Richard Wiliamson talks to Intergaming
Please provide a brief overview of your company and its services.
BMM is the longest established and most experienced private independent gaming certification lab in the world, providing professional technical and regulatory compliance services to the gaming industry since 1981.
At its core, BMM is a systems-expert company that has provided consulting for and tested many of the largest gaming networks and systems over the last 30 years. In addition BMM has been successfully testing and certifying the full scope of Class III casino products for over two decades. BMM authored the first set of independent Australian gaming standards in 1992 and the first set of online gaming standards in 2001.BMM employs over 200 people in 12 countries and operates 11 gaming labs. BMM serves over 400 jurisdictions.
BMM’s world headquarters are in Las Vegas (USA), with offices in Mexico City (Mexico), Lima (Peru), Melbourne and Sydney (Australia), Singapore, Macau (SAR, China), Busan (South Korea), Barcelona (Spain), Graz (Austria), Rome (Italy) and Midrand (South Africa).
1. Generally speaking, what are the key considerations when testing new gaming equipment?
The key consideration for an Accredited Testing Facilitiy (ATF) when testing any gaming equipment is accuracy and reliability in the test results. ATFs are entrusted by regulators to verify that all tested gaming products adhere to the respective technical standards or regulations in the manner anticipated. Any and all deviations from the expected results are either corrected by the manufacturers prior to the final report or documented for the regulator to consider when rendering a final decision. Due to the nature of the relationship, the ATF is the liaison between the manufacturer and the regulator and as such provides interpretation and consultation with regard to a product’s adherence to the rules. It is not uncommon for an ATF to work with the regulator to propose a rule to accommodate a product that meets the spirit of the law but not the letter of the law.
2. How important is it to develop standards within new and emerging gaming markets?
Jurisdictions cannot rely on manufacturers to guess what minimum standards are necessary or required. Technical standards and internal controls provide guidance to the game designers and the ATFs which in turn provides consistency in the operation of gaming products. These standards are needed to provide the necessary elements for gaming devices to be fair, reliable, and auditable. Sound technical standards benefit and protect both the operator and the player. Mature gaming markets need to maintain their rules as well to address emerging technologies.
3. How closely does your company work with regulators to develop these?
BMM authored the first set of independent Australian gaming standards in 1992 and the first set of online gaming standards in 2001. For its entire 30 years of existence BMM has been involved in the development of regulations either directly or indirectly. Many jurisdictions have seen the logic in owning and controlling changes to their own gaming regulations which include technical standards. In a similar philosophy that jurisdictions do not rely on another jurisdiction to create and maintain its laws defining and governing criminal activities, the current trend is to choose a set of technical standards from another jurisdiction, adopt them and control all changes to them thereafter. BMM has been helping jurisdictions that have adopted this philosophical approach.
4. Do you believe there is a concerted effort to achieve greater harmonisation in standards across the industry?
The effort to achieve harmonization in standards is driven by the manufacturers. It is in the manufacturer’s best interest to design innovations into their hardware and software to create products that can be approved in a multitude of jurisdictions. ATFs provide advice to regulators on the viability of product compliance as well as the modification of rules to accommodate innovative technology where there is no impact to the product’s integrity. The manufacturers are also involved in a drive for protocol standards. The operator, as the end user, stands to achieve the most benefit from this effort.
5. In which areas – both in terms of technologies and geography – is your company seeing the most interest in testing services?
In regulated markets, compliance testing is the gate to the casino floor. Where there is growth and opportunity for sales there is an interest in testing. Wherever gaming expands public policy generally embraces the adoption of controls to insure fairness to the activity. Regulated markets are on the rise, not the reverse. Witness internet gaming, rather than criminalize and trying to prosecute the activity, the trend is to define, regulate and control internet gaming. This is a global trend. Geographically this expansion of regulations has been occurring globally for all regulated bricks and mortar jurisdictions. The internet segment of the industry is creating increased demand for testing in those jurisdictions that have legalized iGaming.
6. Which new markets are expected to develop new regulations and equipment requirements over the coming year?
Everywhere gaming expands there is a demand for the creation of regulations. Italy and France are two examples of jurisdictions that have embraced internet gaming and have adopted new regulations. All across the USA there are many entities studying the internet gaming subject and contemplating how to implement effective regulations that permit growth without sacrificing integrity. BMM has seen a significant increase in interest regarding internet gaming from all aspects of the gaming industry; developers seeking enhanced compliance procedures, regulators seeking effective and reasonable regulations and internal controls, and operators seeking knowledge to expand their gaming footprint.
7. Finally, how has the economic downturn impacted your company? Have fewer companies been bringing new equipment to be tested, or has there been more investment in new products?
The economic downturn certainly had an impact on the entire gaming industry which has been documented in every trade and national news publication. BMM has seen, however, significant turning of the economic tide in the past twelve months that signals to us the improved health of the industry. The catalyst in the upswing in the economy comes from public confidence which translates into more visits to the casinos which fuels the cascading events of higher casino purchasing budgets, more product sales and the cycle renews. Testing products still remains to be a core element in the regulatory scheme and any expansion of legalized gaming will dictate testing the ever-increasing complexity of gaming products.