Antonio Zanghi, founder and managing director at Maxima Compliance, explains why compliance has come out of the shadows – and why it should be embraced

For the best part of two decades, the online gaming sector has treated compliance as something of an afterthought.

It has been seen as an inconvenience, and the majority of approaches to the challenges it presents have reflected this way of thinking. All too often, compliance is the last point on the checklist when it comes to entering a new market or rolling out a new product.

But changes to the regulatory reality facing both operators and suppliers – particularly in Europe but also further afield in the US and Latin America – means this is no longer good enough.

For those who want to capitalise on opportunities in the increasingly fragmented and regulated global online gaming market, compliance must be placed at the centre of just about everything you do.

“The regulatory and compliance burden is growing by the day

A growing burden

The regulatory and compliance burden is growing by the day. New markets have introduced frameworks which require igaming companies to completely rethink the way they do business.

Sweden is the most notable recent jurisdiction to re-regulate, but the likes of the Netherlands, Peru and the state of New York could well follow.

Whereas operators and suppliers traditionally relied upon a single licence – more often than not from Malta – to operate across a wide range of markets, we are moving towards a regulatory model where a local licence is required in the majority of jurisdictions.

This is a sea-change in expectations for most igaming compliance functions, and the old ways of doing business no longer apply.

The question is: how to adapt?

Efficiently shouldering the compliance burden of modern igaming requires a complete rethink of the way you run your business.

Compliance can no longer be an afterthought; instead it needs to be embedded at every level of your business. This means educating staff throughout the organisation – from development to marketing – on key compliance concerns.

A new way of thinking

Take a couple of typical examples.

You are a slots developer looking to roll out an innovative new game in multiple markets. The game has been in development for months, but no-one thought to check whether that new, industry-first feature will be permitted under regulations in Sweden and Spain. You face a choice – delay the launch for another few months to adapt the feature, or proceed with a limited roll-out in a handful of other markets.

In today’s ultra-competitive environment, those suppliers who are fastest to market are those who embed compliance into the development process from stage one. Is your development team building products that will meet the requirements of your key markets without major adaptation? And is it future-proofing your products by building out easy ways to adapt to new, yet unforeseen requirements?

Operators will face countless similar examples. Perhaps your marketing team has been focused on building and localising a campaign that relies heavily on incentivising players with a series of bonuses.

“Placing compliance at the heart of operations is the only way to meet increasing expectations

With your brand now licensed in Sweden, it has spent months localising the campaign to the Swedish market, only to discover ahead of roll-out that only a single, first-time deposit bonus is permitted under the new regulatory framework. As your team frantically looks for an alternative, your better prepared competitors are already grabbing market share.

Instead, ensure your compliance team is never siloed away. Open up channels of communication between it and your other teams, or bring in third-party assistance to ensure your marketing and development functions are up to speed on the latest requirements, and are making important decisions informed by new developments.

Placing compliance at the very heart of your operation is the only way to meet these increasing expectations.

Compliance need not be a thorn in the side of igaming firms. But as the burden increases, only those who embrace this new reality will be able to thrive in it.

Antonio Zanghi is the founder and managing director at Maxima Compliance, where he leads a growing team working across a wide portfolio of gaming clients