Steve Donoughue: "A well-regulated and taxable industry is the best development option"
Running a gambling business abroad not knowing the subtleties of its legislative regulation in a specific country is a huge risk for an entrepreneur. To avoid negative consequences, you should always consult industry experts.
One of them is Steve Donoughue, a consultant on business strategies and policies in the gambling industry. We talked to him about the specifics of his work, unusual situations with customers, and discussed which countries have the most loyal policy towards gambling business.
- Steve! Could you please tell us about your responsibilities as a business strategies and policy consultant for the gambling industry?
- I do four types of work.
I am a management consultant who specializes in gambling. I do strategic work for operators, such as casino feasibility studies, white papers and market entry strategies. I also provide licensing and compliance advice, so I help people get online gambling licenses in the UK and then advise them on how to stay compliant with UK regulations.
I am also in my final year as a PhD student and I am writing about the Gambling Act 2005, which is the law that governs Britain's gambling industry, why it happened and the impact it has had. I've been researching it for four years and I’m writing the final chapter.
I am the Secretariat of the Parliamentary All Party Betting & Gaming Group. This means I look after 40 members of the British Parliament who are interested in gambling. I arrange a series of seminars that are held in Parliament where we get members of the industry and associated stakeholders to discuss topics of interest to do with gambling in front of an invited audience of Parliamentarians and members of the UK gambling industry.
- Over the 20 years of experience, what were the most controversial events that you've encountered during your work?
- The really controversial stuff is kept secret. A management consultant is like a doctor and keeps his clients' secrets secret!
The most interesting work I do is when I am advising governments as then you are dealing with the very heart of the big issues about gambling: How much? What kind? Who can provide? Who will regulate it and how? You usually only have one go at it because governments have bigger priorities than just gambling and then there is always the fun of dealing with the anti-gamblers.
- Are there any organizations that you'd particularly like to work with in the future?
- I would love to work with governments in Eastern Europe because I find the countries fascinating and the people so much fun.
I also like working with governments in the Caribbean!
- In your opinion, what European country has the most gambling-friendly policy?
- I think the UK is probably one of the best of the big countries but it is getting less gambling-friendly. The wonderful thing about gambling politics is that things never stay the same. It’s like a pendulum, some years countries love gambling, some years they hate it. It depends on the relationships the gambling industry has with the government and also how much gambling has become a political issue.
Small countries, like Malta, which have a large proportion of their economy based on gambling, will always be gambling-friendly.
- And if we're talking about the whole world?
- Fortunately, for our business the majority of the world is still developing when it comes to gambling. This doesn't particularly mean they're gambling-friendly, just that there are opportunities out there. Hopefully, countries realize that having well-regulated and taxed gambling industries is the best way forward.
- What interesting issues will you be addressing as part of your presentation at Riga Gaming Congress?
- I hope all I have to say will be of interest! I will be comparing Latvian regulation with the UK and, hopefully, showing how both countries can learn from each other.