In The Beginning: Pioneer, Impact, Legend, 30-years of Microgaming

Compared to many tech or entertainment sectors, iGaming is still a relatively young industry. Yet, as the digital online gambling industry matures so have many companies within the betting ecosphere – not Microgaming, one of the very first iGaming companies and still a stand-out leader of the vibrant industry.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the Douglas- Isle-of-Man-headquartered company, founded in 1994, has been spearheading iGaming’s progression since betting segued with the Internet.

So the milestone of Microgaming’s 30th anniversary represents a significant moment not just for the company but for the entire iGaming industry.

The development of the global iGaming market over the last three decades has not been without its challenges.

After terrific progress in Regulation, Quality of Product, and Customer Protection, all industry stakeholders are super excited to see what the next 30-years promises. And delivers.

To mark Microgaming’s auspicious three-decades at the top of the iGaming business, we caught up with key members of the company’s management team: Stephen Fisk, Chief Executive Officer; Kate Moughtin, Senior CSR and Marketing Manager; and Leon Turner, Director of Commercial Operations.

We heard their thoughts on how iGaming can build on the accomplishments of the last 30-years to create an even more Sustainable and  successful future for many more years to come.

Please accept our warm invitation to explore Microgaming’s unique, and essential, take on the future of iGaming:

In recent years, companies and governments around the world have outlined their responsibilities to pursue environmental and corporate change. But for a true difference to be made, we cannot simply rely on just one organisation or one individual to act. It should, and must, be a collaborative effort.

Since its inception in 1994, Microgaming has been blazing the trail to enact true change and instil values that not only make the iGaming industry more sustainable, but also build strong connections with the local community.

Now, as the company marks its 30th anniversary, Microgaming is shining a light on some of the ways it is having a positive impact in the markets where it operates, particularly with regards to corporate social responsibility (CSR).

The emphasis on sustainability is particularly apparent when looking at the company’s approach to people, place and the planet – three pillars that are central to Microgaming’s PlayItForward programme, which is also due to reach its 10th anniversary this year.

These values not only shape the way in which the CSR programme works with Microgaming’s partners, but also hold significant influence over the company’s wider corporate strategy. This has been particularly apparent when looking at the company’s recent campus expansion.

Earlier this year, the campus in which the Microgaming office is located was expanded, with the team now situated in Evergreen House. The move into the new premises drew upon the lessons learned from the construction of the Sixty Two office and has solidified Microgaming’s commitment to the local environment, with green thinking influencing everything from office lighting to vehicle charging points.

When the Sixty Two facility was built on Circular Road, Microgaming opted to go for the BREEAM standard – a global benchmark that shows whether a construction project has met the necessary framework to be considered a high-performing, sustainable building.

Stephen Fisk – Chief Executive Officer, Microgaming
Stephen Fisk – Chief Executive Officer, Microgaming

At the time, achieving this standard wasn’t a goal for many organisations. But for Microgaming’s CEO Stephen Fisk, this decision is a testament to Microgaming’s forward-thinking attitude and long-term vision to become an ESG leader.

He said: “It’s really interesting to see the journey that we’ve been on and how that’s helped position us as a leader within the iGaming industry.

“We would encourage all PLCs, private companies or anyone for that matter to really be as forward-thinking as possible. In this day and age, sustainability has to play a big part of that decision-making process. At Microgaming, we get a lot of questions about ESG, for example, and why sustainability is important.

“The world is trending in one way – if you’re not making those ESG and sustainability decisions today, you’re going to be in a difficult position tomorrow, not only from a sustainability angle, but from a commercial angle too.”

Sustainability has been an ethos which has formed a central part of Microgaming’s business strategy throughout the company’s history, and one which has not stilted its business operations, but rather enabled Microgaming to pursue new business opportunities.

For Leon Turner, Director of Commercial Operations, achieving gold standards of environmental sustainability has arguably been one of the greatest examples where Microgaming has not only helped promote ESG, but has also fostered a culture of innovation across Microgaming’s various commercial hubs.

