Segev LLP: Equipping the gaming industry with expertise
By Tom Nightingale
Gaming is a nuanced and unique industry, and that is reflected in the extensive and varied work of Segev LLP.
The team operates in a range of fields and has built an esteemed reputation as a world leader in gaming and betting law. “We love this industry and we’re deeply embedded in it,” partner and co-founder Ron Segev tells Canadian Gaming Business.
Ron stresses that while the firm bears his and his twin brother and partner Alon’s surname, it’s a much larger united effort. “We have a seven-strong dedicated gaming team that has largely been in the industry for almost 16 years,” he explains. “We’re a firm packed full of people who understanding gaming very well.”
The firm’s work in the Canadian and U.S. gaming industries to date has been comprehensive. It has helped U.S. gaming groups obtain remote licensing and payment processing solutions and assisted companies in locating gaming and betting development infrastructure in Canada. In its home province of B.C., it has aided several multinational gaming companies with their applications to become suppliers to BCLC and its PlayNow.com brand. Another notable example has been helping a large online gaming tech solutions company align its Canadian operation with federal law and foreign licensing obligations.
That only scratches the surface, but it goes some way to help understand Segev LLP’s reputation in the gaming field.
Adapting with industry change
The core focus of Segev LLP’s work is in the perpetually evolving field of iGaming. The firm’s iGaming team deals with issues including IP commercialization, privacy and data, and regulatory and compliance, and also includes a securities division that handles IPO and RTO work on Canadian capital markets. Ron himself, while adept and experienced in other areas, has been a specialized iGaming lawyer for more than 10 years, assisting online and social casinos, sportsbooks, and daily fantasy sports and eSports clients, among others.
Ron is highly aware that he and his team must constantly adapt to keep pace with the rate of change in the industry, specifically citing iGaming in Ontario, sports betting across the country, and cashless gaming and technologies and the operational and security factors that lie therein.
“The firm has grown to serve the evolving needs of the gaming industry,” Ron acknowledges. “When I set the firm up eight years ago, I was originally doing commercial work and licensing compliance work because that’s what people required. As the industry’s needs matured, we started hiring around that. There’s been so much activity on the public markets side, so four or five years ago we started a securities practice. We go where the gaming industry takes us, we’re quite happy to follow.”
In recent years, that has also led to considerable focus on the eSports side. Segev LLP was one of the first Canadian law firms with a dedicated eSports practice group and has worked closely with many leading Canadian eSports companies and numerous video game studios.
“Since the repeal of PASPA, we’re seeing a real bleed between traditional video gaming, gaming, and betting, and that’s being furthered by eSports,” says Ron. “There are big challenges, like getting regulators comfortable with operators taking bets on ‘smaller’ eSports tournaments. The eSports competitive landscape is vast: there are tournaments happening all the time on amateur platforms. It’s cool to see how this is moving forward. I think we’ll continue to see more of a bleed between sports betting, sports media, sports entertainment. The West Coast is an interesting place to be from that perspective.”
Key to Segev LLP’s work is being open to anything. As the industry moves forward, the firm prides itself on problem-solving. As Ron notes, “it’s not very helpful to say ‘no’, so we make it our mission to figure out how to get to ‘yes’.”
Nurturing the future
As part of that forward-looking approach, Segev LLP is also putting its time and efforts into preparing for the future of Canadian gaming, which includes joining the Canadian Gaming Association.
Not only does the company make it a point to keep up with an ever-changing industry it also embraces a role of teaching and mentorship. Segev LLP has worked with the University of British Columbia’s video game professor Jon Festinger and graduates of the school’s video gaming courses which help to train and prepare students for careers in game design, writing, and programming.
“There’s a conduit of young fresh talent immersed in this space,” notes Ron. “These are people who essentially grew up with a game controller in their hand and for whom eSports isn’t a standalone topic, it’s just life. We have young lawyers coming through that program all the time. We train them in legal best practices, and they bring us what’s new and what’s happening in the industry. I think we’re very lucky to have that relationship with UBC students. Innovation is very much youth-driven right and so we build from the bottom.”
The law firm has also worked with the Centre for Digital Media (CDM), which offers a two-year diploma program as a joint venture between Simon Fraser and Emily Carr universities, Vancouver film school, and British Columbia Institute of Technology. Segev LLP has also done significant work with start-ups and growing companies, particularly in the B.C. area. One of those is recent CGA member FansUnite, which was a client of Segev’s very early in the company’s history and has already become a big success story in the market. “It’s super fun to mentor and work with groups like that and see them achieve their potential,” says Ron.
Moving forward, Ron says he hopes joining the CGA – a move he calls “long overdue” – can be the beginning of a fruitful two-way partnership. Ron: “Joining the CGA is long overdue.
“There’s a real money gaming and betting hub out West and we feel we help to serve as the eyes and ears for the CGA here,” he concludes. “Not just Vancouver; the Pacific Northwest is a really important market. We feel we can support CGA initiatives out here but also have that flow both ways.”
CGA President and CEO Paul Burns has called Segev LLP “a go-to source” for information on finance, technology, and digital programs and services in the gaming industry and stressed “it’s been terrific to share the stage with them.”
It’s a partnership that both sides are looking forward to continuing.