The Compliance Process™ – by Steve Donoughue

Start-ups in the online gambling industry, like in any industry do everything by the seat of their pants. Strategy and planning are not what they are renowned for. Hard work, enthusiasm, creativity and a burning desire to succeed is what they are rightly famous for, just don´t expect this to be done in a methodical manner. No great artists ever painted by numbers.

Sigmagazine24

Left to right: Dr. Simon Planzer & Dr. Steve Donoughue at SiGMA15

Unfortunately, our darling regulators have not designed a regulatory regime to fully accommodate less than a handful of people, trying to build, promote and fund their business idea often from rented desks and often after doing their real job that pays to keep the lights on. The compliance requirements of every gambling regulator do appear to have been written for the likes of well-established gambling business with the funds to employ a whole phalanx of expert compliance staff to ensure that everything is above-board, t’s crossed and i’s dotted.

Part of the issue is that regulatory compliance is not exciting, costs money and can even be perceived as irrelevant, as if you have only two customers, why are you spending so much resources on what to do on the slim chance they may be a problem gambler or a money launderer. I have a client who sells raffle tickets for £1, bans anyone spending more than £80, yet we have to do a policy and procedures for what to do in the freakish event someone wants to buy over £1,734 of them.

So understandably for many start-ups, once the licensing process is completed, compliance sometimes takes a back seat as all efforts are put into growing the business. I have seen a few clients who thought that just having the telephone number of a gambling lawyer should be enough if something hits the fan. Unfortunately, this is never going to work out as hopefully while you have two customers one week, you may have two thousand the next (if you’re very good!). German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke stated that “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy”. The same is true with online gambling customers. Very rapidly you will have one who is trouble and you will need to have your compliance procedures in place or you will have the regulator down on you like a ton of bricks. Your dreams of dominating the online gambling world can easily come crushing down just because you didn’t have the right procedures in place. So how do we solve the problem of start-ups with limited resources getting compliance right?

My answer is to have compliance wired in to the very core of the business from the start. To do this, I use what I have imaginatively called The Compliance Process™. It’s a business process model that is still currently under development but showing amazing results so far. It’s based on system which identifies what triggers compliance events and then dictates what needs to be done when those events are triggered. Think a computer programme that gives and takes the relevant information from the right people at the right time and gets them to do the right thing. It’s almost like an automated compliance director yet with his/her job being done by everyone in the company.

The main advantage of The Compliance Process™ is that everyone in the company gets to understand what needs to be done, why and when and the outputs are exactly what the regulator wants. The most useful output though is arguably the peace of mind it can give all the licence holders and the regulators. With The Compliance Process™ in place there is more time for being a start-up, you know: Foosball, beard competitions and thinking everything is awesome.

Steve Donoughue has been a management consultant specialising in the business strategy and politics of the gambling industry for the last twenty two years – www.gamblingconsultant.co.uk.

Steve will be a speaker at Payments & Disruptive Technology Conference during SiGMA17. Register and secure your place for the conference now!

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Country by country reporting: why should a gaming group care?

Country by Country reporting was introduced to Malta by L.N 400 of 2016. It amended the Cooperation with Other Jurisdictions on Tax Matters Regulations S.L123.127 (“The Regulations”).

It is a recent tax compliance obligation that requires multinational enterprises to annually file a comprehensive group tax report in every jurisdiction where they have a tax residence. The report is designed to show global tax information of the multinational group and of its constituent member entities. For every member entity of the group that is tax resident in a jurisdiction that has implemented the Country by-Country tax reporting standard, a general obligation is imposed to provide a report not only of its local activities but also to provide a complete tax-picture of the group, showing the relevant tax information of every other entity within the multinational group. This creates significant tax obligations at group and entity level.

KPMG eSummit

Russell Mifsud speaking at KPMG eSummit held during SiGMA16

A multilateral Convention setting out the framework for automatic exchange of information and documents has been entered into with a total of 108 countries being signatories. Within this framework, as at 1st March 2017, 57 countries have signed a multilateral agreement to exchange the CbC report within the “Country-by-Country” tax reporting standard in their respective jurisdictions. Apart from the multiple reporting obligation that this creates, the potential to trigger tax investigations across multiple jurisdictions is a concern well deserving of timely attention.

Who is affected by this legislation?

