Continent 8: Canada is key to our North American expansion plans

The Canadian market has been the talk of the town since Ontario opened its doors to a regulated gambling framework last year. And since then, we’ve seen a number of companies look to get in on the action – one of which has been Continent 8.

Michael Tobin, CEO & Founder of Continent 8, discusses the opportunities within this market and the precautions that gaming companies need to take to protect themselves from cyber security threats.

SBC Americas: Continent 8 has been operational in Canada for some time now – what have been some of the key learnings that you’ve taken from this market so far? And have these lessons shaped your strategy in other regions at all?

MT: Over the years we have strengthened our presence in Canada via data centers in Montreal and Toronto, while continuing to expand internationally – today, we have over 95 connected locations spanning four continents. 

In Canada, our offering has evolved in line with the developments the market has experienced over the years. The opening of Ontario in April last year is a good example. This saw us roll out our Public Cloud offering in the province as a response to customer demand for cutting-edge cloud solutions. Canada is key to our wider growth plans for North America while being a significant market in its own right. 

In terms of the lessons that have shaped our strategies in North America and beyond, there are learnings that can be taken from every market. Of course, it is important to recognize that each jurisdiction is different, certainly when it comes to regulations and compliance. But this is something that we are experienced in and know how to navigate having been the igaming industry’s trusted infrastructure partner for 25 years. 

This has enabled us to take a first-to-market approach in North America, allowing our partners to get the jump on their rivals by taking advantage of the significant upsides that come with being able to go live from day one. 

SBC Americas: What role do these data centers in Canada play in your expansion across North America?

MT: These locations are part of a wider ecosystem that allows us to deliver our solutions globally via one interconnected network. Our aim is to provide operators and suppliers with a one-stop-shop for their infrastructure requirements and our industry-leading connected network is what allows us to do this. 

We are currently at over 95 locations but will likely surpass 100 this year with additional North American launches in Nevada for example. 

SBC Americas: From your experience, what would you say are the most important checks and balances that must be in place for gaming companies when it comes to cybersecurity and risk management?

MT: The online gambling industry is one of the most attacked, and operators and suppliers need to be prepared for this. Our data shows that the volume and sophistication of attacks are increasing, so it’s vital for organizations to take a multi-layered approach to cyber security. 

This means they are protecting themselves against all of the attacks they can be subject to – DDoS, Ransomware, Phishing, Credential Stuffing, etc – with more than one line of defense in place for each. This includes DDoS and WAAP protection as well as MDR/EDR and SIEM/SOC solutions. Of course, this must be underpinned by a comprehensive cyber security policy and regular staff training – employees can be where organizations are most vulnerable. 

SBC Americas: Have you found that there are any potential cyber threats that are often overlooked by gaming companies entering a new market? 

MT: The vast majority of organizations are aware of the cyber threats they face and then come to us to help them put the right protections in place. One thing that does set this industry apart from others is the number of third parties that a business connects with – this is certainly the case for operators who work with all sorts of suppliers from payment providers to game studios, player behavior monitoring solutions, and more. 

This can make businesses even more vulnerable to attack, with the suppliers they connect with acting as a back door into their systems and networks. All businesses in all sectors are at risk of this, but this industry’s reliance on third parties makes operators especially vulnerable. 

SBC Americas: And how does Continent 8 support its partners in mitigating these threats?  

MT: Taking a multi-layered approach to cyber security will mostly mitigate this risk but it’s also important to understand the protections that the suppliers the operator works with have in place, too. This is why we work hand in hand with each customer to understand their business and their risk exposure and then put a bespoke suite of protections in place that aligns with their specific risk profile. 

This tailored approach is what has seen us become the go-to infrastructure provider for the industry, including 85% of those on the EGR Power US Ranking for 2023. 

SBC Americas: As more gaming companies begin to enter the Canadian market, what lies on the horizon for Continent 8? Can we expect expansion into new provinces /more hubs?

MT: We will continue to expand our network across North America so that we can not only meet but exceed the needs of our customers. We are always improving our suite of solutions so that they are one step ahead of the ever-changing landscape that organizations operate in, while also working closely with regulators in the states and provinces on the cusp of launching their markets so that we can keep deploying our first to market approach across Canada, the US and beyond.