"The rapid expansion of iGaming continues to make headlines throughout Europe and indeed the world"

Exclusively for eGame Spectrum: Martin Britton, Managing Director, GLI Europe, and Africa with an interview about the opening of the Sweden market, the accreditation for GLI by the Republic of Cyprus and the new technologies in terms of regulation.

1. This August, following the opening of the Sweden market for operators, GLI announced adding the new laws and regulations to its ISO accreditations. What do you think are the opportunities that Sweden holds for the European market? How would you rate the new regulations introduced so far?

A: As you know, the Swedish parliament on 7 June 2018 voted in favor of the new Swedish Gambling Act and Swedish Gambling Tax Act which both take effect on 1 January 2019. The purpose of these new laws is to regulate the gambling market and strengthen the protection of players. The national gambling monopoly as it was previously constituted will cease to exist. In its place, three new sectors will be established. There will be a competitive sector for online gaming and betting; a sector for the public; and a sector that falls within the purview of the Swedish state government. Additionally, the new regulatory framework creates a licensing system and a new excise duty tax of 18 percent will be introduced. 

As it pertains to the new regulations introduced so far, we note that Sweden’s Lottery Inspection regulatory body will be appointed as the state’s gaming authority; hence changing their name to “Spelinspektionen.” This regulatory organization shall decide on licensing and exercise supervision. Anyone wishing to provide gambling services will be required to have a license; illegal or unlicensed operators will be prosecuted accordingly. Licenses shall be granted for a fixed period of no more than five years.

There are six different types of gaming licenses:
- Commercial online games

- Betting

- Land-based commercial games

- Games on ships in international traffic

- Games reserved for the State

- Games reserved for public purposes

It’s also important to note that these rules do not apply to parlor games, amusement games, computer games, or games dependent on a player’s skill. Moreover, certain additional exceptions will be in place. For example, game agents do not need a license when providing games on behalf of a Licensee. Furthermore, companies that manufacture, install, or modify gaming software currently do not require licensure; nor do games which do not require a “stake,” such as in various social media-based lotteries or games where participation is based on “sharing” or “liking” a post. 

Considering these momentous developments in the evolution of the rapidly advancing Swedish gaming market, we have the best people in place in all our offices to assist our clients and help them navigate the new rules and regulations for Sweden. This is an exciting time for all of us. We all know this market will bring many new opportunities for our clients and time-to-market will be paramount for go-live scheduled in January.  

2. Another important event was the accreditation for GLI by the Republic of Cyprus. How important was this for the company?

A:  Being the first independent laboratory to be awarded accreditation to test and certify gaming devices in the Republic of Cyprus is both a prestigious honor and a significant milestone in terms of the continued growth of GLI Europe’s robust presence across the continent. We are indebted to the National Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission of the Republic of Cyprus for placing their trust in GLI’s capabilities as the region’s premier testing and certification lab. GLI’s accreditation, moreover, is emblematic of our commitment to serve the needs of the Commission; as well as to provide suppliers and operators with the outstanding value and customer service that is the basis for GLI’s global success both in Europe and throughout the world.

3. How do you think European regulators manage to adapt to technical developments and new technologies in the context of regulation?

A: Technological innovation continues to move forward at a rapid pace, as does the development and expansion of new regulated land-based and iGaming technologies; especially in Eastern Europe. European regulators must, therefore, develop an agile mindset and a willingness to be flexible and adaptable so as not to stifle innovation with burdensome and inflexible regulations. There must be enough “give and take,” as it were, to permit the flourishing of new gaming technologies while at the same time protecting the integrity of the game and the public interest. 

At the recent International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR) Conference in Copenhagen, we were pleased to conduct a half-day regulators seminar which addressed many of these pressing technological issues. Attendees of this seminar were eager to learn about the latest technological developments affecting the European gaming industry, such as cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, and the growth of iGaming. Moreover, we are gratified that so many regulatory bodies throughout Europe have taken advantage of our highly regarded GLI Standard Series; which is a compilation of best-practice technical standards developed in close collaboration with the global gaming community. These standards, such as the newly released GLI-33 Event-Wagering Systems, provide a framework for regulators to create their own jurisdiction-specific regulations. Or, as we have seen, regulators will also adopt our technical standards in their entirety. These standards are designed to foster technological innovation within the context of an adaptable regulatory framework.

4. What do you think is the key market innovation that marked the year of 2018? 

A:The rapid expansion of interactive gaming (iGaming) continues to make headlines throughout Europe and indeed the world. Interactive, or online, gaming is continuing to expand its market share at an exponential rate as more and more people gravitate toward playing a wide assortment of casino and sports-styled wagering games on their smartphones, tablets, laptops, and PCs. Millennials, especially, want to play games wherever they want and whenever they want; whether on the subway, at a café, in a park or lounging in their apartment. The expansion of new communications technologies, such as 5G Wi-Fi, will no doubt open more possibilities for online engagement throughout Europe. This is also true as it pertains to the expansion of mobile sports wagering. The ability to place sports wagers in-venue or during sporting events presents its own set of unique technological and regulatory challenges. 

Consequently, GLI has bolstered its iGaming expertise in Europe to assist regulators, operators, and suppliers with the world’s leading iGaming and sports wagering testing, certification, standards consultancy, and thought-leadership. It should be noted that GLI is approved in all regulated iGaming markets around the world; allowing our valued clients to produce larger amounts of revenue through global expansion via multiple jurisdictional deployments. Most significantly, GLI pioneered independent testing services for clients entering online gaming jurisdictions in Europe and throughout the world. In fact, GLI certified the first online gaming systems to go live in such early regulated jurisdictions as Antigua and Barbuda, Malta, the Isle of Man, Gibraltar, and the UK; to name a few.


5. GLI will be joining this year's EEGS on 20-21 November. What are the highlights from your participation in 2018? 

A: We are both pleased and honored to participate in both the Eastern European Gaming Summit and BEGE in Sofia, as both these premier gaming conferences afford the opportunity for us to share GLI’s vast storehouse of knowledge and expertise gained from nearly 30 years as the world’s leading testing, assessment, and certification laboratory. We are excited to sponsor the EEGS Meet and Greet party and look forward to meeting with our colleagues and fellow attendees at this networking event and during the conferences to demonstrate how our locally focused approach can help regulators, suppliers, and operators throughout the Baltic states and Eastern Europe achieve success as this dynamic gaming market continues to develop. With 23 locations on six continents serving 475 gaming/lottery jurisdictions, we are eager to share how our “regulation ready” capabilities make us the “export experts” helping suppliers get their products anywhere in the world they want to go.