Nick Nally, managing director – Americas at Continent 8 Technologies, focuses on the company’s ability to reflect the changing tech landscape
iNTERGAMINGi: Could you tell us about the company and how it started?
The Continent 8 journey began in 1998. For more than 20 years we have been serving the global gambling industry, providing our customers with secure, high availability global managed hosting, connectivity, and security solutions. Over this time our products and services have evolved to reflect the ever-changing technology landscape.
We take great pride in being a leading service provider to the industry and at a time when demand for our solutions is increasing significantly. Despite this rapid growth, we are committed to offering quality, flexibility, and outstanding customer service via our global team while at the same time providing a local, bespoke approach to each partner.
In which markets does the company currently operate?
Our reach is global, but our focus and customer service is very much local. We have an interconnected global network of more than 80 locations across four continents – Europe, Asia, North America and South America. We are launching new sites every month, particularly in the US where we are committed to being first to market in regulated states as soon as they open their doors to legal online gambling.
Take our Atlantic City data centre in New Jersey as an example. Launched in 2019 and housed within the landmark Atlantic City Convention Centre, it is the only data site in the state that has been purpose-built for the online gambling industry. It is fully compliant with DGE regulations and is the only independent, licensed facility that can house gaming infrastructure outside of a licensed casino. We are currently completing stage three expansion of the site with a modular addition approved by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, adding 30% capacity.
What are the most complex aspects of entering new markets with such unique products?
Regulation is incredibly complex and one of the biggest challenges we face. This is certainly the case when it comes to data security and compliance and especially in the US market where regulations differ from state to state. This is why we focus on developing relationships and working closely with regulators in each state – and in other global markets – to understand their requirements so that we can establish the right infrastructure to support our customers while also ensuring compliance.
Regulation may be complex, but it is nothing new and our 20+ years of experience in the industry means we are well placed to work with regulators, understand requirements and build the best-in-class infrastructure to deliver our solutions within the guidelines set.
Conversely, what have been the most enjoyable aspects the company has discovered while expanding its horizons?
Continent 8 is here to support its customers in each of the markets they wish to target. While entering new markets is not without its challenges, it is incredibly rewarding to be able to keep expanding globally and to be assisting our customers with their own expansion plans. Today we are live in 80+ locations around the world and are on target to increase that number to more than 90 by the end of the year.
As the company continues to grow, which new markets are you looking to venture into and why?
Our expansion plans are truly global. Of course, the US market is a key focus right now and we are already live in 24 states with many more set to come online including Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio and South Dakota.
In Europe, we have recently opened sites in Latvia (Riga) and Romania (Bucharest).
We have also been busy in Latin America, a region where we believe the gambling industry will enjoy incredible growth over the next two to five years. We now offer our full suite of solutions in Colombia, Peru and Puerto Rico with Argentina and Brazil set to follow. What’s more, we have recently acquired sub-sea cable capacity from Portugal to Brazil to reduce latency from Europe to Latin America, providing further support to European customers entering the region.
What elements do you believe go into growing the company’s footprint in new areas?
Demand is of course a factor in defining our international expansion strategy. Right now, we know the American market is booming – with operators looking to quickly enter regulated states. As a customer-centric business, we have a clear understanding of the markets our customers are prioritising and adjust our own roadmap to ensure we are able to support their expansion plans.
We have been providing our services and solutions to the global gambling industry for the past 20 years and this puts us in a unique position of having unrivalled insight and experience in what it takes to assist our customers in successfully entering new markets.
All markets are different in relation to regulation and clientele. It must be complex to have successful products that adhere to the needs of markets across the world and yet to take the time to alter elements to fit certain countries, or in relation to the US, even particular states. How do you balance the need for specificity, regulation and change for products that may have already been successful but now require changes to fit new regions?
As the US market develops and matures, companies will have to adhere to standards-based operations which means the challenge for operators will be to avoid becoming inundated with service provider contracts. At Continent 8, we’re able to offer a single contract across the US under one master services agreement with service-level agreements sitting underneath that – this makes it much easier for our customers.
What are the most interesting trends you’ve noticed in the industry in relation to the pandemic?
The rise in the number of cyber-attacks and in particular DDoS and Ransomware is incredibly alarming. In 4Q21, we blocked 641 DDoS attacks against our customers, up from 546 in the previous quarter. It is worth noting that the Q3 number was more than double that recorded in the second quarter. Worryingly, we are not only seeing a rise in the number of attacks but also the size, which in Q4 breached 1Tbps for the second quarter running. The largest attack size registered during Q4 was 1.9Tbps – a record for us.
That is why it is vital that organisations strengthen their defences today if they are to give themselves the best opportunity to successfully defend against an attack. An attack that is more likely a case of when and not if.
What exciting news should your customers be looking forward to in the near future?
We are growing incredibly quickly, especially in the US where we have a first to market strategy to ensure our customers have that all-important competitive advantage. We are also enhancing and strengthening our security products and solutions to meet the rising threat and prevalence of cyber-attacks that we have seen over the past 12 months.
This article features in iNTERGAMINGi Issue 2 2022 on Page 59.