Intricacies of licensing on the Isle of Man

The Isle of Man is vying for the light, as other licensing jurisdictions come online, but the Chief Executive of the Digital Isle of Man, Lyle Wraxall, says the region still holds strong potential, as an “easy and friendly place to do business” for online gaming companies. However, the region’s licensing process is not for everyone, as each business needs to decide what fits their scope, as the current backlog is quite high.

We’re joined today by Lyle Wraxall, the Chief Executive of the Digital Isle of Man, thank you for being with us.


There’s a lot going on. But I wanted to ask what makes the Isle of Man attractive to the online gaming companies?

I think the Isle of Man is globally renowned now for being a center for online gaming, we have some really good operators, we’ve got a really good ecosystem there. And it’s an incredibly easy and friendly place to do business.

Part of what the Isle of Man tries to do is to work with the gaming companies to understand what they need to make sure that our regulation is appropriate, gives them what they need, allows them to do the business they’re looking to do. But equally beyond that, we look across everything they need, that we can do with our own government to help support their growth. So as such, we have a team of people who will go out and work with our stakeholders, as accounts, understand what works for them, what doesn’t work, and where the government can offer support and help to help them grow their businesses. That’s what we do

That type of interaction is absolutely essential in growing the space and making sure that everybody’s happy, whether it be the the operators themselves, or the regulators. But you guys are not the only ones in this space, are other jurisdictions right now stealing some of the licensing business?

We are seeing other jurisdictions come into play, that’s absolutely fine. Licenses are a necessity for us to do business. More and more businesses need a portfolio of licenses to be able to do those businesses. There is also, I’d like to say, a maturity to those licenses as well. I think some younger businesses might start off with particular licenses, and then grow into some of the tier ones as they feel more comfortable being able to adhere to those compliance issues, which creates a cost to your business.

“So, the Isle of Man license isn’t for everyone, and nor should it be. So, each business needs to look across the licenses available to them, and decide what’s right for them.”

Lyle Wraxall, CEO, Digital Isle of Man

We feel confident that we have a good product, not just good product but a license that really does help your business. And, equally as important, the Isle of Man as a destination and a place to run your business is highly attractive as well.

We’ve heard a lot of catchphrases: AI, and so on and so forth. We’re talking a lot about technology in the summit. Do you think that that changing tech is then helping business whether it be yours itself or those of your clients?

So I’m obviously going to say ‘yes’ to that, because that’s a key focus for us. I’ve literally just been within Singapore last week where we signed an MOU on AI with AI Singapore. So obviously, this is something that we see as incredibly important. And again, given the time we spend with our businesses, I understand that these kinds of topics are important to them as well.

AI Singapore

Everyone’s trying to understand how to leverage these new technologies to help grow their business and how to differentiate themselves.

When we started the digital agency in 2018, one of the first things we did was to start looking at DLT (distributed ledger) technologies, which really created the possibility to have crypto and different payment providers in this space. We’ve grown that a considerable amount since then. So we have a lot of payment service providers that are non crypto, some of them are crypto, but it’s about creating that enrichment of the ecosystem: different choices, different ways to kind of move money in and out of these businesses.

Similarly, data as well, we see more and more focus on data. It’s a very dry subject. But it’s one, again, that businesses are talking to us about, we’re coming up with new propositions and new ways to deal with that on the Isle of Man as well. So, my role really is to grow a technology sector on the island that is really good for our economy but is also really good for everybody who’s within that sector.

You had some certain benchmarks for 2023, which was I think 200 new jobs and 90 new gaming licenses. Do you have any estimates for 2024?

At the moment, we’re holding on to those same estimates. So we’re – 200 jobs, we’ve gotten 210 licenses. We have a pipeline of licenses now which is incredibly high, so it’s gonna take quite quite a bit to work through that. And, you know, with business development, obviously, not everything in the pipeline comes to fruition, but we are seeing a high level of interest. And, you know, that’s that’s good to see. But we need to make sure that we continue to provide that support to those businesses that they come to expect, that’s really our priority.

Also, we very much focus on prioritizing the businesses that are already on the island. So while we are very keen to welcome new businesses into our ecosystem, it’s really important that we continue to provide the services to the people that are there as well. So that’s what we’re doing. I’d say so far, this year, everything’s looking quite promising. We are putting a bit more effort into our FinTech space than we did last year as well. And AI, as you can imagine, has taken up a huge amount of time,

In terms of timelines, so how long would it take to get a license on the island?

It’s only a 12 week process from when the application goes in, which is pretty fast compared to some other areas. There are a lot of questions, there’s a lot to do. But at least it doesn’t hold up your business too much. And that’s what’s really important, is to make sure that you’ve got level of certainty, you understand what the license is going to give you, and you understand how long it’s going to take to get there.

We’ve actually recruited into the regulatory team, more people, so we’ve got a bit more bandwidth to be able to support the increased number of licenses we’re seeing. But it’s really important that we manage that journey properly, and that we’re working with people in the right way.

It does seem like maturity is a key component in terms of who will be needing to seek out that license. Looking at the Asian operators, are there more and more Asian operators, as they mature, seeking out an Isle of Man license?

We certainly see operators looking at this part of the world, as we do with other parts as well. Would I say that it’s any more than usual? I’m not really sure that it is. I mean, a big part of of one of the things that I look at is diversity, making sure that we have a diverse portfolio of businesses on the island, and that they’re focused on different regions. But as I say, it’s slightly difficult to say because the interest is quite high.

And again, let’s go back to the maturity question, we will see a number of those will feel actually maybe they’re not quite ready yet, and they might move away. Other ones see it as a critical path to hitting their business objectives. So (with) that we’re very much focused on trying to get through that journey.

Well, I mean, I look forward to seeing what you guys hit within 2024, what’s coming in the future. Thank you very much for being with us, Lyle Wraxall, the Chief Executive of the Digital Isle of Man, thank you.

Thank you.