The Regulations apply to groups with a consolidated group revenue of €750,000,000 and above (or the equivalent in local currency). A multinational group with a consolidated group revenue below the €750,000,000 threshold is considered an “Excluded MNE”. Given the nature of activities and revenue, gaming entities are likely to meet the criteria triggering the CbC reporting obligations.

What entity within the group files the report?

The primary duty to file the report rests on the Ultimate Parent Entity of the group, following which Constituent entities are to file similar reports in the respective jurisdictions where they are tax-resident. In special circumstances specified in the Regulations, a Surrogate Parent Entity may be appointed to file the report on behalf of the group. A comprehensive appraisal of the group’s activities would be required to determine what member-entity is in the best position to file the report on behalf of the group. In certain circumstances, special rules apply for member entities that are tax-resident within the EU.

When should this report be filed?

The Regulations took effect from January 2016, making the first country-by-country report due as from January 2017. Therefore, every multinational group that meets the €750,000,000 threshold and having a Malta tax resident member bears a responsibility to file the report as from January 2017.

What are the penalties for non-Compliance?

Failure to comply with the Regulations attracts statutory penalties ranging from €200 to €50,000, depending on the nature and gravity of the default.

Do you need help?

KPMG Malta is here to help. They are among the leading service providers across the financial and non- financial industry arenas. Their team contains an experienced, multidisciplinary group of tax and advisory professionals that have worked on a range of global and national reporting projects for some of the world’s largest organizations. Their network of professionals can help you meet your reporting obligations with limited disruption to your business. They recognize that you face a number of regulatory requirements, especially considering the nature of your business. Their approach to CbC is consistent with their delivery of other regulatory consulting services, enabling you to achieve compliance synergies.

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Meet Pierre Mallia, Managing Director at iMovo

We met Pierre Mallia, Managing Director at iMovo, for an interview about the company and thoughts about the industry.

Hello Pierre, how are you? Are you ready for SiGMA17?

Hi there, sure we’re all really revved up and raring to go at iMovo for what we are sure will be a very successful SiGMA17! I mean 16 was good, but we’ve got far higher expectations this year.

How did you come to enter the online gaming space and set up your company?

Well actually in our case it was the other way round, we started up in 2010, as a boutique firm specializing in CRM and Analytics, and quite by accident we learned that this was a pillar for gaming companies to be successful. We’ve never looked back and working with our partners Zendesk, Salesforce, Qlik, Tableau and Talend we are helping players in the industry right across the board.

Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?

Well as I said before, we’re 100% focused on CRM and Analytics which are the mainstay of any gaming operation. We have an Advisory and Projects team which provides advisory services such as process design and best practice in key areas such as sales, marketing and customer service. Our team is heavily certified in the solutions we provide and has experience of working with companies right across the world. We bring our customers a blend of experienced business advisors and deep technology competence.

Pierre Mallia, iMovo

How do you think technology is driving business forward? What are the little secrets that help iMovo in innovating yet again?

I’ll turn that question around a bit if I may: Where do you think the business would be without technology? Pretty rhetorical right? So yes technology is not just driving it forward, but also radically evolving and changing the way the business works. As to our “secret sauce”, well that’s a secret! But let’s just say we do 2 things well – “eat our own dogfood” and keep looking out at the distant horizon of digitalization and adopting approaches and new technologies that will take us that way. For instance, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going to be a major disruptor in the Gaming Sector and we’re making investments to be ready for that.

What makes iMovo unique? What do you have that will make you succeed that some of the other companies maybe don’t have?

Well I guess the answer to that is pretty apparent, first off we have great people in the team! If it weren’t for the team we’d just be a run of the mill technology shop. There’s energy and verve and the fact that we’re playing in a global marketplace not just domestic really drives our collective will to compete aggressively against players who are a lot bigger than us.  The second aspect is our razor sharp focus on customer success. We’re not content to simply sell solutions to our customers, we’re totally customer centric and go more than the extra mile to ensure our customers succeed – their success is our success.

Thirdly, I guess it’s also down to our partners. When you’re working with the best in class global players, this forces you to learn from them and grow up fast.

Finally, I’d say it’s the kind of customers we have and the relationships. Yes all companies have customers – but with a very high proportion of repeat business and much coming from global blue chip customers, this really makes it worthwhile.

Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?

Well apart from Malta, we’ve done projects in countries like the US, UK, Italy, France, Greece, Romania, Mauritius and Dubai. So as you can see we have a diverse area of operations and the industries are also extremely varied. For instance we operate in the retail and government sector in the UK, the utilities sector in Greece and France and of course financial services and gaming here in Malta.

