Continent 8: Fighting cybercrime at the heart of managing US growth

By Gambling Insider

Nick Nally, Managing Director – Americas, Continent 8, takes stock and reflects on US opportunities and cyber threats. This article was originally published in the May/June edition of Gambling Insider magazine.

The current hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic gives us a chance to take stock and position now for the future. In the world of online sports betting and casinoweve seen a complete reversal of fortunes in the activity of the two bedfellows over the past few weeks with sports events being cancelled globally, and corresponding betting activity coming to a grinding halt. This has provided an opportunity for online casino and poker as an alternative outlet for some. But is the USA ready?  

Missed opportunity? 

Its almost two years since the repeal of PASPA and theres been an unprecedented wave of activity in the US to bring online sports betting to the market. In its haste, though, an opportunity may have been missed in some states to bring forward regulations for online casino and poker alongside sports betting regulations. With some very successful models in states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, now is possibly the perfect time to consider the introduction of such legislation or to fast-track existing legislation. Theres a window of opportunity for the States and this unfortunate pause may be the right time to act – especially when some industry leaders are predicting the US market will hit $8billion by 2025. 

Cybercrime 

While the sports betting industry may be taking an unwelcome break, cybercriminals are more active than ever, with national cybersecurity agencies in Europe and the USA warning of threats posed by criminal gangs and state-backed hackers. The outbreak of COVID-19 has seen an unprecedented number of attacks against all types of businesses and organisations, preying on people’s vulnerabilities and fears. The global concentration around this pandemic has shifted focus and the movement towards working from home has provided weak points in systems criminals are happy to exploit. We have seen a notable increase in attacks against the online gambling industry in the past few days and weeks. 

In the US, the legalised online sports betting market is still, to a large degree, a nascent market despite being almost two years old. The number of states going online is increasing rapidly but there is still only a modest proportion of the population that can legally bet online. The US market is predicted to grow exponentially over the next few years with an ever-increasing amount of confidential data being held in-state by licensees and operators. Sports betting companies have always been targeted by hackers and cyber criminals, but the advent of huge corporate brands into this space makes it inevitable theyll become the focus of large-scale attacks and ransomware demands. 

There are industry and corporate responsibility concerns regarding the protection of this data and its incumbent upon all stakeholders to work together to this end. Within the online gambling market its critical that licensees, operators, service providers, data center providers and, most importantly, regulators act together to ensure the integrity of the industry. Now is the time for this sector to put in place the building blocks to grow into the future. 

Protecting customers’ data 

At the heart of this should be protection of customers’ data. To this end, regulators need to know where bets are placed, where the data resides and examine whether there are appropriate practices and safeguards in place. While licensees and operators should be ensuring they meet these criteria, its essential regulators demand rigorous and internationally recognised standards when it comes to this area. For data centers, there are a number of security and compliance standards that a provider should meet as a minimum, such as ISO 27001, SSAE 18 SOC 1 & 2 and PCI DSS. 

These, coupled with a range of security products, ensure customers are well prepared for what seems like an inevitable onslaught of attacks now and in the future. In the US market, we work with a number of partners to ensure all data centers we offer meet the above standards. In addition, we provide an expanding range of security offerings including DDoS detection and mitigation and WAF to complement the above standards. 

So, while the US overall is certainly one of the fastest-growing and biggest-expanding markets in gaming, fighting cybercrime and the protection of customer data are at the heart of managing this growth effectively. 

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