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THE STATE OF THE IGAMING INDUSTRY IN 2019

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MEET THE CHAIRMAN OF THE NEW IGAMING EUROPEAN NETWORK

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ESPORTS: WHAT LIES AHEAD

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OFFICIAL PARTNERS

SUMMER 2019


SUMMER 2019 CONTENTS

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24 THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY

What does the future hold for this thriving sector of the local economy?

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DRIVING POSITIVE ACTION FOR THE IGAMING INDUSTRY IN MALTA

ESPORTS: MALTA’S NEXT GREAT TECH FRONTIER

The iGaming European Network (iGEN) brings stakeholders in the field of iGaming together to discuss and network. Its Chairman Enrico Bradamante discusses the entity’s work.

The Esporting sector is gaining momentum locally. What lies ahead?

44 CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: THE BATTLEGROUND OF THE INDUSTRY

The customer experience is increasingly becoming the battleground of the industry. How are iGaming companies seeking to rise above competition in this sphere?

50 LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL WHEN YOU CHOOSE TO SEE THE GOOD THINGS

Two years ago, Megan Easey, who has worked within the gaming industry for 14 years, made Malta her home. She shares her Malta experience.

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IT’S ALL ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP

Betsson Group’s Head of Global Recruitment Adam Woodley discusses what it takes to be at the frontline in the war for talent in the iGaming industry.

70 RE/MAX MALTA: WE KNOW THE IGAMING SECTOR BETTER THAN ANYONE 76 THE FUTURE AIRLINE OF THE MEDITERRANEAN 82 BETTING ON THE BEST: WHY BETSSON PLACES STAFF AT THE CORE OF ITS CULTURE 020


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WHEN WEIRD MEETS WONDERFUL IN A FANTASTIC OFFICE DESIGN

iGaming Capital visits Casumo’s impressive office, designed by Forward Architects.

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64 MALTA IS THE BEST IGAMING HUB IN THE WORLD

Toni Halonen explains why there’s no better base than Malta to consolidate his company’s future in iGaming.

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FEELING THE BRUNT: IS PROPERTY IN MALTA JUST TOO EXPENSIVE?

Are rent rates and property purchase costs becoming too high even for employees within the iGaming sector? Key stakeholders have their say.

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104 WEATHERING THE STORM OF BREXIT UNCERTAINTY

Three businesses involved in the iGaming industry discuss the effects of the UK’s divorce from the EU.

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ASK THE COACH

PAPARAZZI

In her column, C-level executive coach Marion Gamel provides advice to business leaders seeking to tackle global expansion.

From the coolest parties to awesome company perks, a showcase of everything that makes the iGaming industry in Malta the best place to be.

88 RAISING THE GAME, RACING AHEAD 110 HARNESSING ALL THE BENEFITS OF A SOUND OFFICE DESIGN 116 TACKLING THE SOCIAL ASPECT OF MALTA’S GROWING GAMING INDUSTRY 132 IGAMING CALENDAR 021


SUMMER 2019 FOREWORD

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SUMMER 2019 FOREWORD

Consolidating growth within the sector Welcome to the summer 2019 issue of iGaming Capital! The past few months have seen the iGaming sector continue to consolidate its position as a leading employer – and a pillar of the Maltese economy – with strides having been made to shore up the industry’s foothold on the island. We’re proud to be part of this journey and this edition strives to give you the low-down on what is happening in the field, painting a picture of the challenges and opportunities being faced by operators, as well as discussing the exciting prospects which lie ahead. In this issue, we map out the present state of the industry, examining how the landscape has been impacted by legislative reform, such as the Gaming Act 2018 and GDPR regulation, as well as the introduction of a comprehensive Digital Ledger Technology (DLT) framework. We also look into the effect the increase in property prices has had on the sector, examining whether rent rates and purchase costs are becoming too high; and we look ahead to Brexit, asking: how are stakeholders dealing with the looming deadline of Britain’s exit from the European Union? But, first, to get a more comprehensive look at the shifts in the field, we interview Enrico Bradamante, the Chairman of iGaming European Network (iGEN), an industry trade association working to lead the way on initiatives to benefit the iGaming community. Human resources, educational opportunities and continued dialogue with the institutions concerned are top of the agenda for Mr Bradamante, who underlines the need for all stakeholders to work together. We hope you enjoy the edition.

