Friday, February 23, 2024

iGaming’s Regulated Future with Johan Törnqvist

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As the company behind blockbuster slot games including Book of Dead, Play’n GO titles are enjoyed by online casino players in more than 25 regulated markets around the world, including the UK. Chief executive and co-founder Johan Törnqvist explains why sensible regulation is the only way to ensure a sustainable and safe future.

Q: Why has Play’n GO been so focused on regulated markets?

When we founded Play’n GO back in 2005, we weren’t imagining a multinational company with a team of more than 700 people. We were a group of online casino fans who just wanted to build great games. That was important because growth for growth’s sake was never the priority. We wanted to create entertaining games people could enjoy, and we understood that things like player safety, and taking the sustainable path, were non-negotiable if we were to achieve our goal.

The important thing for us is that the rest of the world has begun to catch up to this way of thinking, particularly over the last five to 10 years. When we started out, much of the industry viewed us as naive. They thought we were leaving value on the table, but there was always a bigger picture to consider here. We designed games to entertain, while others designed them to increase customer spending. Players, regulators and the public in markets across the globe have now made it noticeably clear which approach is acceptable.

Q: In your view, what does good iGaming regulation look like?

There’s no single answer to that. We’re active in more than 25 jurisdictions worldwide, and these are a disparate collection of places including the UK, Italy, Colombia and the state of New Jersey. You’ve got to take a local view on these things; mature markets such as the UK are going to require different things from its regulatory framework than an emerging market.

That said, there are certainly some guiding principles. Player safety needs to be at the forefront of everything. We’ve always considered that we have a duty of care to our players, and this should inform not just how an operator presents and markets itself, but also how we build our games.

Take one example, bonus buy games. These became popular in recent years, allowing people to buy directly into a bonus round. However, we didn’t see this as aligning with a sustainable and entertainment-first way to play, so we’ve never added the feature to our titles. Regulators in both the UK and the Netherlands have agreed with us and banned the features. Others will likely follow, but for us it’s about setting an example and doing the right thing regardless.

Q: Which regulated markets are you most excited about for 2023?

Everyone’s talking about North America right now, and for good reason. As more US states and Canadian provinces regulate, it will gradually shift the epicentre of the global online gaming industry. Last year, we entered both the US and Canada for the first time, and it is a priority to expand into more regulated markets across the region this year.

What’s also exciting now is that regulated markets are no longer the preserve of Europe. The entire world is waking up to the importance of introducing sensible iGaming legislation. Latin America is another important region, and we are already live in Colombia and Argentina. We’ll be watching other markets, particularly Brazil, in hope that they follow the lead. We want to help bring safe online casino entertainment to more people, wherever they may be living.

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