What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?

Mobile is a great opportunity. One of our key customers locally was an early adopter and has one of the most downloaded mobile apps locally as a core part of its business today. I don’t think companies have really rethought their business in terms of the part that mobile can play – we see a lot of gaming firms working in mobile and gradually also quite a few onboarding their customer service operations to mobile , which is a key space we play in. Mind you, I believe that we ought to be re-inventing our business in terms of other non-conventional channels as well such as social and here I am talking about the broader scenario beyond the Facebook, Twitter sphere.

Are there any other exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?

I think we’ll do a rain check on this point 🙂 … otherwise we’d be pre-empting what we are planning for SiGMA17. So just one word to your readers; if you’re interested in learning how to leverage your customer data and improve your operations, come by and visit us at SiGMA17.

What sort of gaming-specific technology services do iMovo offer online gaming firms?

As mentioned before, we’re heavily into CRM technologies where we have a close relationship with Salesforce and Zendesk. I need not elaborate much about what these two do for gaming companies as we’ve been helping a variety of firms in the industry. We also provide self-service analytics and visualization services through our Tableau and Qlik practice to many of the major operators in the industry in a variety of use case scenarios.

What is the main thing that you’d like SiGMA readers to know about your business?

We’re not a big bureaucratic company – we love to work with customers and help them increase their customer lifetime value proposition. We are pretty unique, particularly to Malta, because we’re the only firm that specializes in the fields we cover and so can bring so much value to your business.

What two pieces of advice would you give to any entrepreneur starting today?

Look for “white-space” in the market, don’t start a company which is providing precisely what other established firms are doing. Look at bringing something new to market. You also should really understand business. Too many bright ideas have fallen by the wayside because the focus was on technology and no thought went into how to bring that technology to the market.

Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?

I’m a terrible gambler, so sorry I don’t play slots! What would I do with a million – well four things:

  1. Buy a sailing yacht
  2. See kids thru college
  3. Invest some of it in iMovo
  4. Donate to a charity that works with disadvantaged kids
Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Meet Christophe Sikita owner of Slots4play and Slots4play UK

We met Christophe Sikita, owner of Slots4play and Slots4play UK, for an interview about his company and thoughts about the industry.

Hello Christophe, how are you?  Are you ready for SiGMA17 ?

Hi Marius, yes, I am ready!

How did you come to enter the online gaming space and set up your company?

I was always interested in gambling and was advised by a friend to form the company.

Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?

It is a relatively small company, comprising of 2 full time developers, 1 full time writer and 1 full time social media coordinator.

With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?

No, not surprised at all.

A number of your competitors have gone down the real money operator route, and tried their hand at white labels. Have you also done this?

I have considered it, but still undecided… Well I think not. Affiliate business is taking a lot of my time so the final answer is NO 🙂

Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?

Reviews, Promotions, Releases, Strategies and Tips and Updates.

Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?

UK, Europe and USA.

How do you find UK market and competition?

UK market is indeed competitive, especially with more new casino sites being released every year. It’s not easy to stay up to date, but we’ll manage anyway 🙂

How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?

I’m focusing increasingly on unique content to rank organically and, to be honest, I don’t really care much about Google updates.

Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?

Not really… I am preparing myself for a long holiday – that’s all about it, haha!

What is the main thing that you’d like SiGMA readers to know about your sites?

Well, if they do look for a long partnership then that’s all they need to know, I am open and looking forward to meet trustworthy and long-term partners!

What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?

Great chance to increase player database and income, haha!

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?

Having to focus on What I do now, trying not to get angry at some affiliate managers, watching my income grow.

What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?

The first one will be: Be Patient. It takes time to do it properly and focus on one aspect of gaming and go for it.  The second thing will be: Don’t believe all the crap you read on the Affiliate Forums.

Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?

Just managed to quit haha, but I don’t know… I’m a simple guy, trying not to get much attention on me, haha!

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Meet Lord Brar, VP Business Development at Adaptive

We met Lord Brar, VP Business Development at Adaptive for an interview about his company and thoughts about the industry.

Hello Lord, how are you? Are you ready for SiGMA17?

Hi Marius, I am good, thanks! And yes, I am absolutely ready for SiGMA17.

During my last trip to SiGMA16, it was raining all the time I was there. So, looking forward to (hopefully) enjoy Malta’s legendary 300 days of sunshine and the country itself.

How did you come to enter the online gaming space and set up your company?

