Catherine Myers, CEO of the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation in Australia, and an IAGR trustee, tells Focus Gaming News about the importance of sharing regulatory policy.
Exclusive interview.- With just a couple of months to go until IAGR 2021 in Boston, Focus Gaming News caught up with Catherine Myers, a trustee at the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR) and CEO at the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation in Australia.
The IAGR conference, which takes place from September 12 to 17, was postponed from last year due to the upheaval caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. But it has bounced back with the launch of the first International Regulatory Awards, which aims to contribute to the recognition of innovation and excellence in gambling regulation.
The theme of this year’s conference is Disrupting the Regulator – Sparking innovation in regulatory practice. Myers says it’s precisely the disruption in gaming, not only due to the Covid-19 pandemic but also changes in the industry and in regulation, that makes it a crucial moment to bring regulators together and to promote and share their work.
“What we’re seeing is a great deal of disruption. Disruption from Covid, but also disruption in the form of innovation from industry,” Myers says. “So it’s really created an opportunity for IAGR to create these awards to recognise the great regulatory policy work that’s going on across the globe.”
IAGR’s International Regulatory Awards
There are five categories in the inaugural awards, but what makes an International regulator of the year – the headline award?
“What we’re looking for are changes that have been impactful.”Catherine Myers, CEO at the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.
“We expect that the shortlisted nominees will really be able to demonstrate improvements to regulatory practice where there are tangible benefits for the communities in which they operate,” Myers says. “And really what we’re looking for are changes that have been impactful, both from regulator outcomes but really also supporting driving the industry forward with the innovation that we’re seeing across the globe.”
Benefit of global connection
Myers highlights the increased frequency of collaboration between regulators, especially in areas where new markets are opening up, for example in Japan.
“Covid has accelerated the use of technology in collaboration,” she notes. “What we expect to see is IAGR being able to facilitate more of that collaboration using technology, rather than just the annual conference.
“So some of the things we’re turning our minds to are what are the tools we need on our website that will help support collaboration amongst regulators.”
Myers stressed that regulators can learn from each other, even when their markets might be very different since seeing changes in other markets can help regulators evaluate whether the issues may be relevant to their own jurisdiction.
“We can learn a lot from what goes on when new markets open up.”Catherine Myers, CEO at the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.
“I think we can learn a lot from what goes on when new markets open up: what risks are there, what opportunities. We can learn from those that are leaders in this space about what they’ve learned from opening up a new market.
“The IAGR conference presents an opportunity for people to present information relating to those new markets, and once you’ve got that content, it really does help that discussion amongst regulators.”
It’s not only collaboration between regulators. Myers also highlights the importance of collaboration with the industry, the community and with legislators, turning insights from various stakeholders into legislative thinking.
“I think that regulators have a lot to contribute to the legislative process. Within our own jurisdiction, we have a very close relationship with the department that’s responsible for government policy and legislation, and there are a number of ways that we contribute to their thinking.
“We provide data and information on how the existing framework operates, we provide insights into the legislative framework where we think there might be gaps or there might be some ambiguity, and if we can talk about how that then translates to when you operate it in regulatory practice, they get some tangible insights into what changes they might like to make.”
Pandemic and gambling regulation
Despite the major challenges posed by the combination of intense regulatory scrutiny and regular Covid-19 lockdowns in the past year, the gaming industry has become better at pivoting, Myers says, getting used to opening and closing at short notice.
“From our jurisdiction’s perspective, that’s how we’ve had to respond to government restrictions.
“I think that the pandemic and health regulations are front of mind for casino regulators. Within my own agency, we’ve been funded to create two public health and wellbeing teams, and those teams are responsible for going out into the hospitality industry and the gaming industry to ensure that they’re compliant with our chief health officer’s restrictions, so I think there’s another layer that are casino operators and gaming operators need to be thinking about.”
“It’s not just compliance with gaming regulations now; it’s also compliance with public health and wellbeing legislation.”Catherine Myers, CEO at the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.
“It’s not just compliance with gaming regulations now; it’s also compliance with public health and wellbeing legislation, so there’s a lot on their plate and there’s a lot of work to be done to ensure that they set themselves up in a way that they can continue to get their patrons into their business but also protect the health and safety of their staff and patrons.”