GLI’s name is now a byword for regulatory compliance and standards. Casino International caught up with GLI’s EMEA MDMartin Britton to find out more about the company, how they work and what matters to them.
Few companies enjoy the kind of reputation that GLI has earned, becoming a near-byword for the role theyfulfilin gaming jurisdictions worldwide. It’s a reputation the company rightly cherishes, as in the regulatory compliance field mistakes cost clients time and money. Martin Britton, Managing Director at GLI for the EMEA region, talked to Casino International about the company’s work.
Casino International: What’s the structure outside of North America for GLI?
Martin Britton: We have eight offices in various locations across Europe and South Africa, along with four offices in the Asia/Pacific region, and four offices serving the Latin American and Caribbean sector. My responsibility is EMEA. In each office we have dedicated teams serving clients in the region; we have various expertise in multiple locations. So, the objective is to fulfilthe client’s needs from whichever lab or office is suitable for them from a geographical perspective or from a language perspective.
CI: Are your regional offices comparable to your Vegas facility in terms of size and offering – or does the existence of Point.Click.Transfer.® mean the bulk of actual physical work is in North America?
MB: With 340 staff, GLI’s EMEA offices are probably larger than our competition on a global basis. Coupled with our size and expertise is our staff’s ability to communicate with clients in over 42 different languages. Scale is key to what we do in providing mass resources to allow rapid delivery times to our clients.
If a customer used Point.Click.Transfer., it would automatically come through to maybe a lab in Europe if they’re looking for a European jurisdictionor perhaps South Africa. Our focus is Europe and Africa in terms of certifications we provide, but if someone wants to go to California,Macau, or Singapore, we can facilitate them from our European offices.
What we’re looking for is to help our clients in whatever language they might be speaking, and in whichever jurisdiction they need. We just want to make sure that we can accommodate them in the best way possible. Time zone is quite critical too;a European client may only have a one-hour time difference to an African country, so you can fulfiltheir needs by talking to them during their business day and executing the work.
CI: There is a ubiquity about GLI now, your name is a byword for regulatory compliance in gaming; you’ve become the Hoover of gaming!
MB: Our clients are everything to us, and the help we provide to regulators is crucial; we’ve got a valid role to play in terms of being an independent lab with generic views of gaming, whether it’s technology orregulation, we’ve got an unbiased view of the world. Building our credibility globally has been our challenge; I think if anyone wantsto talk about compliance we’d like to think that they cancall, and we can help. Our aim is purely to help the industry, whether it is technology or regulation, that’s our game plan. We are a global player, accredited in 475 jurisdictions across the globe; our main focus is those clients and regulators.
CI: It’s interesting that you have to be entirely on top of both technology and regulatory to really be effective because technology moves so much faster than regulation, and you can have such a positive influence on the regulatory side.
MB: One thing is looking at aregulationso it is technology-proof; when we look at GLI standards, for example, which could be adopted for use by anybody, we try to make them technology-proof. But we do support a lot of regulatory bodies whereneeded about new technology, or we may be at a regulatory conference and we’ll just give a half-day session on topical subjects like artificial intelligence, loot boxes, whatever it might be. It’s our job to meander through it, understand it, then relate that to regulation.
CI: You acquired NMi in recent years; their focus is more on the online side, yes?
MB: Online, land-based certification plus field inspection was the key focus of NMi. Equally though, in GLI Europe we have a strong iGaming portfolio as well.
The merging of NMi was a strategic one for various reasons; they have the same philosophy for customer service as GLI, so we knew we were acquiring a credible company. But we also acquired an agile, complementary company, and we have many synergies with clientbase, location andskills. The last 18 months to two years has been about how we operate with the UK business and how we integrate their best-of-breedinto GLI. It’s been a really nice path to follow.
CI: Interesting times now, with sports betting erupting in the U.S.; it’s not new to you, of course, as you operate in many jurisdictions where sports betting is already legal, but there has presumably been quite a rise in demand for your services recently. What challenges does that bring for you?
MB: We’ve got a lot of expertise in this area already because inEurope and Africa, and some locations in the U.S., sports betting has been available for some time. So, we’ve got a huge amount of expertise and we’ve been working with our U.S. colleagues in the same way in developing the GLI standard for sports betting, GLI-33, which encompasses all the best of global sports betting regulation into one package.