I stumbled upon online gaming space completely by accident. As a performance marketing agency, we operate in a lot of verticals and are constantly being recommended offers by affiliate networks to test.

One of the affiliate managers who I really trust and respect, recommended me to try this casino offer that was performing well. Because I know he never asks me to promote average or under-performing offers, I decided to give it a try.

Since then, casino industry has been good for us and become one of our main verticals.

Lord Brar

Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?

We consider us a data and technology company more than an advertising company. We use a lot of proprietary technology to manage large scale media buying across many verticals and countries.

As for the structure, we work with a team who specialize in various aspects of the game. We have teams of media buyers who specialize in a specific traffic source. Other members of our team include – copywriters, graphics designers, programmers and data analytics specialists.

With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?

No, it doesn’t surprise me at all. Business cycles always work this way. I have seen it happen over and over again in different verticals. Consolidation is a sign of market maturity.

In a way, it is a good thing. Once companies grow really big, they are not able to innovate at the same pace. This gives perfect opening for a “new guy” to come up with something really innovative and market disruptive.

A number of your competitors have gone down the real money operator route, and tried their hand at white labels. Have you also done this?

It is something that we have given a serious thought to. However, there are lot more elements that go into making a casino successful and we are not sure that it is the best route for us right now.

We are currently focusing on doing what we do best – media buying and driving new customers to our partners’ brands.

Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?

A more appropriate description of our strategy would be unique and innovative ways to advertise. Media buying is a really competitive game and you have to be on the cutting edge of innovation to make a profit.

Over next 6 months, our primary focus will definitely be finding newer ways and channels to advertise.

Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?

Our current focus, in gaming industry, is UK, CA and NL.

We want to start testing Latin America as we have had a lot of success in those markets in other verticals. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to yet find partners who have successful brands that convert for us in those markets. But I see a lot of potential there…

How do you find UK market and competition?

We love the UK market. As a matter of fact, it is one of our main markets. Yes, the competition is really high there, but it has performed really well for us and our partners.

Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?

Right now, we are working on scaling our business.

On one hand, you can think of it as really exciting. On the other hand, it is extremely boring routine work. However, it is extremely exciting from the point of view that in future we will have capability to deliver more player for our partners and work with more partners.

What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?

The move to mobile has been one of the best things to happen to us. Over 80% of our traffic is mobile traffic, and the more casinos that support mobile the more partners we can work with.

Think about it – mobile is the way people use internet now. This is not going to change anytime soon. As a matter of fact, this is the way things will grow in emerging markets. We can only look at it as a positive opportunity.

What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?

The first and most important advice that I will give to split-test everything. Test, test and test everything – if you think you have tested everything, I am sure I can think of a few more things to test.  Try to squeeze every penny that you can from each click.

To give one example, once we tested the placement of offer in first half of the page and second half. We were getting a lot more clicks by having the link in first half, but those links were not converting. The clicks from links in second half of the page were performing WAY better. It’s not something we would have assumed if we didn’t test this hypothesis.

The secondly. treat your affiliate business like a real business. With the amount of competition now, you have no choice but to treat it like a real business.

Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?

No, I don’t. I am more of a poker and roulette player. I like to play people – and, I feel more energetic in presence of people rather than stare at screens. As a matter of fact, during AGS Tallinn, it took me a grand total of 2 minutes to lose all money I had for playing slots.

If I do somehow end up winning 1 million euros from jackpot, I’d go straight to roulette table and bet it all on number 13. I can only imagine the kind of rush it will give me…

Passionate about results-oriented advertising and an avid student of consumer behaviour, Lord has been acquiring, building and growing e-commerce and media companies since 1999.

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Lightning Box Games powers into Kung Fu action

Specialist slot designer Lightning Box Games’ latest release sees a Kung Fu fighting panda, decked out in black belt attire, who is ready to take on the world.

Panda Pow is a 3×5 reel, 25-line slot which features a unique wild symbol that triggers a free games bonus when any five or more are hit.

Panda

Extra stacks of wild gold pandas are added to the reels in the free games mode, providing a great opportunity for wins over multiple lines.

Players can win between five and 20 free games, depending on the number of wild bonus triggers.

Furthermore, a deluxe version of the game will be released exclusively for William Hill’s retail estate on 24th May, which has been modified to become a 10-line slot to suit the needs of players at the bookmaker’s 2,300 plus network of Licenced Betting Offices (LBOs).