PUBLISHER Content House Ltd

i s a t s a n A a c c e b e R ACTING EDITOR Rebecca Anastasi DIRECTOR OF SALES AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Matthew Spiteri

Content House Group Mallia Building, 3, Level 2, Triq in-Negozju, Mriehel BKR3000 Tel: 2132 0713 info@contenthouse.com.mt www.contenthouse.com.mt

CORPORATE SALES & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT EXECUTIVE Angele Buscemi OPERATIONS & CLIENT RELATIONSHIP MANAGER Elena Dimech CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND DESIGN Nicholas Cutajar COVER ILLUSTRATION Cover illustration by Nadine Noko, created exclusively for iGaming Capital

Content House Ltd would like to thank all the protagonists, contributors, advertisers and the project team that have made this publication a success. Articles appearing in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of Content House Ltd. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission of the publishers is strictly prohibited. iGaming Capital is distributed to all iGaming companies operating in Malta as well as to relevant business and commercial stakeholders in Malta, including all law firms, financial services companies and business consultancy firms, as well as to all local auditors, accountants and accountancy firms. It is also distributed to all Government ministries and departments, as well as to the waiting areas of all private and public hospitals. Beyond the free distribution network, iGaming Capital is sold at all leading newsagents around Malta. iGaming Capital is also distributed in London to major business and financial consultancy firms, as well as to UK-based investment and venture capital firms.

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SUMMER 2019 COVER STORY

THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY

iGaming in 2019 In 2018, the gaming industry in Malta continued to consolidate its position as a major economic pillar, with several promising prospects on the horizon. However, much has changed since the beginnings of the iGaming industry in Malta, and while there are new opportunities, there are also new challenges. Marie-Claire Grima speaks to a number of industry stakeholders to map out a picture of what the future holds for this valuable sector of the economy.

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he iGaming industry in Malta has continued to go from strength to strength. According to the Malta Gaming Authority’s interim report covering January to June 2018, the contribution of the gaming industry to the total value added of the Maltese economy exceeded 12 per cent in the first half of 2018, edging from 11.6 per cent during the same period of 2017. This followed from a 12.1 per cent growth in the gross value added of the gaming industry in the first half of 2018, which compared with a 7.6 per cent growth registered for the economy as a whole. Employment also registered a positive increase, reaching around 6,850 full-time equivalent jobs during the period under review. Over the years the gaming industry has established itself as the third-largest sector in the private economy, exceeding, in terms of size of value added, other sectors which were traditionally major economic pillars. This is a staggering feat, considering that the sector’s history in Malta spans fewer than 20 years. “Malta was the first EU state to regulate the online gaming sector, way back in 2004. Since then, the sector grew from a niche in the technology sector, to a fully-fledged industry, with Malta becoming a major hub globally,” says Reuben Portanier, former CEO of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and now Partner at Afilexion Alliance, which provides the full spectrum of services for iGaming operators.

