Joining the Swiss market “taught us a number of lessons” explained Michaela Mayr, head of regulatory compliance at Greentube, who believes that even though the Swiss law is of high quality it “occasionally leaves room for interpretation.”
Greentube has continued to enhance its presence in Switzerland this year following deals with Swiss Casino Group and Casino Davos, to name a few, whilst broadening its reach to other regulated online markets, most recently with its latest partnership with Baumbet which saw the former take its suite of igaming titles live in Romania.
Mayr took time out of her busy schedule to talk to CasinoBeats where she highlighted Greentube’s pioneering approach to new regulated online markets, adapting to constant changes and gaining an advantage through legal requirements/restrictions.
CasinoBeats: Greentube has been one of the first to launch into new regulated online markets such as Switzerland as soon as the doors have opened. What role has your team played in enabling the company to be an early mover on these emerging opportunities? What lessons have you learned?
Michaela Mayr: From a regulatory point of view, entering the Swiss market was a very interesting yet complex project. Although we started relatively late in preparing to launch compared to the competition, Greentube was one of the first actors to go live in the market – an achievement that was supported by a new cross-department approach we adopted for Switzerland.
As well as launching our games with all major operators, Greentube built and delivered the gaming platform to our partner Casino Interlaken, which required our ongoing support throughout the licensing process.
For this particular project, we formed a small core team with members who have legal and compliance, technical, operational, and project management backgrounds and expertise, providing us with a holistic perspective by which we could quickly act on opportunities and react to challenges.
That being said, the experience has also taught us a number of lessons. Although Swiss law is of high quality in my opinion, it occasionally leaves room for interpretation. We believe in the importance of close communication between the licensee and the supervisory authority.
The possibility to approve our designed technical solutions in advance with the authorities would have saved time and last-minute development efforts
CB: The regulatory environment for gaming businesses is constantly evolving. How can you best keep pace with these changes and adapt product and processes accordingly?
MM: The Greentube Group operates real-money online platforms in Italy, Spain, UK and Schleswig-Holstein, as well as several global social casino products. In addition to our own brands, we offer gaming platforms and services to our licensed partners in four other jurisdictions.
To stay in tune with developments, the compliance team needs to closely monitor and analyse all changes in legislation before they take effect so that the product teams can prepare for the upcoming changes – and that applies to several jurisdictions at the same time.
We rely on our own sources and the information from our business partners, but also on trustworthy external law firms in every country. Another important source is of course networking with other stakeholders in the industry and various online journals, which provide regulatory and legislative insight on the developments taking place.
However, all this input could easily get confusing if not properly structured and documented. We have found that high-quality documentation is not only vital for our department to keep track of all developments, but also for tracing and re-examining previous compliance decisions.
“Greentube is by nature a very modern, technology-driven company and we are provided with the latest collaboration tools by our IT department.”
CB: Does your team use technology to streamline processes and improve efficiency?
MM: Greentube is by nature a very modern, technology-driven company and we are provided with the latest collaboration tools by our IT department. These technologies ensure that laws, contracts, decisions and requirements are documented in such a way that we can immediately access all necessary information in the event of an official request or an audit.
I also believe that the more information is shared and accessible, the better the compliance awareness of the entire company, not only in terms of gambling compliance but also in terms of privacy and data protection.
Given the fact that my team is located in Vienna, Austria, and in Malta, technology helps us to overcome the lack of face-to-face communication. I found the book “Remote” written by the founders of Basecamp Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson very inspiring.
It introduced a new path to working effectively without the necessity of a team to be sitting in a physical office. With suitable technology, I am able to see updates from my teammates and colleagues throughout the day, which saves me and others a lot of time on various status update meetings and calls.
This allows time for more valuable work that requires continuous attention and focus, such as drafting contracts or legal analysis.
CB: In terms of product and business development, how does the legal and regulatory division act as an enabler to innovation? Is there a balance to be struck?
MM: At Greentube, when our colleagues come up with new business ideas, we always try to be open minded. We listen and then use our skills and expertise to find out how we can help as much as possible to find a compliant implementation path.
If we have to say no to a new innovative idea, we make sure that we always explain the reason for our decision. In this way, we hope to educate on compliance matters and to build a relationship of trust with various departments. This is not a one-way street: Compliance depends heavily on innovation provided to us by our technical teams.
More and more, we have to work with new tools which use machine learning algorithms to analyse patterns related to Responsible Gaming or money laundering to keep up with the industry standards. Compared to the land-based industry, we process larger amounts of data, which of course offers opportunities, but also entails greater responsibility.
“At Greentube, our colleagues appreciate that we are there to help them with any questions or problems.”
CB: How does the legal and regulatory team involve the rest of Greentube and how important is it that other teams keep up with legal developments?
MM: In a heavily regulated industry like ours, in-house compliance and legal departments need to develop certain awareness within other departments. It is extremely important to understand which problems need to be subjected to compliance and legal review. But that also means these teams must be approachable.
At Greentube, our colleagues appreciate that we are there to help them with any questions or problems. It is clear to us that every legal framework is different and, in most cases, complicated. This is why we proactively communicate, share, and explain the rules as far as possible to our colleagues throughout the business.
Greentube successfully went through the ISO 27001 certification, which also greatly contributed to streamlining the review processes – and a year later, we see that it brought real value to our company.
CB: How can legal requirements/restrictions be used to the company’s advantage and add value to the business?
MM: The gambling laws in various regulated markets all have one main goal, which is player protection. The restrictions resulting from the laws add value to the business because they force the industry to act responsibly and thereby protect its reputation.
We have vast experience in player protection and we analyse different measures in different jurisdictions. For newly regulated markets, we see the effort to come up with new and original sets of player protection measures. But there is also value in learning from each other and taking over the methods which have proven effective elsewhere.
Conceptually, most agree that the responsible gaming regulation is necessary and adds value to the business. By having a proactive RG strategy, Greentube believes that we ensure greater player satisfaction with our products.
Communication is also central to our strategy as we found that some of our RG indicators have an interesting effect on our anti-fraud and AML checks. Hence, by working closely together on an inter-departmental level, we manage to strengthen the overall direction of the company on many different fronts.