The bespoke slot for Hills follows the successful UK retail debut of Lightning Box Games, which saw a tailored version of the supplier’s popular online game Silver Lion distributed within Hills’ LBOs.

Peter Causley, Lightning Box Games’ managing director and co-founder, said: “Panda Pow Deluxe has a quirky Kung Fu fighting panda ready to do battle for you. Our friends at Betdigital have added an exciting B2 game into this model which we are all stoked about.”

“Once again, we’re thrilled to be providing William Hill with an exclusive, tailored version of the game for their LBOs, just as we did with Silver Lion.”

 

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Jackpot.com adds lottery messenger to its lottery portfolio

Jackpot.com has become one of the first online lottery operators to add a lottery messenger proposition to its licence in Malta, continuing their strategy for global expansion.

This latest addition, which was approved by the Maltese Gaming Authority (MGA), enhances the Jackpot.com product offering, providing it the flexibility needed to expand into territories with dynamic, changing regulatory environments.

Jackpot.com CEO, Yariv Ron said: “As the first company to receive a secondary lottery license from the MGA earlier this year, we are very happy to work closely with them once again to strengthen our offering and enable greater choices to customers in more markets around the world.

“2017 is proving to be a very exciting year for us, with plans to introduce new products and enter new territories. Products like this are another pillar in our strategy to further establish Jackpot.com as a global lottery brand.”.

Jackpot.com currently provides users the chance to bet on the outcome of 17 of the biggest and most popular lottos from around the world, including US Powerball, EuroMillions, US Megamillions, German Lotto, Irish Lotto, and more.

 

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Meet Dorin Cechea from Gambling Judge

We met Dorin Cechea from Gambling Judge for an interview about his company and thoughts about the industry.

Hello Dorin, how are you? Are you ready for SiGMA17?

Hello Marius! I am good, thanks! I really look forward to this year’s SiGMA. I will be attending for the first time and I am very excited!

How did you come to enter the online gaming space and set up your company?

It all started a few years ago after working as an SEO freelancer. I was passionate about sports betting and gambling in general and it seemed only natural to build websites for this niche. I made a lot of websites and projects since then and I still like to write and talk about gambling. I currently work on GamblingJudge.com and other affiliate websites.

Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?

I started as a freelancer, doing one-man jobs, trying to learn a bit of everything, but I soon realized that strategy is not good for big and steady projects. So I started a company together with a business partner. We have now on our team developers, web designers, content writers, SEO consultants and server experts. Some are working from our office, some work remote, from other countries.

With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?

I am not, to be honest. The industry is huge and I think it’s expected to see big mergers and acquisitions. I know the value of traffic and the truth is that big affiliate websites really deserve to be sold for millions of dollars.

A number of your competitors have gone down the real money operator route, and tried their hand at white labels. Have you also done this?

We are sticking to building affiliate websites, since bringing organic traffic is our main expertise. We do however bring investors and partners in our team, since we are very eager to expand.That is not exactly white label but it’s already something similar that could develop even greater in the near future. Going the real money operator route is a different type of business and I don’t think we are ready for that yet.

Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?

Yes, that is a big part of our strategy. We finished developing our product, a website that is very versatile and customizable. We are now using that template to create more websites that are based on great content and later on, good marketing strategies. That is our plan not for the next 6 months, but for the next few years. I still don’t see enough people putting their main focus on building quality content and link building campaigns.

Which marketsdo you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets ?

We are focusing on the sports betting and casino industries, which are huge in most of the countries. We are taking up on them little by little, trying to cover them as best as we can. We’ve been looking to enter the e-sports betting market, since it grows by day.

How do you find UK market and competition?

It is extremely tough for the sports betting and casino niche, talking from an SEO perspective, but there still are lots of long tail keywords and sub-niches that can be used to build traffic, even by the new webmasters. Just don’t expect to make any profit in the first year without a decent budget.

How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?

Well, we are all familiar to the golden ages of seo and marketing, when almost all tactics worked. We too, like many others had websites penalized a few years ago. That caused a shift in our thinking and strategy and since 3 or 4 years ago we started to focus only on white hat seo. It’s a lot slower and more expensive to build quality content and links but we are here for the long run and are not open to compromises. We are working now only with long term projects in our mind.

Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?

We are continuing to grow in size and quality our websites like GamblingJudge.com and some newer ones. We’re planning to build some exciting communities around them after we allocate the resources for this.

What is the main thing that you’d like SiGMA readers to know about your sites?

