Tobin Prior of Sun InternationalGOM interviews Online Casino giant Sun International’s CEO Tobin Prior about their new online casino www.casinoatlantis.com.
GOM: Tobin, can you give Gambling Online Magazine some history behind Sun International?
Tobin: Sun International is an extensive land-based casino resort operator having being pretty famous for resort developments like Sun City. We then we moved into the Indian Ocean territories, then into the Caribbean with the development of Atlantis on Paradise Island, and then into the US with the development of the Mohegan Sun and after that Resorts in Atlantic City.
GOM: Why did Sun make the decision to be the first large land-based operator to go online?
Tobin: Well, Sun believed that the Industry was developing at a rapid rate that the legal environment was changing quite rapidly as well and to the extent that this represented our core business and there was a way of dealing with it legitimately then we wanted to be part of this developing business. We took the initiative and basically put ourselves forward as the first major land based operator to move into the space with our brands.
GOM: Does Sun feel that the future of gambling is online?
Tobin: Not necessarily, I think that land based operations will continue to attract the customers that they have in the past, however the reality is that an online industry has developed and too the extent that there is an legitimate way of participating in that industry and extending core business from a land based environment onto the internet and its obviously behooves to look at this development.
GOM: What advantages does a land-based operator, with their experience, have when coming online?
Tobin: Well, there are a couple of advantages, but firstly it has an established brand and a established customer franchise to which it can market. Moreover it has established credentials and a reputation which is more evident than most of the operators in this space and will be more evident in terms of leveraging its credentials and its corporate profile in the space. We have taken a very progressive approach towards regulatory compliance and will be operating in a fashion consistent with land based regulatory jurisdictions which should provide extra player protection and customer trust in terms of the way we operate.
GOM: You have chosen the Isle of Man as a premier jurisdiction for offering an Internet Gambling opportunity to your existing clients and to others. Why did you choose the Isle of Man?
Tobin: Well we took a very active approach with regards to regulators and actually developed procedures and processes for operating a casino in an online environment that would comply with land based regulations and the Isle of Man was the first jurisdiction to adopt regulations that where very similar to the type of regulatory conditions under which major land based Casino operators were used to operating. So the Isle of Man basically heralded in a new era for online casino operators in the sense that it introduced a whole new regulatory environment that was consistent with the type of environment that we currently operate under.
GOM: With such stringent regulation in the Isle of Man and with so many applicants applying for the limited number of licenses, why did the Isle of Man choose Sun International to receive one of three original licenses?
Tobin: We think there are a couple of factors that account for this but I wasn’t the final adjudicator so I can state with certainty. But, we do believe that the pioneering work that we did in developing processes and procedures for an online casino that were compliant with land based regulations put us ahead of the pack with regard to ready implementation, with regard to jurisdictional compliance and with regard to recognition amongst leading regulators. We had in fact developed this compliance leadership position. In addition to the we believe that we have a very strong brand portfolio to bring to the Internet and good corporate credibility which we believe counted in our favor.
GOM: What does it mean to have an Isle of Man License from the player’s perspective?
Tobin: The Isle of Man has put in place a jurisdiction that provides far more player protection than any jurisdiction on Internet Gaming has hitherto. In terms of dispute resolution and in terms of guarantees operators are required to put down with the government to safeguard against players not receiving money. Licensees are required to undergo very strict probity and background checks before they are in a position to be licensed and the regulatory authority has full time inspectors to make sure that operators are abiding to the terms of their licenses. They have put stringent requirements in place to make sure they have all games tested for fairness, to make sure that wagering is not taken from illegal jurisdictions thereby protecting individuals that might be in breach of the law in their own countries. It has detailed dispute resolution procedures and so on. It really has gone into a league that has gone way beyond what has existed before in terms of player protection and security.
GOM: I know you have taken a lot of painstaking effort to ensure your software is compliant to not only the Isle of Man’s regulations but to regulation within other jurisdictions around the world. Could you explain that in some detail?
Tobin: Effectively, regulators are concerned about various areas of operation when it comes to gaming and we had to apply ourselves to all of these areas and address was of appeasing regulatory concerns in this regulatory environment. So we had to concern ourselves with the way we verify age and what systems we put in place to thwart attempts by underage people to get onto the site. Secondly, we had to devise a methodology of excluding players from illegal or prohibited jurisdictions. This we did by developing some proprietary technology to insure that they could not wager for real on our site. In addition to that, we had to address issues of compulsive gambling. We had to look at the application of money laundering codes to the online environment, we had to look at dispute resolution mechanisms, we had to look at making sure that our staff weren’t in a position to abuse their knowledge of our systems, and so on. We literally identified about thirteen areas and then developed a very comprehensive code of practice which runs to literally 100 pages. We then had to train all of our staff with to make sure that they implemented these procedures. Then we developed the necessary software to make sure that these procedures could in effect be implemented in our casino.
GOM: Why from a player’s perspective, besides the legality, is the software used by Sun International unique, and which one of your properties are you most trying to emulate with that software?
Tobin: The software has many unique features, many of these are features designed for the player’s benefit, and a lot of them are features designed to make sure that the casino operations comply with the regulatory requirements. The brand that we are going to be taking online is Atlantis and a lot of the graphics emulate the Atlantis experience. Obviously this is an online casino experience which is very close to a real land-based experience but nonetheless is in a different medium. It’s a pretty close approximation, and we have done everything in our power to make it as real an experience as possible and incorporate our many unique features, which have never been, been seen on the internet or in the internet casino environment before.
GOM: Can you give us a general summary about why players should come to Sun and Play at Sun?
Tobin: Firstly I think we have a fantastic casino proposition for people to visit. Its an extraordinary casino with fantastic graphics, fantastic player features, lots of them new. And secondly our players will be playing on a casino they can trust. Our credentials are very clearly stated, we are a real land-based company of sustenance and players have full recourse to us in the event of any complaints or disputes. We think it’s a fantastic product that players are going to enjoy. We look forward to serving them at an online casino.