reports in the first place. He ended up spending 2 days of his holiday in a hotel room collating the information remotely instead of being by the pool with his family.”
Many industry commentators believe that increased transparency and cooperation between regulators and operators is the key to creating a more competitive market. How can products like DominoVault help contribute to this initiative?
“Again, it’s down to setting the standards from day 1, forcing operators to communicate with the regulator on their terms, which is not a bad thing when the regulator is forced to define the parameters in a detailed way. You would think that most platforms are able to deliver on the reporting elements right out of the box.
“Luckily, some forward-thinking regulators like France and Spain helped to create a market for us that now offers ‘off the shelf’ solutions to these requirements without having to go through the lengthy process of developing an in-house solution – keeping it up and running, and making the necessary regulatory changes when they’re required.
“Talking with clients that have built it themselves, they would have rather have not had to do it if they had the choice, but sometimes the choice is commercial, as the volumes of transaction outweigh the commercial SaaS model and requires something sitting closer to home, regardless of the requirements that they need to be on bare metal in a data centre.
“We also work with Tier 1 clients that have bought the code from us to do just that but also signed support agreements with us to assist with the regulatory side of the requirements. As managing data is one thing, but managing an API defined by a regulator is an entirely different animal.”
Some of the most attractive iGaming markets emerging in Europe are Germany and the Netherlands. How do you see these markets developing going forward and how will a robust data storage solution help with this?
“Mentioning before that it all started with France and Spain, our people come from an extensive background running platforms in Spain along with running their own Safe Server. Getting it right is one thing but keeping the lights on is another. Stability is key, and if you can get someone to assure this service, a call from the regulator would be your last worry and you can concentrate on what matters most, market share.”
As regulations on data and operator governance, in general, become increasingly strict, will 3rd party solutions like the Domino Data Vault become increasingly important? What’s the benefit compared to internalising the data security process?
“Outsourcing is one of those words that either a company embraces or has a strict policy against. I can’t put words in operators mouths as – shooting myself in the foot – I’m on the fence, even though that’s what Pretty Technical’s entire business model is based on. We help gaming companies build, maintain, and adapt. I can say one thing about the vault, it’s more complex than it looks, and even the most experienced companies out there have gotten it wrong, even after being in a set market for a number of years. Scalability, robustness, and a team that wants to work with their client instead of sitting back and treating it like a dropbox service is where we have positioned ourselves.
“We’ve assisted our clients from application to launch, even assisting with the regulatory applications that pertain to the vault requirements, it’s part of the service. But it’s certainly not plug and play, and if anyone tells you otherwise, they obviously don’t know what they’re talking about, or they’re going to surprise you when the work actually starts. We’ve managed to trim out a lot of the grief when it comes to contracting and integration, but we’ll never get that 100% perfect unless we pre-design for every conceivable PAMS out on the market.”
New regulations related to data security, among others, pose a formidable challenge for the industry. However, increased transparency and gaming standards can only be a positive thing for the customers. For those operators whose main priority is the customers, the challenge will be a welcome one and with the presence of robust, innovative solutions such as the Domino Data Vault in the market, operators have everything they need to meet these challenges head-on, continuing to grow and provide an outstanding, fun but safe service for their customers, regardless of their jurisdiction.