That we are working hard to provide accurate ratings for each operator, that we provide geo-targeted bonuses and promotions and that they can find genuine and honest articles on them.

What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?

All our websites were optimized for mobile, even before the mobile update from Google. So most likely it helped us. Mobile traffic is huge these days and we wanted to satisfy mobile users right from the beginning.

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?

Our biggest challenge would be to climb in rankings for keywords with great competition. Fighting with well-established websites from UK is a difficult thing, but we’re building strong from the ground-up and I expect to see big results in the next year.

What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?

Any new affiliate should learn to do very good research before starting a new project. Know how to pick your battles: profitable keywords, good social media strategy and smart paid ads are the main component of a good ROI. You should be able to project the result of a marketing campaign before committing too much effort and budget. If you’re just guessing, chances are it’s not going to end good.

Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?

I don’t play too much, to be honest. I found out that writing about slots games is more profitable than playing them. I would invest the 1 million in a company or project that would bring me back several more millions back in 2 or 3 years.

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Meet Joris Dekkers, Managing Director of Delta Markets

We met Joris Dekkers, Managing Director of Delta Markets (www.gokkastenspeelautomaten.nl, www.roulette.nl, www.toplivecasino.nl, www.toplivecasino.co.uk), whose team is participating in SiGMA this November.

Hello Joris, how are you? Are you ready for SiGMA17?

Hi Marius, I’m very good thanks! Unfortunately, I can’t be present at SiGMA17. A shame, as I always love to come to Malta for a few days to network and party. However, my parents have been married for 40 years and to celebrate this, they are taking me and my girlfriend to South Africa in November. So instead of negotiating on flat fee’s and CPA’s I’ll be spotting wild life! No reason to feel sorry for me! Martijn, our executive manager, will however be present and perhaps more of our Delta Markets team will join.

How did you come to enter the online gaming space and set up your company?

I think in 2005 I already had setup my first online poker website, which was focused on educating American poker players. I also sold an e-book, which made it to the top 3 best sold online poker e-books on Clickbank (a sales channel) at that time. After the legislation prevented US players from depositing money on foreign online sites, I had to sell the website and decided to step out of the industry for 3-4 years. Then I started TopCasinoBonus.nl, after which we started more than 10 other affiliate ventures under the umbrella company Delta Markets.

Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?

Delta Markets BV stems from the consultancy company I erected in 2012 to facilitate the income and expenses of TopCasinoBonus.nl. Officially I chose the name in 2015, just after I had resigned at Unibet as Online Marketing Manager for Holland. Soon I hired Martijn Bluemink, who still is my right-hand and the manager of the team. 5 other people have joined the company after that, of which 2 also have had to leave us. So the current team is 5 people strong. We focus our efforts on Dutch focused casino, forex bingo and scratch card sites and have also started expanding into the UK, Germany and .com. 5 casino projects are 50% owned by Gaming Innovation Group’s branch Innovation Labs. Roulette.nl is owned by a private person; we manage the domain for him. The rest of the projects are fully owned by Delta.

With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?

As you all know I have experienced it myself. Back then I wanted to sell TopCasinoBonus.nl not just to settle financially, but also due to the upcoming regulation of the market which would have repercussions for affiliates. Frankly, the Dutch gambling market has still not regulated. But I do not regret the sale at all. To be honest, affiliate business can be risky and competition is rising every day. I do feel that today the prices paid for affiliate sites are sometimes too high. But for the Catena’s and Innovation Lab’s of this world it doesn’t matter too much, with the bonds they secure they can take risks.

A number of your competitors have gone down the real money operator route, and tried their hand at white labels. Have you also done this?

No, but I have of course thought about it. The thing that keeps me from doing it, is that it is a life changer compared to the affiliate life. As an affiliate you can skip a day and you never have to wake up during the night. As an operator this changes, you’re in it 24/7. Also, it’s very hard to come up with an online casino that’s different. For me, all these whitelabels all look the same, except for the ‘theme’ they choose. So if at all I’d decide to step in, I’d want to create something unique throughout all the layers of business: product wise, CRM wise, VIP treatment, (affiliate)marketing etc.

Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?

We are already moving forward by creating video content, integrating more rich-media in our pages and emphasize on easy to read text. Our content writers are very experienced and know exactly what players like. So it’s also a manner of keep doing what we do well. The world changes fast, but not over night.

Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets ?

Holland is our main market, after that come The UK, Germany and the .com world. We also have a big casino site in Belgium.

