As Covid-19 is now in the ‘rear mirror’ for much of the world, the focus in 2023 for gaming technology testing service and consultancy Gaming Laboratories International LLC (GLI) will be connecting with clients face-to-face. That is according to James Maida (pictured), GLI’s president and chief executive. In an interview with GGRAsia, the veteran industry figure also talks about some of the technology trends in the gaming industry, from cashless gaming to cloud-based storage of player data.
GGRAsia: Cybersecurity in the gaming sector has been an area in which GLI has been quite active for nearly 10 years. What are the challenges and opportunities stemming from this area for the industry overall, including land-based casinos?
James Maida: At GLI, we have a cybersecurity company that we acquired in 2016 and is a fully-integrated part of GLI. While Bulletproof is the company’s name, it’s important for your readers to understand it isn’t a third-party vendor – it is a part of the GLI group and has extraordinarily strong offerings to help gaming companies protect themselves, including a security operations centre – which is commonly known as a SOC – a full range of managed services, and other essential services, such as security and penetration testing. Bulletproof has nearly 300 staff located worldwide working closely with our gaming customers to meet their cybersecurity needs.
Whether it’s online gaming, land-based casinos, or lotteries, the best approach is a proactive one, where cybersecurity defences are continually assessed and strengthened. Occasionally I hear someone say a good insurance policy is the first step in cybersecurity planning. While having insurance might help an operator recover a certain percentage of their hard costs, it will never help them recover reputational damage or lost data. We advise regulators, operators, and suppliers, to actively pursue the strongest possible cybersecurity defences.
As the industry’s technology becomes digitised, and gaming commerce becomes digitalised, how does that affect GLI’s work?
Technological advances don’t impact our work – they make it more fun. They allow our engineers to learn new things every day. What non-engineers might not know about engineers is we love to take things apart, and when new technologies come along, that means every day there is something different to consider, examine, take apart, and put back together.
When you take a step back, it’s easy to see the gaming industry has become more digital with each passing year. Today, our test engineers can test anything and everything that comes our way, digital and land-based, and we encourage all engineers to learn it all so they can do it all.
What’s interesting in the purely digital space is that digital content can come at us much quicker. That’s why we scaled up our testing staff, and today we have more than 1,000 people in our testing group. This means we are always on time, on budget, and delivering at the highest levels of quality for our clients.
We will continue to do whatever it takes to add to our staffing levels to ensure the industry is never waiting on us.
What expectations do you have regarding legalisation of casino gaming in Thailand? What do you foresee to be the main points of legislation and regulation in that country?
As an independent test lab, we operate in jurisdictions worldwide, providing insight and assistance to regulators and policymakers as they consider the path forward. Specific to GGRAsia readers, we are at the forefront, working alongside legislators and regulators throughout the Asia-Pacific region. We have worked and will continue to work closely with regulators in jurisdictions to help them understand the possibilities, risks, and best practices to continue to ensure the industry’s strength and stability.
Land-based casino operators are seeing increased compliance requirements in Asia-Pacific jurisdictions. That includes not only in the Philippines and in Macau, but also in places such as Cambodia or Vietnam. What are the key challenges and opportunities with regard to that trend?
Operators and jurisdictions evolve, and that means gaming compliance is a process. Oftentimes, regulators and operators start with the basic building blocks of compliance as required by law. Then as new threats become known, they seek to enhance their compliance programmes, so we work with them throughout that compliance journey and that process. Whether it’s required compliance or enhanced compliance strategies and programmes, we help companies with both.
In terms of new technology and gaming products making their way into land-based casinos, what are the strongest trends, based on GLI’s extensive insights as a provider of technical compliance and end-to-end testing for a range of manufacturers and jurisdictions?
One interesting trend that started in Asia and is now becoming popular around the world is live dealer and stadium-style seating. That’s just one example of how our industry truly is a global one, and jurisdictions can learn from each other and make the entire industry better.
Another trend that is growing everywhere is the use of digital wallets and cashless gaming. Digital wallets are good options for casinos to offer players, because consumers are using them in other industries, so the gaming industry would be wise to offer the option.
Last, we are starting to see a migration from on-property data storage and solutions to more of a cloud-based situation. This may be especially important for enterprise operators, because when the data is stored locally, it presents challenges in accessing that data across the organisation.
A cloud storage situation can provide cross-access and information building so operators have a more complete view of player activity and can reward play more appropriately. This becomes even more relevant when you add both land-based and online gaming to the mix. All that activity creates a wealth of data and operators having the ability to access their data more broadly and more quickly will be a competitive advantage, as long as the proper cybersecurity safeguards are in place.
What are GLI’s key goals and expectations for 2023? What is GLI’s development strategy for Asia?
We are more focused than ever on meeting with clients face-to-face, whether that’s at trade shows or in their office. Our team of consultants are out there on a global basis like they have never been before, ensuring we understand our clients’ needs today and where they want to go in the future.
We continue to execute our work on time, on budget, and with the highest quality, while we continue to add additional delivery resources to stay ahead of any demand that comes as markets recover. We do all this not to meet our goals or expectations – we do it to ensure we meet our client’s goals and expectations, because that’s what keeps the industry strong and vibrant in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world.
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