Compliance conecpt
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Offshore licensing jurisdictions have always offered operators the chance to access multiple gambling markets in a legal and simple fashion. Yet there are challenges when going down this route, particularly as more onshore regulations are being mandated globally. 

Challenges also arise when offshore jurisdictions change the goalposts for its licensees. When these challenges do occur, operators seek a helping hand and advice to overcome these issues. 

Ron Mendelson, Founder and CEO of Fast Offshore, has seen all of this. He founded Fast Offshore, a consultancy for offshore licensing and compliance, in 1998 in San Jose, Costa Rica. The firm has a focus on corporate services, regulatory compliance, licensing, payments and all of the other ancillary services that go with operating a functional gaming business. 

Mendelson, speaking to CasinoBeats, explained that regulatory compliance is always evolving and being able to adapt to those changes is crucial for an operator to be both compliant and successful. 

“It’s an ever changing part of this industry,” he outlined. “All we have to do is look at Curacao and how it’s changed in the last couple of years to something completely different, that really no one even knows where it’s going to land at this point in time. 

“Regulatory compliance and licensing is by far one of the most challenging aspects of the business. Our strength lies in analysing our operators, our clients situations, target markets, and providing them solutions that are effective or practical. The approach we take is to work on what’s going to work for our client rather than what looks good on paper.” 

Fast Offshore helps its clients to gain licenses in multiple offshore jurisdictions such as Curacao, Anjouan, Kahwanake, Malta and the Isle of Man and boasts over a quarter of a century working in the field. 

So, after amassing all of this experience, how does the company help clients choose the perfect jurisdiction for their needs? 

Mendelson outlined that most of Fast Offshore’s clients are looking for agility and flexibility in where they can operate and above all, offering practical solutions to compliance problems is at the heart of its offering. 

“We have clients that are huge operators, that have half a dozen licences. One of the reasons they take some of these lower tier or offshore licences, is because they provide that kind of agility. Many of these large operators will create a separate brand, or corporate

structure for fear of being ostracised, or criticised because of the politics of the business that unfortunately exist.” 

Mendelson is more than aware that firms looking to gain licenses can run into an image problem, but is far more concerned about finding a practical solution and offering its compliance expertise. 

“We take a more practical approach,” he added. “We recognise that there’s markets out there that maybe aren’t well regulated, but there are players who want to play. As long as they can be offered fair play and the business is run clean and legal and legitimate, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to play.” 

‘Curacao’s market dominance could soon be over’ 

Mendelson also explained that, while Curacao has long been heralded as a leading light for offshore licensing, recent updates from the island nation’s Ministry of Finance is tarnishing that reputation. 

After a new regime was instilled in Curacao, those seeking offshore licenses are now looking elsewhere for their solutions, something that Fast Offshore is helping multiple clients to overcome. 

Mendelson explained that while some clients are more than happy to take on the additional duties of the new regime in Curacao, this sentiment is not shared by all. 

“For the majority, that’s not the case, because it is now six times the cost and there is a heavier compliance burden. This is especially the case with some of the smaller, more innovative companies that are creating unique games and blockchain-based games. For them, agility is what’s most important to them. And when you have too much regulation and too much bureaucracy, the first thing that suffers is agility.” 

Instead, Fast Offshore is helping more clients gain licenses in both Anjouan and Kahwanake, which offer the agility that they desire so much. 

“The whole idea is to create a win-win environment for everyone where players can have an experience that’s safe and fair and operators can provide their service in a safe and fair environment. That is the little space, the intersection where the magic happens.” 

‘Blockchain games can provide new growth opportunities’ 

Moving ahead, Fast Offshore is seeking to explore the blockchain and cryptocurrency-based gaming sector more as the year presses on. The firm has a long history of working with innovative companies according to its founder, and gambling must embrace newer technologies in order to realise future growth.

Mendelson noted that “bitcoin is not going anywhere”, and so there is an opportunity for online gambling to harness these technologies to grab a “second wind” of growth. 

He concluded: “The industry is having a record year right now and we believe that part of what’s driving it is these innovations and new technologies and new ways of doing business or providing all the growth. Some of the licensing jurisdictions are more open to these new technologies and others aren’t. 

“Those that aren’t are going to lose, that’s inevitably what’s going to happen. So you’re either going to participate or you’re not, but it’s going to continue, because there’s a demand for it. There’s an appetite for it, and it’s just going to continue. So we always support them and will continue to do so. 

“Our role as a regulatory compliance advisory business is to make sure that the clients we’re engaged with are doing things properly, are following their local regulations, are complying with whatever their obligations are, whether it be KYC, responsible gaming, or AML. It’s our role to guide them and advise them so that they comply and doing that ensures stability for their business and stability for the industry.”