The US online gaming market has been a hot topic among the gaming crowd for quite a while. No wonder, as everything is better and bigger in America! Well, that is at least what everyone said in the past. Nowadays, the iGaming industry is frustrated with the USA’s 50 states, 50 gambling laws, and 50 authorities. Some even go as far as to say Americans made things complicated on purpose, to protect the market from an influx of European companies. Honestly, I don’t understand all the whinging, because whether you love it or hate it, the European gaming market is also not simple at all. In fact, I think it is becoming more complex every year, but we are just used to it. The future of online casinos is local, and I’m here to prove it!
Back when I started working in the casino industry (and mind you, I am not that old), the situation in Europe was quite simple. There was the Malta Gaming Authority...and that’s about it. Occasionally, the UKGC would show up, but the UK gaming scene has always been a special case. When it comes to licensing, content writers, project managers, and even casino operators had it easy. And boy, did it spoil us!
The thing is, every country in the EU has its own gambling laws, and some of them regulate all the latest trends more diligently than others. Just because the MGA was “in charge” of EU-based online gaming, that doesn’t mean other authorities were sitting there twiddling their thumbs. Nowadays, most EU countries have regulated online gaming in their jurisdictions in one way or another. The European Union has 27 members, and the USA has 50 states. Sooner or later, we will have to find a way to catch up with all the laws and regulations coming our way. There is no longer an easy way out, nor one license to rule them all.
The situation with the online gambling regulation in Europe always reminded me of all the stereotypes we might have of certain countries. There is the Scandinavian block with strong and reputable operators who manage to handle their markets with great success. They are reliable but inflexible. Close to them is Germany, notorious for its bureaucracy. The Land of Poets and Thinkers took its time but managed to organize everything according to the highest standards.
Baltic countries copy their cool neighbors. Croatians (and trust me, I’m a Croatian writing from Croatia) decided to simply block every site not licensed by the Ministry of Finance. It’s our famous “we don’t negotiate with bullies” approach. I could go on for days, and yet the conclusion would always be the same. Local authorities are gaining more power every day.
So, where is the MGA in this situation? I already expressed my thoughts and feelings about MGA’s role in Europe. This once-premium authority has gotten quite a few smears on its reputation. I don’t think it will ever go away, but its role will diminish. No country wants to play according to someone else’s rules, nor does it want to leave taxes, job positions, and other things behind. The online gambling industry is too big of a deal to give up on it. Europe is experiencing the same thing as the United States, it’s just that we are talking about 27 countries, not 50. And just like the industry managed to adapt to many other things over the years, I believe we will also be able to adjust to the increasingly complex legal environment.
Ah yes, now it’s about time I tell you my prediction on how all this will affect us all. Well, firstly I hope all of us will have more work on our hands as everyone will have to comply with multiple sets of standards. By that, I mean operators, designers, writers, affiliates – literally every professional employed in the online gaming industry. Let us live long and prosper!
Second, some markets will experience a big exodus of brands. That will definitely happen once the authorities complete the initial stage of actually providing licenses, and switch their focus to prosecuting those that operate without it. From what I see, this will happen at different points in time in different countries. For instance, Scandinavia and the UK are already pretty successful in handing out fines like leaflets at a fair. However, the Netherlands will probably enter this era at some point in the next 3 to 5 years.
As far as the US goes, the more states that make a final call on online gambling, the less maneuvering space there will be for unlicensed casinos. Now that lawmakers are aware of the issue, I bet you they won’t miss out on the chance to tackle the wrongdoers. One more thing we can expect is the increased conscience of the American audience considering responsible gaming, legal practices, licenses, and safety.
Finally, we may witness the rise of LatAm and African markets. Those two have been considered the next big thing for at least the past 5 years. I honestly believe there is a solid business opportunity, but again, operators shouldn’t get too comfortable. The gaming industry is like a carousel – it keeps on spinning and markets evolve in pretty much the same way, albeit not at the same rate. What is an “easy” market today, like Europe or the US once was, may become a complex labyrinth in the future. Yet we all love this carousel so much, we don’t want to miss a single ride. We’ll keep riding it even if it makes us a bit dizzy from time to time.
This article delivers the thoughts and opinions of the author, and it doesn't represent the stance of GoodLuckMate.