How do you find Dutch market and competition?

The Dutch market is a good market. It’s not too competitive, like Sweden or The UK. But it is becoming more saturated. A disadvantage is the regulation process which is tiring, also for the gaming authority; lately, they seem annoyed by the disruptive forces in the political arena which gives them a reason to start chasing affiliates on the basis of the old gaming law which clearly states Holland has a monopolized casino market. This makes it sometimes a bit edgy to focus on .nl traffic. But all in all it’s a great market.

How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?

We focus less effort on link building, and if we build links, it’s quality links. Our content writers stick to the changing rules of google, meaning shorter sentences, easier to read language and less keyword stuffing.

Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?

Yes, we are launching our UK and German live casino affiliate sites, toplivecasino.co.uk and later on toplivecasino.de. Furthermore we’ve launched this great slots content portal allonlinecasinoslots.com, it’s a giant beast with more than a 1000 pages.

What is the main thing that you’d like Sigma readers to know about your sites?

Not sure, they’re great sites I guess : – ). On a more serious note, if you want to launch your online casino in Holland, we dominate three of the five most important niches (being online casino, casino bonus, roulette, live casino, slots). The latter three categories are our dominions so Delta can be your one stop shop to plug and play your casino in the Netherlands. And of course we hope to do this in the UK and Germany soon as well.

What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?

All of our sites have always been mobile optimized, because of the great wordpress theme’s we use.

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?

We will have to create more compact content to cater the impatient needs of youngsters nowadays and in the future. Young people growing up in the current society don’t read books or watch 15 minute videos. They want everything to be fast and summarized, or they go somewhere else.

What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?

I’d tell them to look at my answer of question number 13. Second, I would advise them not to be afraid of the big companies: the creativity and ingenuity of a fast paced speedboat can always beat slow moving cruise ships.

Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?

Yes I have to admit I play slots sometimes. To be honest, I have no clue what I would do with that money, the good thing would be to invest it in more affiliate business :- )

 

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Developing landscape of gaming regulation – interview with Joseph Cuschieri, MGA

Following a busy few months, SiGMA caught up with the Malta Gaming Authority‘s executive chairman, Joseph Cuschieri, to find out more about the developing landscape of gaming regulation and the authority’s position.

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From L to R: Anton Cristina, CEO, CSL, Joseph Cuschieri, Executive Chairman, MGA at SiGMA16.

At the end of February, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) hosted a conference entitled “The Developing Landscape of Gaming Regulation. What Next?” with an emphasis on the key drivers of the future of gambling. Could you share some outcomes of the conference with us? How does the regulatory body see the future of online gaming?

Traditionally, not many regulators are usually present at these kind of events so, in this respect, the conference we organised was one of a kind in that the MGA welcomed no less than 24 fellow regulators which created the perfect opportunity for them to interact and exchange views with the several operators who also attended this event. Following a number of panels discussing regulatory issues, several workshops were held during the afternoon session dealing with various current topics affecting this constantlyevolving industry. The workshop format enabled inclusive and informal discussions among the various stakeholders which may now be taken to higher levels. A number of action points for the attention of regulators were identified. These discussions reflected the will of the various regulators to get a better understanding of the operations in the industry. While from a legal perspective, it is clear that almost all European regulators have adopted separated national regimes, it is also evident that anincreasing number of them are interested in learning more about the industry and implementing controls that are practical and relevant to it.

It seems like the MGA is looking into the possibility of regulating the use of cryptocurrencies in gaming. Recently, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat himself made bold remarks in favour of Europe leading the way in bitcoin: where are we? And is the MGA working closely with the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) on this front?

The MGA is fully cognizant of the fact that the rise of cryptocurrencies is inevitable.  Conscious of the need to remain at the forefront of innovation, the Authority has commissioned a study with the involvement of other local stakeholders, including the MFSA, to ensure that all the relevant factors are taken into consideration in devising the manner in which best to cater for the use of cryptocurrencies in gaming.  Thus, so far the key risks presented thereby have been identified.  The Authority is committed to permitting its licensees to introduce the use of cryptocurrencies in the immediate future once the above-mentioned study is concluded. The outcomes of this study are expected  to assist the MGA in devising a commensurate framework which incorporates the necessary safeguards to ensure that the introduction of cryptocurrencies in the local gaming ecosystem does not prejudice primary regulatory objectives, such as the protection of players, the prevention of crime, and the reputation of the Maltese jurisdiction.

