GMB - How did the stoppage of activities in many international markets affect GLI?
Karen Sierra-Hughes - There was a very important process to get all of our employees to work remotely. The company's priority is its staff. It was a situation that we considered admirable, since in a few days everyone was connected and working from their homes. It is a difficult time for the industry, especially for the face-to-face gaming sector. This impacts everyone. That is why it is important for a country to have different gaming verticals, which allow it to maintain the industry in a sustainable manner. We have seen that in jurisdictions where online gambling is allowed, operators have been able to maintain themselves, although income has not been the same. From day one, we are with customers, supporting them in their certification processes, as well as in direct contact with regulators, offering them information so that they can make appropriate decisions to support the industry, which is an economic activity that generates so many resources for countries and governments.
And what about the operation at GLI’s laboratory?
There are certain processes that must be done in the laboratory. We have seen a good response from the regulators to accommodate the current reality to continue with our work, since it is not possible to take the gaming equipment to our engineers’ homes. The regulator needs to understand this situation and the continuity of procedures to ensure that everything goes smoothly. With regard to online gambling, there are certain audits and certifications that need to be carried out in the field, such as in data processing centers, and regulators in different jurisdictions are allowing these tasks to be done remotely so that when everything goes back to normal, validations will be made. This ensures that operators and providers comply with all needed requirements. We cannot stop development and innovation. Thus, in the online gaming the tests are being done remotely and have not been so affected.
In how many jurisdictions is GLI working?
Around 475 jurisdictions worldwide. We have not only certification processes for casino games, face-to-face and online, but also with lotteries, sports betting, and bingo. That is, all verticals existing in the gaming industry. This is important because we have identified that more than 475 jurisdictions have regulated gambling and have established technical compliance requirements to ensure that gambling operations are fair, transparent, auditable and controlled.
And how has GLI's presence in the Latin market been?
We are very happy with the work in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is very enriching to see how our industry has grown and become more professional. Each region and country is different. In Central America, the sector is developing, still without many regulatory entities and laws for the activity. It is not like South America 20 years ago. Each country has its own specific objectives and in the past 16 years we have seen a lot of progress in our industry, both for operators, providers and for regulators.
And what about Brazil that continues to struggle to implement a law for the gaming sector? How do you see this market?
There are no discussions. The day that Brazil opens, it will be the largest market in Latin America. It cannot be compared with Argentina and Mexico since it is a country of continental dimensions. It is difficult to advance the legislative process in relation to gambling, nothing much different from other countries in the region, because in no country was it easy to pass a gambling law or legislation to expand gaming offer. We are hopeful that Brazil is looking for ways to move forward in the regulatory process.
We saw this in the theme of Lotex. It was a first step, as was sports betting. This is not the perfect scenario, as we see that the more options and openness of diversification of gaming, the greater the success of the activity. If it is not ideal, it is a step towards reaching an industry that we hope will gradually grow and become legal to achieve a national gambling policy, a comprehensive gambling legislation that allows different types of operations, always protecting the player and the integrity of the gaming sector, obviously regulated and controlled by the entity, in the case of Brazil, the Ministry of Economy.
It is important to show to government that gambling is an economic activity…
Exactly. This is the objective, to show that our industry is an important part of the economy in the countries where it is properly regulated. Therein lies the problem. If we are going to talk about a country where there is no gambling regulator, legislation, policy, we cannot take this into account, as they are not real experiences. The real experiences of an industry relate to regulated markets, which have investments, local supervision, audited.
I often say that our industry meets even more advanced requirements than the banking and other activities. Everything depends on the regulatory framework defined by the government. This is what is happening with sports betting. If done well, regulated and with good practices and supervision, it can be extended to other types of operations and other types of verticals. It is very important that the process is the best possible one.
What is your message to the government and the operators who want to work in Brazil?
Both for the government and for the industry in general, I believe that one of the main things that happened in Brazil from day one is that they have government representatives who were willing to learn and listen to the industry, participating in seminars and opening their doors to the industry so that we explain what we do and how we work in other countries. This is not done worldwide and in Brazil it is normal. Peru's success in regulating the activity was precisely due to its open-door policy. The government of Brazil is doing this and not only in the Ministry of Economy, but also in the Senate and the Federal Chamber. It was incredible to participate in hearings in both Houses. It is not very common to have this opportunity in many countries.
Everyone's participation is important so that the decisions that are made in regulation are appropriate and based on best international practices, but adapting them to Brazil, as each country is different and everyone has limitations and different cultural aspects. In Brazil there is this great advantage of listening to the industry, which also benefits from this. Locals can expand their horizons and see what is happening in other jurisdictions and understand that the process of complying with regulations is for the benefit of everyone, including providers and operators.
With this we ensure a sustainable industry in the long term and the best conditions for everyone to succeed, both the industry with its business and the government in the matter of collection and consumer protection. There is no equal protection for players and no collection, guarantees and transparency for those who are offering illegal gambling.
Source: Exclusive Games Magazine Brasil