Getting to know: Susan O’Leary

CEO of Alderney eGambling, Susan O’Leary, talks SPiCE 2019 and shares her vision of the gaming industry.


usan O’Leary is the CEO of Alderney eGambling, the Alderney regulator’s strategic and development body. As a lawyer, she represented some of the world’s leading eGambling operators and gambling service providers including many of Alderney’s licensees. She has a keen sense of what they require from a jurisdiction: a strong pragmatic regulator who understands the commercial environment, a resilient technical infrastructure, a favourable tax system, excellent support services and an approach that encourages businesses to grow and prosper within safe and responsible parameters.

How did you find your start in the industry and how did you arrive at your current position? Susan: I moved to Guernsey from Dublin as a finance lawyer over 10 years ago and observed that most gaming related legal work was being referred to a few niche practices in London. Alderney is part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey and it made no sense to me why London lawyers were leading this work or at least why local firms were not involved in some capacity as the legal structure is different. I set up the eGaming team for the law firm I was with and immersed myself in this thriving sector. The industry was smaller then and everyone knew everyone, so I quickly made contacts, got to know the other lawyers, service providers, industry and got to grips with the sector. I worked with the other service providers for a lot of the Alderney licensees for many years subsequently and then was persuaded to join Alderney eGambling in 2015 and haven’t looked back! There is a saying that once you are in gaming you’re always in gaming, there is no escape! Once you’re in, you’re in!

What do you think the Indian gaming industry will look like in five years?

I personally am opposed to a quota system as a tool for increased diversity

72 MARCH 2019 CIO

Susan: I am excited to see which direction the Indian gaming industry will go; the potential is immense. A lot will depend on the collective of law makers, governments and regulators as to how it evolves. There is no doubt that the gaming industry will continue to grow and develop, especially with technological advancements and ease of access. If regulation is ignored, growth will continue regardless it just means that players are not as protected as they could be, businesses will be driven further underground as opposed to being

encouraged to develop and prosper in line with internationally recognised best practice and the economy does not benefit as much as contributions, taxes and fees are difficult to collect.

I’m optimistic that the sector is growing in the right direction. At the 2018 Eventus Sports Betting and Gaming India Conference, I was honoured to meet the founders of so many successful businesses in India in the gaming space and delighted to observe that most were pro-responsible gambling and building their businesses around regulatory frameworks – essentially self-regulated. This is admirable, especially if there is no pressure or obligation from government or regulators. It is clear that Indian gaming businesses want to be the best and understand to achieve this there needs to be procedures in place for the long-term sustainability of the sector as opposed to the “quick buck” you can see in so many other pre-regulated environments. There is a different feel to the Indian gaming market than others. The technical know-how and economic growth is on an upward trajectory in India. Connectivity is at an all-time high. The Indian population embrace gaming as a form of entertainment, they are passionate about their sports like cricket, as such, this sector is only going to grow, let’s hope it’s in line with best practice and in a safe and responsible manner for all.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be and why?

Susan: One thing we are working hard on globally is changing the perception of the sector. Many perceive gambling and anything related to the sector as illicit or immoral. Even among the Indian market, where the industry is seeing exponential growth, the concept of ‘gambling’ is slightly taboo, as backed up by legislation, with skill games being preferred. Although, the line is increasingly blurred between what constitutes games of skill versus games of chance and there is a lack of consistency in interpretation. There are many religious, political and social connotations to the industry. Yet if practised within safe parameters, in a well-regulated environment, adopting best practices, both gaming and gambling can be enjoyable forms of entertainment. There are many positives to the sector; it can raise sizeable revenues for social projects, the technology is sophisticated and ever evolving (and transferable to many other sectors) and the industry tends to be innovative (when allowed) and reinvent itself

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