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AKAMAI TECHNOLOGIES


Online Gambling Prioritising Security in a Changing Landscape


Paul Jackson, Software Engineer at Akamai Technologies, explains how – by prioritising security – expansion into the New World can prove to be a monumental opportunity.


T


he online gambling industry is experiencing an exceptional period of growth, driven by new


technologies that not only move traditional gaming experiences (sports betting, casino games, lotteries, and so on) online, but offer new formats and engaging, personalised experiences for players. Also driving growth are regulatory changes, opening new markets for operators. In the US, recent changes have enabled individual states to legalise sports betting, with 13 states currently doing so. Of these, six allow online wagers to be placed. In May 2019, Nevada – until recently the traditional and only home of legal betting in the US – was overtaken by New Jersey in money placed on sports bets. This success will likely inspire other states to follow suit. The race to capitalise on this growing market and gain market share will be won by companies that are agile and resilient enough to deliver on this future demand.


THE BATTLE FOR EMERGING MARKETS


As operators eye up new opportunities in emerging markets, it’s worth taking example from UK digital gaming vendors when it comes to delivering secure and compliant online gaming experiences at scale. The UK has an established iGaming market, as well as a strict regulatory environment, meaning they are well positioned to seize new opportunities and easily navigate the compliance landscape. British gambling vendors, for example, are already compliant with GDPR regulations, which helps them to keep their customer data locked down and protected. Already well- established and secure, UK companies are better equipped to replicate their core operations in new markets, adapting and tweaking them around local regulations and consumer preferences.


There are so many opportunities for vendors to come up with innovative online gaming formats in emerging markets, but they need to make sure they’re not caught off


66 DECEMBER 2019 GIO


ranging from card details to home addresses. DDoS attacks pose another risk to online operators as these make networks unavailable by flooding the host with thousands of requests, rendering sites slow and ultimately inaccessible. With online vendors running live operations, 24 hours a day, just one-minute of downtime can lead to lost revenue totalling over $100,000.


guard by the evolving compliance landscape in the process. As in the US, where gambling regulations are inconsistent across states, new restrictions can pop up, resulting in massive fines and lost revenue opportunities. Even the more established players have been guilty of complacency when moving to emerging markets. No matter how big the company or how long its history, vendors must take a cautious approach to compliance, before setting up shop.


WHERE THERE’S MONEY, THERE ARE HACKERS


Today’s iGaming operators are akin to banks, responsible for protecting their customers’ passwords, personal details and the real- money funds floating in their accounts. With a market value set to break $60 billion globally by 2020, it’s no wonder they’re an enticing target for opportunistic hackers. One major form of threat to online gambling vendors is credential stuffing, whereby cyber-criminals attempt to hijack accounts by using stolen or generated usernames and passwords. Hackers use botnets (a network of compromised computing devices with co-opted processing power) or all-in-one-applications to steal customers’ sensitive information – this is a massive threat in the digital age, as vendors are now responsible for an array of data,


PRIORITISING SECURITY IN A CHANGING LANDSCAPE Ultimately, frustrating online experiences, or the failure to secure users’ sensitive data, results in a loss of trust and major reputational damage. Customers can be fickle and, with the average gamer owning three online betting accounts, they are more than willing to abandon their accounts and take their business elsewhere.


While tech can open operators to cyber- risk, it also offers solutions to mitigate it. AI can help firms trace suspicious activity such as fraud, match-fixing and bot transactions. By automating security processes, this improves scalability and the response time when monitoring threats. In addition, blockchain offers significant security advantages over many existing end-to-end transaction systems by completely decentralising sensitive information and making it harder for hackers to locate data.


When setting up in new markets, newcomers and legacy vendors both need to be agile in order to be competitive and shape their business to suit different markets. Nonetheless, they should do this in a thoughtful and balanced way, prioritising security in the process. If they tick all these boxes, then the expansion into the New World will prove to be a monumental opportunity.


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