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Network News • 31-07-2022

‘Big in GIG’

Author: Kess Van Orman - Audit & Accounts Intern PKF Malta
Published on The Malta Independent: 31st July 2022

Gaming Innovations Group (GIG) is a B2B software company headquartered in Malta. Recently, GIG has been awarded the capacity to participate in the Ontario iGaming market and as a supplier, this permit is known as a supplier license, attainable through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), coupled with its subsidiary iGaming Ontario (iGO). Gone are the days of illegal gambling activities within the province; the new dawn of regulation and standards bring the legalisation of the iGaming industry to the precipice of responsibility for all involved.

Despite being a new segment of the gambling sector, regulations are being crafted and implemented at a tremendous pace. For example, the regulating subsidiary iGO is developing the policies necessary to have operators and their software suppliers collaborate with other operators and suppliers to have player accounts and information streamlined for a "centralised self-exclusion programme". A programme that will help safeguard the vulnerable in the iGaming world is possibly far more feasible than in other segments of the gambling economy as accounts are trackable and verifiable. Even before the legalisation, the idea of these safeguards would have been impossible or even unimaginable. There are also safeguards from other factions of regulators, such as the Responsible Gambling Council, with their "RG Check". Besides being an accreditation process, the RG Check investigates procedures created to have an external review of iGaming policies within regulated and active operations as well as classifies the operator of the accreditation for and during licensing. These and other regulations make the industry safe for users and fair and reliable for operators.

The Canadians' perception of the iGaming industry has a newfound trust, monitored and developed by advances in regulation and oversight - the rules providing a haven within the controversialness of the market. The work of AGCO and subsidiary iGO may seem suffocating, however, the benefits still outweigh the lengthy processes and procedures required of every entity in the industry.

There is also a significant advantage in the regulations themselves. Even with the iGaming Ontario (iGO) in action and application policies, there seems to be a fair amount of room for legislative growth geared towards the entire iGaming industry. AGCO fees for the iGaming sector must pay a regulatory fee of $100,000 annually per active website. Suppliers' annual fees range from $2,000 to $15,000, depending on the type of supplier a company is. In this evolving industry, there are boundless systems and implementations of policies that can be incorporated into existing regulations. Ontario Regulators can learn from the successes and failures of other countries' executions to intertwine these policies in the best way possible.

IGaming operators have also implemented many tools to optimise players' relationships with responsible gambling and problematic gambling behaviors. Use applications such as limiters on time and spending and varying periods of breaks incorporated for self-exclusion purposes. These are also considered the minimum standards set out by the AGCO.

Other resources for players are fully accessible such as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and ConnexOntario. These two outreach organisations provide competence and care for individuals in the throes of addictions and other mental health-related circumstances. The quality of providers speaks to the consciousness of the province and its capacities to do right for citizens. It is not surprising that there are government-funded resources for addiction, especially of the gambling variety. It is well known that there are crown corporations (government) in the gambling industry and significant indigenous ownership.

Lucky for GIG, there are also established iGaming operators they are well acquainted with, such as LeoVegas and others, through operator and supplier relationships worldwide. Currently, to this date, only 31 sites are active for players to engage with in Ontario, Canada, which are operated by 18 corporations that are fully authorised by AGCO and presented on the iGO website.

The competition for the public's attention has increased. But before the campaigning begins, entities must meet the rigorous marketing standard set out and monitored by numerous organisations. Some of these organisations are the Canadian Marketing Association, Advertising Standards Canada, Better Business Bureaus, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Competition Bureau and Consumer Affairs Office. They not only strive to protect players but also balance the line of safe engagement for all viewers.

An example of an iGaming entity making the most within the high standards is the famously electric orange campaign strategy of LeoVegas. Recently they have changed their voiceovers within their advertisements to one that is more regionally similar. This observant and slight change may help to convince Canadian and province visiting players to engage more with their site. Attention to these details reflects well on operators' commitment to the market and their commitment to the marketing standards.

In light of these circumstances, innovation is the key with a clientele pool the size it is in Ontario. From a comparative industry, gaming EY surveys report that 83% of participants speak about the importance of innovation. As many talented suppliers enter the field, the potential for increased competition is prevalent.

Regardless of the challenges, there is still a significant incentive to invest in the region. The iGO states that the Ontario market is forecasted to procure a lofty $1bn in revenues. The market size as a whole is still undetermined.

Unknowns aside, GIG is a Maltese company that may find companionship in the mosaic of Canada's people through multiple Maltese-Canadian associations in Ontario, which may provide a community and expand GIG's opportunities.

Conversely, there are still some rules that GIG and any who interacts with the iGaming industry should note in the province of Ontario. Physical boundaries still affect the behaviors over wagering. Only individuals of any country's residence, over the age of 19, may partake in the active wagering process when such persons are within Ontario's borders. Other interactions with the industry are allowed remotely, excluding wagers.

Soon GIG will become a mainstay in the Canadian iGaming industry and make a name for itself as an expert in iGaming software.

Since the inception of IGaming in Malta, PKF has been a pioneering firm in promoting this industry. It welcomes any request from interested bona fide operators to tap the exciting new licenses in Ontario Canada.

Author: Kess Van Orman - Audit & Accounts Intern PKF Malta
Published on The Malta Independent: 31st July 2022
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