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SUMMER 2019 COVER STORY

Mr Portanier says that while the 2004 regulatory framework proved to be resilient, the 2018 Gaming Act placed Malta yet again in pole position across Europe. “The new Act was designed to capitalise on the 2004 framework, whilst introducing new concepts specifically aimed at reinforcing Malta’s status as a global hub, with prominence also given to the supporting outfits with the clear scope of further strengthening Malta’s fuller gaming ecosystem.” Has it been successful in doing so? “On paper, the new legislative framework seems to have addressed many areas that required attention. Less than a year has passed since the enactment of the new law, and thus it is still early days to assess its effectiveness and whether further touch-ups would be required.” Of course, since 2004, there have been a great deal of changes that have impacted the way the industry is growing and developing. “Malta’s gaming regulatory framework gradually evolved from 2004 to 2018, with the latter years strengthening the B2B side and responsible gaming,” Mr Portanier continues. “August 2018 saw the enactment of a new regime consolidating land-based and online gaming laws into one Act. The second evolutionary process was on the EU front, with the concept of National Authorisations taking centre stage as opposed to the concept of mutual recognition of licences. The third evolution was a result of the second, which saw the majority of EU states enact their own licensing regimes.” “The landscape has definitely changed from when the industry first started in Malta,” says Alan J. Alden, General Secretary of the Malta Remote Gaming Council (MRGC), which was launched in 2005 to establish a discussion forum for stakeholders within the remote gaming industry. The main change that we have seen is the acceptance at EU level, correctly or incorrectly, that Maltese operators cannot sell their gaming services cross-border. The member states have therefore created their own licensing regimes and the markets in the EU for Maltese operators have diminished. This has resulted in Maltese companies having to apply for licences in various markets and compliance matters have increased considerably. We have also seen the 4th Anti-Money Laundering regulations implemented. Licensed operators are now obliged entities and have to conform with the strict AML regulations.” >

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Mr Alden also makes reference to the introduction of the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the new gaming legislation in Malta. “Even the banks used to knock on our doors to pass gaming operators to them as clients. Now we have to literally knock and beg at bank’s doors and we are losing business to banks abroad too. Compliance departments didn’t exist, now compliance is a major function in all gaming companies and such departments have to deal with various licence conditions and regulations.” “GDPR and information security are already proving to be a headache to the industry – however, the greatest challenges are posed by the complexities associated with multi-jurisdictional compliance,” concurs Afilexion’s Mr Portanier. “Operators are faced with dissimilar compliance requirements in the various EU jurisdictions, placing compliance as a major concern. As Afilexion, we have thus established a dedicated gaming compliance support team, specifically to assist our clients navigate through the multijurisdictional compliance and legal complexities, whilst we have also established partnerships with law firms across Europe for this purpose.”

“Now we have to compete with associations in each jurisdiction where our members have licences,” Mr Alden continues. “It’s also difficult to keep up with the changes that go on, even at ministry level, as there have been quite a few changes over the past years. But we have contributed considerably as a Council on various regulations, guidelines and procedures that come into play locally and at EU level. And we are proud of what we have achieved, especially when one considers that the Board is there on a voluntary basis. We are now a point of reference for various authorities who can affect the industry and not only are reactive but also very proactive.” Indeed, the Council is aiming to become more of a lobby group with the local Government

on any matters that affect the industry directly or indirectly, such as schooling, commercial premises – quality, availability, pricing, residential premises, staff availability, and more. Malta is also becoming increasingly conscious of its role and duty to ensure that the industry is not used as a vehicle for illegality by unscrupulous actors across various European countries. In 2018, it was announced that Maltese gaming authorities will start exchanging anti-Mafia intelligence with their Italian counterparts, the Guardia di Finanza, following a major crackdown that uncovered Malta’s role in a major money laundering racket, which led to the arrest of 68 people and the seizure of over €1 billion in assets across the EU.

“LESS THAN A YEAR HAS PASSED SINCE THE ENACTMENT OF THE NEW LAW, AND THUS IT IS STILL EARLY DAYS TO ASSESS ITS EFFECTIVENESS AND WHETHER FURTHER TOUCHUPS WOULD BE REQUIRED.” Reuben Portanier, Partner, Afilexion Alliance 027

Additionally, in March 2019, Sweden’s Gaming Authority (Spelinspektionen) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the MGA to enhance cooperation between the two regulators, with MGA Chief Executive Heathcliff Farrugia noting that the MGA is always actively seeking to foster relationships with fellow authorities and other international regulatory bodies. “We firmly believe >