Different locations have variations of what we produced in GLI-33 but the gaps are very small. What we are trying to do now is aid the industry ingoing down the path of standardisationwith GLI-33, and maybe adopt some or all of that.
I think there is a big explosion of clients that want to go into the U.S. with sports betting, and some of them were already approved in other jurisdictions. So, we are really looking at the gaps in some cases between a European jurisdiction and, for example, Pennsylvania. The volume of work to do that is substantial, sure, but it’s still in the whole global network of GLI because we’ve got a huge amount of resources that we can rely on, on a global basis.
CI: You have mentioned GLI 33 there – how do you actually establish a standard? Even with all the expertise in the company, the knowledge is still geographically disparate so who is it all brought together?
MB: Obviously we’re aware of current regulation in certain markets, so we know, in essence, what’s needed. All we do then is look at how can it fit within a global network or sphere; it might need some tailoring, or we might take some existing regulation or our own standards. In GLI-33, you’ll find that there’s a lot of commonality with other jurisdictions globally. Our aim is to standardiseand not to reinvent the wheel. That just causes challenges to enter a market and causes challenges with development and that’s not our aim; we want to standardiseso we can make life simpler for everyone.
GLI 33 will incorporate some of the requirements you’ll see either locally or globally, then we build on that to make it a more robust standard that will stand the test of time. We do review our standards periodically, and the amendments that we make are usually very small because we try to get it as accurate as possible or as user fit-for-purpose from the outset. We also involve the industry for feedback with any updates planned, as this is key to ensuring everyone knows what’s coming along.
You do get these surprises now and again, but I think generally we’ve got internal expertise that understands the market, understands the product and understands what is needed when it comes to technical regulation.
CI: How does the company move forward and grow, when growth is probably quite limited in terms of countries legalisinggambling?
MB: I don’t think we are at the end of the road in terms of gaming growth because there are markets still emerging; you’ve got Sweden opening, Switzerland, andmaybe the Netherlands.Germany is still off the table but it’s a big market. There are still markets available, ready for growth. Certainly, in iGaming regulation, or sportsbooks, there is always a lot going on.
Is it stopping? I don’t think it is right now. We are conscious of GLI’s position in terms of gaming. We’ve got interests outside of gaming, but we still see gaming as the foremost part of our business and we aim to continue to serve our clients as best as possible for the foreseeable future.
CI: Has broadband and mobile internet made life much easier for you and your customers, for things like Point.Click.Transfer., for example?
MB: GLI Access is another mechanism that allows our clients to look at their certification reports through a portal. Toolslike that have become very helpful for us and our customers.
We develop tools that help the industry, whether it is regulatory bodies or a client on the operator side. But our prime aim is always to fulfilthe needs of our clients. We do want to make sure we give a great experience to our clients and that they keep coming back, and they recogniseGLI’s quality while we offer a service that is competitive. We want to provide something to the client that makes a difference.
CI: Integrity is everything for GLI, surely?
MB: Maybe sometimes this is forgotten but the last thing you want is a certification report to be rejectedor to have problems in the field because that just coststime and money –which we are very conscious of when it comes to our clientssincetime is vital. It could have a disastrous effect forthe client but also for GLI because of brand image, perception is key. We are driven by providing great service to our clients. Therefore, quality testing and certification areparamount. GLI prides itself in testing to higher standards than other labs in the certification space, giving assurance to clients that products verified by GLI leave nothing to chance.
CI: Tell me about South Africa; there is so much mobile gaming on the continent, so that’s surely a completely different field – has that given you tools to take into the rest of the world?
MB: South Africa is a very regulated market both in casino low pay-out machines and sports betting. Ifyou look around Africa, PCs are not the biggest thing but pretty much everyone has a mobile phone. So that gives an opportunity for sports betting companies to operate in Africa in a larger way. The thing we are trying to help withinAfrica is regulation because, yes, some jurisdictions are not regulated or have limited regulation. What we’re trying to do is help them craft technical regulationsthat makesense for their market and that way they can regulate to protectthe young and vulnerable, collect taxesand operate in a controlledway. We feel we’ve got a big part to play in that and we’re trying to help as much as possible. We’ve been attending conferences and doing sessions and workshops withregulatory bodies across Africa. We’ve tripled the size of our operations in South Africa because we feel there is a need that we can provide for within the African market. It is a very young market in many ways in terms of gaming in certain locations; we’re trying to help them through this process of developing technical regulation that fits with their marketplace and allows them to operate in a way that makes sense.