Having been granted approval by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to expand business deals with operators in the Garden State, Gambling.com CEO Charles Gillespie shares his experience of the licensing process with SBC Americas and talks about what it means for the company.
SBC Americas: How difficult was the license application process? What were the real pain points and what would be your advice to anyone thinking of applying?
Charles Gillespie: The licensing process is not difficult per se but tedious. The fees are immaterial, the real cost is in the time and effort required to corral all of the documents and forms together. The entity applying for the license has a form to complete, then there are additional forms for the holding company and any important people behind the business such as senior leadership or major shareholders. The personal history disclosure forms are serious business, mine ran to 223 pages and that was just one of around 10 different forms that were part of our submission!
The questions were surprising to me as it has everything to do with the legal history of the group and people behind it. At no point did they ever ask if we had worked with offshore operators taking illegal US business, which would have probably been the first question I would have asked as a regulator. That said we have met the DGE and they know us well enough to understand that isn’t the kind of business we operate.
My advice to anyone applying would be give it to someone on your team who is very organized and tell them they own it. They will then inform themselves of everything required and chase down all of the documents from various parties until the submission is complete. A strong local partner to guide you through the process doesn’t hurt either, but strictly speaking is not required.
SBCA: On the news of your license approval, you stated that it would increase your exposure to the lucrative New Jersey market. Could you expand on that?
CG: With pure CPA business your exposure to any given market is limited and essentially ends when you stop sending players. By sending players to partners on commercial agreements that have revenue share components, those deals are for the long-term and increase your exposure to any given market. I like the idea of US revenue share as it is different in a few key respects than your traditional non-US revenue share: it is protected with proper contracts, the regulator is way more hands on and won’t tolerate any funny business and the player values are higher than elsewhere.
SBCA: You say that New Jersey is currently the most interesting market. As other states continue to come online do you anticipate broadening out your reach beyond the Garden State?
CG: Absolutely, we are putting in a foundation for growth across all of the states which we expect to have a viable online gambling market in the future. We anticipate filing applications in all such states for whatever license is required of affiliates and are already working on our next batch of applications after New Jersey.
SBCA: What has your first year in New Jersey been like and what have you learned from your experience?
CG: We are seeing better results than we would normally expect given the short period of time we have been in the market. That said our NJ numbers are small compared to our European business. The biggest US affiliates have been in the game for over 5 years at this point and there is a certain momentum to taking new markets. We have pointed the oil-tanker that is Gambling.com at the New Jersey market and there is little that will stop it now.