SUMMER 2019 COVER STORY

“NO COUNTRY, BANK, OR ECONOMY HAS GONE BANKRUPT BECAUSE OF A GAMING OPERATOR, SO THE HYPE OVER THE RISKS THE INDUSTRY POSES NEED TO BE TONED DOWN AND LOOKED AT REALISTICALLY AND WITH PROPER EVIDENCE PRESENTED.” Alan Alden, General Secretary, Malta Remote Gaming Council Looking ahead, prospects for the industry seem exciting. With Malta working hard to live up to the title of Blockchain Island, having been a worldwide pioneer in enacting comprehensive Digital Ledger Technology (DLT) legislation, blockchain and related technologies could also be a significant part of the future for iGaming companies in Malta. Afilexion’s Mr Portanier says, “through our sister company Caledo, which is a Malta Financial Services Authority-licensed Virtual Financial Assets agent, our plan is to assist gaming operators explore how to exploit blockchain technology, whilst we have fully geared up on Security Token Offerings and Initial Public Offerings.”

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that such relationships are key to reaching our objectives, especially in the area of remote gaming which is fundamentally cross-border in nature,” Mr Farrugia said of the MoU. Yet, while such initiatives are more than commendable, some say that there’s a fine line between regulation and over-regulation. “The reputation of gaming and its acceptance globally is increasing, and its regulation is also increasing,” remarks MRGC’s Mr Alden. “We have to be careful not to over-regulate and understand that this is mainly a large quantity, small amounts, type of operation and the risks can be easily identified and managed. No country, bank, or economy has gone bankrupt because of a gaming operator, so the hype over the risks the industry poses need to be toned down and looked at realistically and with proper evidence presented.”

And while Brexit remains a seemingly unsolvable tangle, Malta’s long-standing history and positive relationship with the UK have allowed it to position itself as a viable co-location for companies based in Britain which still want to operate within the EU after Britain exits the bloc. This includes a number of major iGaming firms which have acquired Maltese licences, including Bet 365, which in May 2019 confirmed plans to relocate some of its core activities due to Brexit from Gibraltar to Malta; William Hill, which is opening an international hub in Malta; as well as 888 Holdings and Lottoland, which have acquired licences from the MGA. All of these developments could certainly prove to be a boon to the industry on the island. However, going forward, one of the challenges that needs to be tackled urgently is the human resources shortage, especially when it comes to specialised roles. “I believe that education should be the key area for Malta to focus on,” says Charlie Williams, Head of Business Development at Computime Software Ltd, which provides infrastructural ICT and ad hoc software solutions to the iGaming industry. “Specifically, better coordination and collaboration between the academic community (University, MCAST, secondary schools) and the industry is required, in order to create a much stronger, future-proof vocational platform that can serve the iGaming and other similar industries during the coming years.” >

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Mr Williams says that the biggest challenge will remain that of finding high-quality IT experts. “This is important for the iGaming operators themselves, but even more so for IT partners like Computime, whose business model depends entirely on the quality of its software developers and engineers. The iGaming sector has enabled us to build new relationships with a number of operators, among which are well-established global players. This provided us with the opportunity to further grow our business by introducing new products and services that can meet the complex ICT requirements of larger organisations. But ironically, most of the time, we are competing with our own clients for talent acquisition and retention. This is a challenge that needs to be managed cautiously, especially when you are a 100-strong team like Computime, operating in Malta’s limited skilled labour market.” MRGC’s Mr Alden continues by highlighting another issue which could become more of a problem further down the line. “Skilled resources are not available locally and it is becoming more expensive and harder to attract people to move to Malta. What worries us is whether we will remain competitive in areas of quality of life, cost of living, quality accommodation and similar issues. This is something that could make us weaker and needs to be tackled very seriously. Let’s hope that Malta as a country remains attractive both for its quality of life and for its standard of living.”