To achieve this standard, Microgaming worked very closely with its commercial and technical partners to extend their capabilities to achieve a gold standard of sustainability.

Turner said: “Achieving certifications such as ISO 14001, an international standard which is a testament to the sustainability of our environmental management system (EMS), meant that we had to place new requirements on our partners to help us meet those standards so that we could receive this certification. Our local partners had to extend some of their capabilities in terms of how they behave, their reporting etc.

“This hasn’t just been the case for BREEAM, but with all the different certifications that we hold, including our ISO 27001, ISO 14001 and PCI DSS. They have all impacted our local and international partners, but I think that this has been an area where we have really been able to foster innovation locally.”

Partnerships: going above and beyond

Close collaboration with partners, both on the Isle of Man and further afield, has allowed Microgaming to bolster its platform, leading to a more elevated product offering for all its customers.
With a network including the likes of Games Global and Continent8, Microgaming has tapped into the expertise of its partners to enhance its own core offering – whether that be through the development of engaging and innovative games, or the provision of hosting and connectivity services.

Turner added: “At Microgaming, we’ve recognised that we can’t do everything ourselves. We need that support from our strong network of partners, who each have different areas of expertise. We are very fortunate that with each of these partnerships, there are years of trust and relationships that have shaped our collaboration.

“We know that we can rely on our partners to support us in our endeavours and help us map out our strategies; they are then best able to support us on our journey and also identify the opportunities that they need for themselves. It is these partnerships that help make us successful and achieve our goals.”

More than a workplace

As part of its vision to leave a long-lasting legacy, Microgaming has also made sure it has fostered a culture of diversity, inclusivity and progression within the business.

There are various factors that you must consider when looking to identify what exactly makes a ‘successful’ work culture, Microgaming has managed to create an environment that enables individuals to cultivate new skills, progress and feel valued. This has been shown by the high levels of retention within the organisation.

Microgaming has numerous staff that have completed 5+, 10+ (known as ‘legend status’), 15+ and 20+ years with the organisation. But despite their differences in tenure, they all say the same thing about working at Microgaming: they love the culture, environment and being in charge of their own destiny.

Fisk underlined that in order to create a culture where every employee feels valued, the senior management team need to be ‘open, honest and transparent’ to the way in which decisions are made.

“The way in which we cultivate a supportive work environment doesn’t change that much regardless of how competitive the gaming space is,” he continued. “But as long as you’re honest with employees, as long as you’re open and that you listen to people, I think that those are fundamental principles that will always see both individuals and the company as a whole flourish.

“Microgaming has a quite unique culture that has been nurtured from the very beginning; I don’t know if there is just one single trick to achieving that, but we have done a very good job so far.

“There has still been some degree of change over the last 30 years. When the online gaming industry was first starting out, we were one of the first to enter the space; there wasn’t too many people who had the skillset to work in online gaming. The learning curve was very steep, but for some, it presented a very exciting challenge to learn something new.

“When you entered the next phase where it was more about PLCs and not the entrepreneurs, there were more people who had the necessary skills, so attracting talent became that bit easier. Over the last 10 years or so, wellbeing has become much more central to any company. Our strategies have been tweaked slightly over the last 30 years to adapt to the different requirements of each generation.”

Looking to the future with PlayItForward

Over the course of the last 10 years, the PlayItForward programme has played a central role in the company’s engagement with the local community. Whether it be through supporting local sports organisations or, working alongside environmental charities, PlayItForward can be considered to be a true symbol of Microgaming’s commitment to placing ESG at the centre of its day-to-day operations. The programme has undergone some changes since it was first established. The idea for PlayItForward stemmed from the values promoted by the Health & Care Trust, which consisted of independent doctors from across the Isle of Man who supported the community in an impartial manner. Dissolved in 2020, PlayItForward has carried these beliefs forward as it continues to work with the local community.

