Following a rebrand of its gaming division being undertaken earlier this month SMP Partners expressed great confidence and ambition in moving forward with Amber Gaming, a stand-alone brand that will continue to work with online gambling firms around the world.

Formerly known under the SMP eGaming moniker, the move was lauded as presenting the division with “an incredible opportunity to carve out its own identity and forge ahead with its own plans for growth”.

CasinoBeats has speaking to Jade Zorab, director at Amber Gaming, to delve into the finer details of the rebrand, the development of compliance requirements and challenges of new market entry.

CasinoBeats: Tell us more about the rebrand to Amber Gaming?

Jade Zorab: We are really excited about our rebrand. SMP eGaming has established a fantastic niche within the gaming industry over the last ten years, however in order for the company to evolve, a change of name, look, style and feel was required that encapsulated better, who and what we are. Launching into the market as Amber Gaming, provides us with an opportunity to accelerate forward with full autonomy and proceed with our exciting plans for growth.

“The industry as a whole, particularly in the UK, is coming under increased outside pressure”

CB: Is the team behind Amber Gaming the same as the team behind SMP eGaming?

JZ: Yes, the team remains exactly the same. Ted Pepper is Amber Gaming’s managing director and is supported by his fellow directors Matthew Robins, Karen Yates and myself. We are also supported by a fantastic team of experts that have a wealth of specialist knowledge and that work closely with clients around the world in multiple jurisdictions.

CB: How has Amber Gaming built on the products and services offered by SMP eGaming?

JZ: The products and services offered by Amber Gaming will remain the same and continue to fall into the core areas:
▪ Licensing Consultancy, Compliance 365, ISO and GDPR Consultancy, Risk and AML
Frameworks, Problem gambling and effectiveness reviews, ongoing advisory and support
▪ Corporate Management and Administration, Bookkeeping and Accountancy
▪ Training, through the Amber Gaming Compliance Academy
We are also offering specialised corporate structuring, management and accounting services to the esports industry, following the hire of a dedicated industry specialist last year.

CB: How do you see compliance requirements developing over the coming months and years? 
JZ: The industry as a whole, particularly in the UK, is coming under increased outside pressure from the government and the press to protect problem gamblers. There will be an increased expectation for operators to use all of the tools and statistics available to them to build player profiles and protect them from losing more than they can afford. Operators will be expected to understand more about their players at an earlier stage, with evidence of source of wealth or payslips likely to be required.

Similar to the above, VIP schemes as we know them may become a thing of the past. We have begun to see output from industry working groups formed to address poor practices around the treatments and incentives offered to high spending customers. Whilst already a requirement, the process of moving players to ‘VIP’ status will likely be enhanced, with operators only being able to do so when all anti money laundering and responsible gambling concerns have been alleviated. The use of incentives, the topic that sparks most controversy in the press, will need careful consideration.

“It will be interesting to see how other regulators view the UK standards”

The UKGC’s approach to the review of VIP schemes by forming industry groups makes it clear that the Commission expect operators to collaborate and share best practice, with the shared goal of reducing harm across the industry. This is something I would expect to see more of in the future, and gives operators the opportunity to retain a level of control in changing the industry for the better rather than the regulator being forced into introducing more draconian measures.

It will be interesting to see how other regulators view the UK standards and whether they will seek to adopt, improve or enhance their own regimes, particularly around problem gambling which is likely to be a key issue for all regulators globally.

CB: How can organisations respond to these requirements? What can you do to help?
JZ: They should consider the use of AI or similar software that is available. It’s important that such software is only used to assist with decision making and not relied on too heavily. Operators must be able to interpret the data they are presented with and make good use of it through taking action or improving processes – an area where Amber Gaming can help.

By working with us, operators can get ahead of the game. We can see that these changes are coming so operators should be assessing their approach to VIPs to create a smooth transition to the changes when they arrive.

Operators should regularly assess their processes in relation to AML and responsible gambling. Amber Gaming can conduct a ‘health check’ of your existing processes to ensure you are meeting your regulatory requirements and that your policy and procedures remain effective; Amber Gaming can work with you to address any gaps identified.

“Operators should strive to create a sustainable environment for their players”

Operators should strive to create a sustainable environment for their players, to build trust with them and to forge long term relationships. This can be achieved by undertaking effective interactions, at the right stage of the relationship with players to assist them with managing their gambling, ultimately leading them to staying with the operator, spending within their means, over a long period of time.

Setting the tone and culture from the top is critical. This means introducing the right standards and embedding them across the organisation, which in turn will help operators become flexible and be able to adapt and transition to regulatory changes while retaining and even growing their business in a compliant fashion.

CB: Which markets in particular are organisations showing interest in?
JZ: We continue to see a lot of interest from operators in emerging markets where the demand for online casinos, live dealer, slots and sportsbook appears not yet to be saturated. This covers both software providers of whom we have seen the biggest interest as well as direct B2C operators.

The Isle of Man is also the perfect jurisdiction to obtain the relevant licences for a business operating within these markets. The licensing process is extremely straight forward and relatively quick without compromising best practice AML and responsible gambling measures, affording maximum protection to the consumer. The regulator is well experienced and regarded with the IOM Crest indicative of trust and credibility.

“Ensuring customer satisfaction and protection remains at the forefront”

Further to the change in gambling legislation in Malta in August 2018, we have seen a significant surge in interest from operators who are keen to have a foothold into Europe.

CB: What are the challenges of entering these markets? How are they overcome?
JZ: With respect to all markets, the challenge has always been two-fold; educating the client-base on AML and related regulatory responsibilities. Gambling responsibly also is a key ethical consideration which we can provide suitable advice and assistance on. Ensuring customer satisfaction and protection remains at the forefront of successful online operators.

Amber Gaming has an experienced and qualified risk and governance team who work closely with operators and over the years has honed its ability to train and educate operator principals and management teams.

This is delivered through bespoke face to face training in situ and/or via its CPD accredited
Compliance Academy, which offers a range of online courses written by professionals with practical experience in these areas.