Gaming operators, suppliers and regulations have been rapidly changing in 2017, but what shall we expect for 2018 and how to get ready to it?
1. New licenses, new markets?
The age of the .COM when a single license allowed to offer games worldwide is gone in most of the countries. A local license is being required in an increasing number of countries and an European harmonization of gambling regulations seems still far away.
The good news is that more and more licenses are becoming available, with Spain that just launched the tender and hopefully Italy that will follow. The challenge will be to pick the right countries to enter into and the right timing. An early entrance might be costly, but provide a head start for when regulations will become more attractive.
2. Mutual recognition of online licenses after online poker sharing liquidity?
Online poker sharing liquidity is now in place, at least in France where the first sharing liquidity license was awarded. The arrangement still needs to be implemented in countries like Italy where it faced some political objections. However, the strong harmonization across the European Union of sectors like anti-money laundering and data protection should push at least for the expansion of sharing liquidity to other games like casino for cumulative jackpots and bingo and to the mutual recognition of technical requirements so that operators will not need to get the same platform approved in each country.
3. Gaming advertising will not be cancelled
We are hearing almost every week a new proposal for the introduction of restrictions to gambling advertising. My view is that licensed gaming operators shall be able to advertise their business as any other business, and general European advertising regulations are already quite stringent. Also, in countries like Italy and Spain, they have been topped by stringent gambling advertising regulations whole requirements cannot become even tougher as otherwise operators will not be able to run their business.
4. The European Privacy Regulation will considerably change the business of gaming operators, suppliers and affiliates
The General Data Protection Regulation will be binding from 25 May 2018 after a transitional period lasted 2 years. Regardless of such long time window, I have the impression that the impact on the gaming market has been considerably underestimated.
I discussed in this blog post about the impact on the gaming market and in these article on how the scenario might gaming for gaming suppliers and affiliates. But a completely new approach will be required for instance in relation to players’ profiling and security of players’ personal data. This is particularly relevant in a period when operators and suppliers will be forced to innovate and where privacy by design can be the sole solution to exploit data at the time of the GDPR.
5. Operators shall speed up technological development to survive?
The gaming industry has been traditionally slow to change. But the growth of the Internet of Things, machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain etc. is expected to shuffle the market. Entities from other markets might dominate the gaming market in the coming years. Operators and suppliers have no option other than change and do it quickly!