GDPR: A timely upgrade for the industry

GDPR's foregrounding of player and data protection standards is a timely step in the right direction for the industry, argues Malcolm Campbell


Nektan's head of compliance Malcolm Campbell explains why he sees GDPR's foregrounding of player and data protection standards as a necessary and timely step in the right direction for the industry

The most significant changes to data privacy laws in recent years came into force in late May when GDPR finally became a reality across Europe.

Its enforcement on 25 May had an instant impact. A number of high-profile US news websites became temporarily unavailable to European users after the new rules came into effect, while complaints were also filed against several tech giants just hours after the changes were enforced.

While the initial effect of GDPR on the igaming industry may not be so obvious just yet, there’s no doubt the new regulations will have widespread impact on how we all manage private player information, moving forward.

Much has been discussed about the way in which GDPR will change the way operators approach their marketing strategies. However, it’s important to point out that the new regulations will have affected every area of our industry, because data relates to everything we do and touches every aspect of our business. Those older, larger organisations are likely to have been hit the hardest in the lead up to May’s enforcement date. Every division will have been overhauled no doubt, to ensure they are compliant with the new requirements, with rising costs affecting both external and internal resources.

From proprietary products, including technology innovations, to people and data, every employee will need to be aware and vigilant of handling data going forward. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has been very transparent on its approach to the enforcement of GDPR, something that the iGaming industry has been made very aware of. The ISO statements on imposing hefty fines on companies that are non-compliant are clear. Over the last 12 months, the four-letter abbreviation will have been met with dread in some quarters. That said, however, the key is understanding that the compliance measures surrounding the new regulations will ultimately deliver benefits for the industry and its customers.

We are a consumer-facing industry, which means we have a responsibility to protect the end user when dealing with the data they provide us with. GDPR will strengthen the industry’s ability to do just that, by creating standards and procedures we must all uphold.

Transparency is key. From the way we handle data management for audit trail clarity, to improving communications with third-party suppliers in order to avoid message ambiguity.

Operational transparency will inevitably establish a culture of openness to ensure there are no uncertainties with regards to the data a company holds and how it is managed. The igaming industry landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace, resulting in a need to ensure adaptations regarding player protections. GDPR has forced lots of gambling organisations to consider their responsibility on how they manage player data, which is a very positive move.

However, as with all industries, there will no doubt be some companies which could be doing more to protect their players. As a relatively young company, Nektan prides itself on its well-established culture of transparency, which has been at the heart of our operations since inception in 2014. GDPR however, has allowed us to improve our back-end functions and user settings further, without experiencing any partner resistance.

We have had an open approach to working with our operator partners throughout the entire process, delivering transparent compliance and legal ownership.

As a result of GDPR, stakeholders across the entire igaming landscape are now in tune, more than ever, with the regulatory requirements and complexities involved in operating casino sites.

It’s imperative everyone working within the industry keeps abreast of regulatory changes and has a clear understanding of the latest privacy laws to ensure they are aware of how they will manifest themselves operationally within their offerings.

While it is essential that the industry innovates, it should not be at the expense of protecting player data. Media scrutiny is at an all-time high with regulatory bodies keeping a close eye on those who cross the legal threshold. Regulations and standards are to be embraced. The end goal has to be to provide a safe, robust and enjoyable gaming experience within a compliant and secure environment for all players.

Now that GDPR has been enforced, we are heading in the right direction to ensure player and data protection is at the forefront of what we all do.