The important role of certifying slot machines and technology systems in the casino industry is undergoing a dramatic change. As gaming jurisdictions attempt to reduce regulatory costs while maintaining integrity, independent test labs (ITLs) have become a viable alternative to government-run labs. BMM has taken its experience in international jurisdictions and offered its services to government, operators and manufacturers in both the land-based and online industry. Entrepreneur Martin Storm saw the potential of the company when he bought it in 2005, and has built it into a significant presence in the market. He spoke with Global Gaming Business Publisher Roger Gros at the BMM offices in Las Vegas in May. To hear a podcast of the interview visit ggbnews/podcasts.
GGB: Give us a short history of BMM Compliance.
Storm: Thirty years ago, BMM began providing technology audit and certification services to government and industry in Australia. What followed has been an exciting journey of development in the worldwide gaming industry encompassing hundreds of staff and clients, over thousands of projects, in 12 countries and with 11 labs. When I acquired BMM in 2005, I moved BMM’s domicile to the U.S. so that today we are a U.S. parent company. We are experiencing significant growth, and with the competition in the U.S. market finally within reach, we expect to be able to serve those five to six gaming manufacturers who deliver over 85 percent of the product in the market. That will change everything in the U.S. gaming market test lab space. Everything.
What is the BMM culture?
We act with integrity. We are dedicated to quality and productivity. We are responsive and accountable to each other. We are committed to positive stakeholder outcomes. We believe in great people given a great focus for great execution over time.
What are the services that you offer?
Simply, BMM offers product certification testing in the gaming industry for i-gaming, lottery, parimutuel wagering, casino, amusement and sweepstakes, and every legal variant thereof. We also offer field services to operators including product and floor audits of many kinds and risk management reviews. For regulators, we provide a range of consulting services including advice and guidance, inspections, forensics, technical standards and regulatory development.
Regulators have had an adversary relationship with operators in the past. What has your experience been, since you interact with regulators all the time?
It would seem that current economic realities have collided with evolving regulatory pragmatism. Most regulators will remain cautious in nature, but seem more willing to evolve in times of rapid change. Critically, the integrity in the gaming industry today is extremely high, as is evidenced now in my many years at BMM where, over thousands of projects, we have never had one manufacturer, supplier or operator place us or attempt to place us in a conflicted position.
Does it make sense for all regulatory agencies to use independent test labs rather that go through the expense of setting up and maintaining a state lab?
Pragmatically, yes. Government today is not funding test labs in a way that enables them to maintain benchmark capabilities like BMM does. At our core we exist only to provide these technical capabilities, we exist to continuously improve and invest, and we exist to satisfy all stakeholders through valued services.
In saying that, I believe that regulators should always maintain a level of technical expertise on staff that can work with ITLs on standards and standard interpretations as well as to make sure that the work product of the independent laboratories meets the agencies’ expectations.
As technology leaps forward, how is BMM staying up to date on the newest slots and systems?
BMM stays up to date on the latest technology by maintaining constant communication with those companies at the forefront of implementing new technologies, in the gaming industry as well as the non-gaming industries. The gaming industry has historically lagged behind other technology-driven industries, allowing labs to learn from the deployment of new technology well before it reaches the gaming industry.
Online gaming is the big opportunity the gaming industry is eyeing. How does BMM help operators certify the games, systems, etc.?
BMM has been certifying i-gaming systems and its components since the late 1990s, and also published the first set of comprehensive i-gaming technical standards in the early 2000s. We have staff at BMM today in Las Vegas that were instrumental in the development of the Nevada Online Standards. BMM has certified many of the major systems that exist today and has built a deep bench of skills and expertise, all across the world.
Nevada recently approved independent test labs. Do you believe you’re going to get your fair share of that business?
We are already winning more than our fair share of business in Nevada. Nevada requires a unique test for all product, and that product approval will transfer to nearly all U.S. gaming markets. Nevada is the new standard for U.S. gaming product.
Do you believe other states and jurisdictions are going to follow Nevada’s lead?
Significant change is upon us whether we like it or not. The 2007-2009 economic recession has been so traumatic that any federal government has at least another four years to restore confidence and another decade to restore the economy to a truly healthy state. In that time, I expect that gaming will prosper significantly as most state governments continue to pursue economic investment for jobs and increased income generation from consumption and taxes.