International edition
June 25, 2021

Karen Sierra-Hughes, GLI Director for LatAm and the Caribbean

"iGaming and sports wagering will be the two most significant topics at FADJA 2019"

"We see a lot of potential in that Colombia is continuing to build a robust industry around iGaming with an open licensing regime," Karen Sierra-Hughes commented.
Colombia | 03/26/2019

Ahead of the upcoming Colombian gaming trade show, Gaming Laboratories International's Karen Sierra-Hughes spoke to Yogonet about the company's expectations for this year's edition, as well as her view on the LatAm igaming market.

K

aren Sierra-Hughes, GLI Director for LatAm and the Caribbean was interviewed by Yogonet to discuss the company's presence at FADJA 2019, which is scheduled to take place across April 10-11 at the Corferias Convention Center in Bogotá, Colombia.

What are your expectations for FADJA 2019, regarding the number of visitors, new deals, networking, and partnerships? Which are the main topics you think visitors will be looking to talk to GLI about, especially regarding emerging markets in LatAm?

We are excited to once again be participating in one of the region’s most prestigious and important events for the gaming industry. This year is especially noteworthy as we both celebrate and acknowledge our 30th anniversary as the world’s premier independent testing and certification laboratory. We not only look forward to welcoming many of our existing friends and clients to GLI’s booth #46A, but also eagerly anticipate introducing many new attendees who may not be familiar with our portfolio of superior world-class online, land-based, and lottery services.

We believe that two of the most significant topics on the minds of attendees at this year’s show will be online gaming (iGaming) and sports wagering. In Colombia, as well as throughout the region, online gaming continues to predominate as a key driver of potential gaming opportunities and revenues. As the leader in interactive gaming testing, consultancy, and thought-leadership, we are well-positioned to offer regulators, operators, and suppliers attending this year’s show our deep understanding and expertise in iGaming to help propel them toward success.

This is also true of our extensive sports wagering experience. For the past 30 years, we have been working with jurisdictions around the world to develop and implement sports wagering, both from a regulatory and an operational standpoint. Take, for example, our recently released GLI-33 Event Wagering Systems Technical Standard which is the world’s first such standard, developed in consultation with the global sports-wagering community, to establish a clear and cohesive technical framework to help regulate and/or implement sports wagering activities throughout the world.

We have also shared a variety of resources to enhance regulators’, operators’, and suppliers’ understanding of the complexities, challenges, and opportunities presented by the growth of sports wagering both globally and in the U.S. These included a two-part white paper on sports betting in the post-PASPA era, as well as informative online webinar featuring our team of sports wagering subject-matter experts. The whitepaper was also translated into Spanish and is available for request on our website gliespanol.com.

Will you organize or attend any parallel activities before, during or after FADJA?

Yes. Georges Didier, our Latin America Government Relations and Business Development based in Lima, will be speaking about virtual sports betting on April 11th at the Summit LatAm Colombia conference. This conference is taking place at the same venue as FADJA, and is part of the show program.

Has Colombia's iGaming market become a point of reference for the rest of the region? What achievements and further challenges can you identify in that jurisdiction?

We see a lot of potential in that Colombia is continuing to build a robust industry around iGaming with an open licensing regime. For the past two years, we have seen multiple licensed operators develop a deeper understanding of player preferences and, therefore, are now able to provide very valuable feedback to the regulators so they can consider changes and updates to regulations to provide more options and choices for the players.

From a regulatory perspective, COLJUEGOS started a new program this year called “JUEGALAB.” A meeting was held last March with operators and other interested parties of the Colombia industry, to share proposals for new games to be allowed in this jurisdiction. We were delighted to have participated in this meeting and we see these types of exchanges of information as very beneficial for the industry; especially when it’s a forum where all interested parties can both listen to and participate in what will be coming in terms of new developments affecting the future of the industry. We are pleased to be able to contribute to this growing dialogue that is an important tool for operators to be more successful.

GLI provides a variety of testing, certification, assessment, and professional consultancy services in the areas of online, lottery, and land-based gaming throughout Colombia. We hope that this year will see more jurisdictions that will regulate these operations, which will mean more opportunities for expansion and success for suppliers and operators.

What further advances in cybersecurity do you think should be necessary facing the growing and dynamic online gaming? How could GLI contribute in that sense?

In an online gaming operation, cybersecurity definitely is crucial and it’s noteworthy to acknowledge that Colombia is the one jurisdiction in Latin America that calls out specific security requirements as part of its certification process. This includes ISS requirements for the certification of online gaming and pari-mutuel sports betting.

We might add that there is a distinct difference between the security operators and vendors must follow in terms of complying with regulations and the security protocols they should follow to protect their operations and ensure business continuity. It’s important to note that regulators will be looking to protect the players and the revenue that’s generated in taxes. On the other hand, operators should be concerned about their business continuity and protection of their operations. Cybersecurity threats affect the health of their business, as well as the confidence of the wagering public. In other words, operators, regulators, and suppliers all share an interest in the foundational fairness of gaming which is central to the ongoing success and legitimacy of this form of business.

This is especially relevant when considering the impact of cybersecurity issues on sports wagering and iGaming activities throughout the region. One might argue that ignoring the potential pitfalls of a lapse of cybersecurity could certainly adversely impact iGaming and sports betting operators.

We must first acknowledge that breaches in cybersecurity can come from internal, as well as external sources. Performing network risk assessments, take ethical hacking and penetration testing as an example, are a critical first step in an overall cybersecurity strategy. They can help regulators, operators, and suppliers mitigate risk and limit unnecessary exposure by helping to identify common software vulnerabilities.

Ultimately, retailers and players must both be equally protected, which is why an independent review of security operations, programs, and controls is essential. For this reason, regulators, operators, and suppliers do indeed have a shared interest in maintaining the fairness of the game for everyone by instituting a strategy of comprehensive cybersecurity countermeasures.

GLI has a vast team of cybersecurity experts located in all the regions of the world, that are not only experienced about security but also understand the gaming and lottery industry. Our proven and effective cybersecurity services are not only offered for the regulatory compliance process, but also to those who want to protect their business and their revenue by investing in a reliable and proven team of experts.

Could you detail your current presence in LatAm, and also specifically in Colombia, and your expectations for the region throughout this year?

We have been collaborating with regulators in Colombia and working with the industry not only as it regards certification of online gaming, but also for the certification of land-based and lottery requirements for many years. We look forward to continuing to support their mission and objectives as we do with every single regulator in Latin America and the Caribbean. We are both happy and thankful to be part of this process and we deeply appreciate the trust that regulators have placed in us and our decades of experience. In terms of operators and suppliers, we are also very thankful for them choosing our services and that we are active partners in their success; not only in Colombia but in any jurisdiction in the world that they are looking to enter. We are excited for what is yet to come.

 

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