However, he cautioned that US states should learn from Europe that compliance rules should be “strict but not strangling” as overzealous regulations can sometimes do more harm than good.
On a general level, what do you make of the compliance landscape as we approach the end of 2021?
A very interesting one. We are living in one of the most significant times of the industry when compliance is concerned. Many of those who have been in the industry for some time can look back, and clearly state that much has changed.
From perception to methods, we are witnessing an era of responsibility, and most importantly, accountability. It is a pleasurable era to be working in, to be honest. It is challenging and rewarding at the same time.
We are seeing markets that were pioneers in the regulation and in the compliance front, tightening their grip, markets that are redefining their rulings, adjusting and improving for the benefit of their realities, and markets that are just entering the compliance and legal scene. We are also seeing a common effort to ‘clean the house’, to bring the industry to its best, and to allow it to give back what it can give the best: responsible and healthy moments of pure entertainment.
It is no secret that Clever feels comfortable working in the regulated markets and right in the middle of compliance rulings and restrictions, and we defend that this is the way to go. But we also know there are moments that are very difficult to handle and to overcome, but compliance is not supposed to be easy, and here at Clever, we have a strong, competent, and savvy team that thrives with these moments. And good for us, because we do not see the compliance landscape mellow down any time soon.
Are regulators running the risk of ‘turning’ those that are pro-regulation by making demands too onerous?
That certainly is a very good question. Every measure and action must be adapted to each reality. Compliance ruling should be strict but not strangling. It must allow the market to breathe, to grow.
We are strong believers that regulators should invest in consumer protection and ensure that they have access to a fair market, with quality products and solid support. Not only the consumers, but also companies and governmental parties should be able to operate in a safe and responsible environment.
But sometimes, overzealous regulations can do more harm than good, like the case of Spain with advertising restrictions that have likely created more space for unlicensed operators, and Germany that is seeing an exodus of well-established companies in the market due to restricting regulations.
Have there been any examples where Clever has pulled out of a market due to compliance demands?
I am proud to answer with a solid ‘no. We have left some markets, not because of compliance demands but simply because the commercial scale weighted too heavily for us to keep performing in that market.
In the end, we are a performance media buying agency and if we are not allowed to perform to the best of our services and abilities, we must be able to focus our attention on other markets where we can be at our best. Spain, again, is a good example.
We have worked in that market since immemorial, but we cannot show our ads within a time frame that is needed to excel. It does not matter how compliant we are with the Spanish legal landscape, the services that we offer are not compatible with the regulations.
Given the trend of stricter regulation across so many igaming hotspots, do you feel more confident as a media buyer than a website owner?
The world is a big place and performance advertising has its moments in the curve of a product/service. 90% of the time our services are essential and indispensable for the acquisition, like entering a new market, a new brand, securing market shares.
But positioning, retention, and branding play their part too, and we supply that demand through our content portfolio. We use our products and services according to our clients’ needs and the market cycles, and we excel while performing within regulation and compliance requirements.
As Senior Legal Counsel, what does 2022 look like for you? What will be your biggest projects in the year ahead?
I think 2022 will be defined by two words: ‘opportunity’ and ‘challenge’.
Opportunity because we have a track record of entering new markets and we are engaged with the US market entry, and due to its size and singularities it will mean an extraordinary source of opportunity, and challenge because we are expecting high regulatory work, barriers to overcome, and problems to solve by entering that market, adding to the existing jurisdictions load of our current markets like the European, the Latin American, and the African. It will be a very interesting year.