Continent 8 Technologies could have gone anywhere in the world, but it chose the Isle of Man. The company is truly globally-based, with a network of data centres and a world-wide private network. No one is more international in the supply of services to e-gaming.
“It was always a natural choice,” said Peter Williams, Continent 8’s Director of Global Sales. “We liked the island’s ‘freedom to flourish’ philosophy and the business-friendly environment. That corresponded well with our ethos.”
He added, “One of the Isle of Man’s greatest advantages is the willingness of the Government to work with business to create appropriate and forward-thinking policy and legislation.” That is a vital part of what Continent 8 does. Good working relations with the jurisdiction itself dovetails neatly with the company’s passion for customer relations.
“We work together with the authority to ensure that the island is the perfect location for primary hosting and disaster recovery. This remains a key jurisdiction for e-gaming and hosts a large number of complementary businesses that can assist us in making the customer experience as flawless as possible.”
“We work with corporate service providers, the lawyers, financial institutions and consultants, to ensure that this happens.”
Continent 8’s head office is located just outside of Douglas and doubles as the centre of sales and marketing, accounting and technical operations. “But let’s not try to hide the fact that the e-gaming industry is global and operators have reasons – tangible or intangible – for where they want to run their operations or for where they want to be licensed.”
“Operators want the flexibility and scope to expand globally and not to be constrained by their initial choice of jurisdiction. This is no bad reflection on the jurisdiction, but it is indicative of how the industry is changing or adapting to the player or legislation.”
Williams is a keen observer of the jurisdictional international stage and approves of the way in which the Manx Government and more precisely, its e-gaming workforce, is putting itself at the forefront of European legislation as a jurisdiction which can be trusted and one with which partnerships can be forged. There will be countries, he points out – like France – which will want to go it alone. “As a company we would prefer not to have to provide hosting services in every European country. We would prefer to see others taking the Spanish lead, but if our customers need infrastructure in a particular country then our model will accommodate this.”
Williams is frank about Continent 8’s attitudes and loyalties, with data centres and licenses in a range of countries. “We have often been criticized for promoting all jurisdictions. ‘Are you friend or foe?’; we have heard this on a number of occasions….but in reality, it is this global footprint which permits us the leverage to build such a wide client base and to get those clients installed in multiple locations as suits their business needs. Of course we would love them to all come to the Isle of Man but this isn’t going to happen.”
As the company moves towards its 15th anniversary (2013), Williams and his colleagues can review their progress from humble beginnings to Continent 8’s current position at the very peak of its specialist market – and can do so with some satisfaction.
It still has a customer base dating back to its earliest days, companies which saw in Continent 8 a partner which had realistic and achievable ambitions and the drive to attain them. It now hosts some of the largest operators in the industry. “It is safe to say, but often not discussed, that some of the largest operators in the industry started with Continent 8 and there are some amusing anecdotes from those very early days which perhaps we shouldn’t go into here – but it has been a fascinating, stimulating roller-coaster of a 15-year ride, thankfully mostly upwards!”
Suffice to say that the Continent 8 team at the Dublin Supershow in May this year met up with the company’s first ‘live’ customer and were pleased to hear: “We have never had an issue – ever.” That was a considerable testimonial from an operator who has worked in partnership with Continent 8 since 1998…
There are plenty of start-ups who began with Continent 8 when it was a start-up itself – and remain with the company to this day. Some of the very earliest have fallen by the wayside, but others have become household names and are listed on various stock exchanges. “Yes, we have lost a couple of these early start-ups but this has been down to us not having a facility in the jurisdictions to which they moved after the early days. But with our expanding footprint we are now back in discussions with some of these operators, in fact in some instances we have started operations in jurisdictions because we have been asked to by our early customers.”
Is the company too vertically integrated? After all, Continent 8 is focused on e-gaming and it has a depth of understanding of the business as a benefit from that concentration. Can you BE too vertically integrated, if it comes to that? “It is true that e-gaming is our key business, whether this was by design or circumstances. Each industry has its own idiosyncrasies and we understand our customer’s needs and products and that, in turn, drives our product development. So no, we cannot be TOO vertically integrated in that case.”
Williams doesn’t do comparisons and would not be drawn on whether competitors can match Continent 8’s seven world-wide data centre locations. He does accept, however that the company does not compete with another provider in that spread of influence. At a local level in the Isle of Man, Continent 8 competes directly with a number of centres, all of which he says, are very similar in standards and the island can be proud of that quality. “Because we have built our multi-jurisdictional model connected by our Global Private Network, customers can expand as their business requires and take advantage of active set-up or implement a disaster recovery plan across a seamless platform.”
How far will that expand? With the distinct possibility – now more a case of probability – that the United States market will open in the short-term, how does Continent 8 view its ability to take on and digest such a huge additional market? Not surprisingly, the company is already deeply involved in preparations for the event. “We are actively seeking additional sites in North America and will have at least one additional site live within the next 12 months – earlier if there is a need from our customers. One such site will be in Las Vegas, at the request of many customers who are being licensed by Nevada.”
But the ‘when’ is the question and one debate which Williams will join, but with a large dose of realism. “There are too many ‘experts’ out there at the moment, all with their own take on what is going to happen and making a name for themselves by writing opinions in articles. For my penny’s worth, I think we will see some form of opening up of the US market but it will come at state level. I also believe that there are some rocky roads ahead and we haven’t seen the true force of some of the influential action groups who will oppose e-gaming legislation in the US.”
Coming up: What Continent 8 regards as a “very exciting” 12 months ahead. It is an unusual adjective from Williams and his colleagues who believe that in terms of what a company can achieve is very much down to performance first and laurels later. The normal sang-froid approach we usually find from Continent 8 is currently replaced by an acute realization of the possibilities which may emerge from its Irish development.
The ink is hardly dry on a contract for Continent 8’s Dublin data centre with the first customer’s equipment already in the delivery bay for installation as this issue was going to press. This will be closely followed by operations starting in Guernsey for Alderney licensees.
Both of these facilities will be connected directly to the company’s other current locations, in the Isle of Man, Gibraltar, London, Paris, Malta, Milan, Singapore and Montreal, all through the Global Private Network and offering a complete suite of services including MPLS Services, DDoS mitigation and disaster recovery.
As we said – truly global.
Article appeared in iNTERGAMINGi, Issue 4 2012