Kate Moughtin, who oversees PlayItForward, is a big advocate for supporting local causes. She explained that over the past 10 years, PlayItForward has invested more than £2.5 million into the local community as well as supporting over 270 different charities and worthy causes.

From volunteering in the local community, to the support of an educational bursary for Isle of Man students, PlayItForward has been committed to supporting initiatives which its staff members believe are just ‘the right thing to do’ – and according to Moughtin, this is going to continue long into the future.

As you can imagine, it was difficult for Moughtin to select just one milestone over the programme’s 10-year history. One thing was certain, however, and that was how proud the Microgaming team is of this programme – and for good reason.

Kate Moughtin - Senior CSR and Marketing Manager, Microgaming
Kate Moughtin – Senior CSR and Marketing Manager, Microgaming

“Our volunteers have gone above and beyond within the local community, come rain or shine; they’ll be out there helping in whatever way they can, whether it be marshalling and setting up the Douglas Soapbox – an action-packed kart racing event which takes place in the capital of the Isle of Man – restoring decoy puffins to encourage birds to settle and breed on the island, or supporting the Community Games, a sports-focused event that encourages young people from the age of 11-18 to try their hand at a new activity,” Moughtin said.

“I personally think that the education bursary has been the most rewarding. We’re very proud of supporting 36 talented minds throughout their university journey. We are currently supporting seven students this academic year.

“We also do a lot of amazing things with supporting local environmental and climate charities. One that particularly stands out is the Manx Wildlife Trust – what they do has just been amazing, they protect the different local habitats across the Isle of Man.

“We’ve worked on so many impactful projects with them, such as planting a micro-forest when we celebrated 20 years of Microgaming in the Isle of Man, and it will be there for years to come.”

As well as supporting charities, Microgaming has also helped back research projects around the Isle of Man – most recently, this has included a seagrass research project as well as a puffin breeding programme. Moughtin said: “It’s great because staff want to get involved with initiatives like these, they’re fully engaged and passionate about the projects that we work on. But they are also doing the right thing for their local community and the planet.”

Microgaming recognises that it has a duty, as an organisation, to do everything it can to protect the environment beyond legal and regulatory requirements. This green ethos transcends the borders of the Isle of Man, forming a significant part of Microgaming’s pledge to promote ESG in the markets where it operates.

A responsibility to protect players

Alongside its commitment to environmental sustainability, Microgaming has long been an advocate of responsible gambling.

This work has been supported through the PlayItForward programme, which since 2020, has worked with 10 national and international responsible gambling charities.

Kate Moughtin said: “We believe that player protection measures should be at the front and centre of any gaming experience. PlayItForward has been working very closely with organisations such as Gordon Moody, YGAM and Motiv8 Isle of Man to support their mission in treating, minimising and preventing gambling-related harm.”

In 2023, PlayItForward’s funding has enabled both Gordon Moody and Motiv8 Isle of Man to continue their respective ‘comfort fund’ for families and loved ones of those going through treatment for gambling addiction.

Working with YGAM, meanwhile, has allowed the charity to expand its services with local faith and community leaders, thereby making support services accessible to a wider range of people who may be afflicted by problem gambling.

This is just a small snippet of the work that PlayItForward is doing to promote fair play and responsible gambling.

A rich heritage

As Microgaming reaches its 30th year, and PlayItForward reaches its 10th anniversary, the company hopes that it can continue to lead the way on ESG and CSR practices both within the gaming industry and also for the local Isle of Man community.

When speaking to the Microgaming team, it was very apparent that this focus on CSR, ESG and responsible gambling remains central to everything that the company does.

People, place and planet may be the defining features of the PlayItForward programme, but these three core pillars are certainly emulated across the wider Microgaming organisation. The list of the positive impacts that Microgaming has had both on its local community and the wider iGaming industry is undoubtedly long and very distinguished. And as the company surpasses the 30-year mark, this impact will continue to be felt for years to come.

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