During the first semester of 2016, the gaming industry contributed 12% of the total economic value added generated in the Maltese economy with employment in the gaming industry rising by 31% year on year. Do you anticipate Fantasy Sports playing a significant role in sustaining this growth?

Fantasy Sports has been gathering significant interest over the past few years. However, it still remains to be seen whether the American phenomenon will be able to catch on in Europe. Suffice it to say that our recent initiatives in this sector have generated numerous queries and substantial interest.

The Skill Games Regulations came into force last January. Undoubtedly, this was a big step for the industry. What was the reason behind introducing this new set of Regulations?

This new framework has given us the ability to apply the right controls on new, emergent games in accordance with the risks they pose to consumers. After research into these evolving products, the MGA found that while the proliferation of certain online skill games offered for money may require regulatory intervention, the risks being presented were different to those being presented, for example, by online casinos. Different products present different risks to consumers and the creation of a framework that is more specific to skill games will allow us to look at these emerging games with a different lens.

How do you see the future of the Fantasy Sports niche in Malta and how do you think it will change in the light of the new Regulations? A set of criteria make Fantasy Sports a skill-based game, not a game of chance.

Now that we have designed a framework, that includes specific technical requirements for Fantasy Sports operators, I believe that more operators will be looking at Malta as their jurisdiction of primary establishment in view of the legal certainty now in place and a robust, consumer-centric framework. This framework will consolidate and increase Malta’s profile as a highly reputable jurisdiction when it comes to the regulation of gaming, with the licence itself being the golden standard of quality.

Some Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) are more skill-based than others because their modes of assessment is more complex. Are there a number of criteria that a DFS needs to fulfill in order to qualify as a skill-based game?

First of all, the framework doesn’t only address Daily Fantasy Sports, but also addresses weekly or season-long fantasy games. The law itself lists the criteria against which the MGA needs to carry out an assessment. We look at the specifications of the game itself, how points are generated and assigned to players and any other game features. If we remain unconvinced that it is a skill-based game, we will ask the operator to present proof – the onus to prove that it is indeed a skill-based game rests with the operator.

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Edwina Licari, Chief officer, Legal, EU & Int Affairs, MGA, chairing a panel discussion about Brexit and its impact on gaming at SiGMA16.

The MGA has amended the Remote Gaming Regulations to strengthen consumer protection and promote administrative simplification. What were the most important changes you implemented? What did they mean for operators and players?

We are always trying to make things easier for operators who must be compliant with an increasing range of different laws. The industry has evolved significantly over the last few years and this has shifted the focus on empowering consumers, putting them at the centre of all regulation and ensuring they have the right tools to manage their participation in an evolving sector. The most recent changes to the law were instigated by these considerations and shall also serve as a basis for further change which is yet to come with the regulatory overhaul we are proposing to government this year. Having been in the regulation game for over ten years now, the MGA is cognizant of the shortcomings that must be addressed in order to keep Malta on the regulatory forefront, forever innovating and growing the sector while ensuring the pillars of gaming regulation are not jeopardised.

We know that the MGA continued working with the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) on the implementation of the new 4th Anti Money Laundering Directive (AMLD), set to come into force this year. Could you shed some light on this cooperation and its results?

We can report very positive progress with regard to cooperation with the FIAU in recent months. All operators in the gaming industry will become ‘obliged entities’ under the new 4th AMLD and we have been working hard, together with the FIAU, to implement the Directive and publish clear guidelines on how the various sectors of the industry ought to assume their new obligations. Following informal consultation with the industry and a risk assessment, the MGA is now discussing particular aspects of the proposed implementation with the FIAU. Once a draft document is agreed to between the two entities, the industry will be consulted once again. The MGA, supported by the FIAU, is committed to implementing the new directive in a way which safeguards the industry from money laundering and the funding of terrorism while ensuring that the controls imposed are commensurate with the exigencies of the industry.

The Malta Gaming Authority participated in SiGMA16 and you took part in the Regulatory Conference. How did you find last year’s edition?

I believe SiGMA16 was a great event! A number of high profile speakers and industry experts participated, and the topics tackled during the different discussion panels were very relevant and engaging. The presence of top industry stakeholders continued to increase in this last edition, leading to some excellent networking opportunities for those who attended.  All this makes SiGMA a truly international gaming EXPO, placing Malta, once again, on the ‘Must Do’ list of the yearly gaming calendar events.

This article was published first on SiGMA Magazine.

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?