Computime’s Mr Williams says he believes that the industry has scope to grow further – albeit at a slower pace. “I believe that there will be a consolidation phase where the possible outcome could be a smaller number of larger operators. It is important that the Maltese authorities plan well ahead to ensure that Malta as a country remains competitive and attractive to this industry.” In conclusion, Mr Alden stresses that the vital importance of the industry needs to be more adequately recognised. “Gaming helped get Malta into the eurozone and kept the country out of the 2008 recession. It has to be treated with respect. Hopefully, the new regulations and the increased acceptance of the gaming industry will continue to attract more operators to Malta. We also hope that there could be mutual recognition for licensing, and a type of passporting solution put in place so that there is more harmonisation with compliance requirements for operators. I envisage that acquisitions and mergers will continue to dominate the industry, but there will also be new entrants with new ideas and adequate finances to start up a new business. For them, Malta is still the best place to be.”

“BETTER COORDINATION AND COLLABORATION BETWEEN THE ACADEMIC COMMUNITY AND THE INDUSTRY IS REQUIRED, IN ORDER TO CREATE A MUCH STRONGER, FUTUREPROOF VOCATIONAL PLATFORM THAT CAN SERVE THE IGAMING AND OTHER SIMILAR INDUSTRIES DURING THE COMING YEARS.” Charlie Williams, Head of Business Development, Computime Software Ltd

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Driving positive action FOR THE iGAMING INDUSTRY IN MALTA

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n a recent interim performance report on the iGaming industry, published by the Malta Gaming Authority, and covering the period between January to June 2018, a staggering compendium of achievements within the sector was listed: just over €623 million in terms of gross value added was generated in the first half of 2018, representing a 12.1 per cent growth over the same period in 2017; the industry registered an employment of 6,849 full-time equivalent jobs by June 2018 – a rise of 250 since December of the previous year; and the sector contributed almost 12.2 per cent of the total value added of the Maltese economy. Indeed, these successes consolidated the gains achieved in previous years, accomplishments which had earlier pushed the MGA to call Malta “Europe’s most complete gaming eco-system” in their official yearly publication issued last June.

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Photos by Alan Carville

Malta’s iGaming sector has gone from strength to strength over the past decade, but new challenges have arisen as the local economy has continued to evolve. To counter the issues being faced, the iGaming European Network (iGEN) was established, bringing stakeholders together to find common solutions. Here, Rebecca Anastasi speaks to Chairman Enrico Bradamante about the entity’s work.

Yet, this progress has not been without its challenges, with the frenzied drive towards economic profitability, across all local sectors, creating issues which may threaten the sustainability of businesses and corporations set up on the island. To redress such concerns, last June also saw the establishment of the iGaming European Network, otherwise known as iGEN, an industry trade association for the sector which aims to represent the industry based in Malta, identify common issues and lead the way on initiatives “to ensure Malta remains the most appealing European country for the industry,” according to its mission statement.


SUMMER 2019 INTERVIEW

“DECISIONS NEED TO BE MADE RIGHT NOW AND I’M AWARE OF ABOUT A DOZEN COMPANIES WHICH HAVE ALREADY STARTED TO INVEST ELSEWHERE.”

“If you look at the macro dynamics and the economics of the iGaming industry, you’ll notice that, although the industry is still growing, it is not doing so as fast as it was. Rather, it is maturing, both from a perspective of revenue and in terms of the number of employees,” explains Enrico Bradamante, the Chairman of iGEN. “And one of the main reasons I created the entity, with the support of its partner companies, is to create a forum where industry peers can discuss

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and network to try and improve this changing environment we work in, not only for us, but for everyone.” The idea was borne from conversations with business leaders in the sector while Mr Bradamante was still working on-the-ground, within the industry, as Managing Director of NetEnt, a supplier of digitally-distributed gaming systems. “I would have lunch conversations with >


SUMMER 2019 INTERVIEW

“ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS I CREATED THE ENTITY… IS TO CREATE A FORUM WHERE INDUSTRY PEERS CAN DISCUSS AND NETWORK TO TRY AND IMPROVE THIS CHANGING ENVIRONMENT WE WORK IN, NOT ONLY FOR US, BUT FOR EVERYONE.” >

my counterparts – other MDs, founders and CEOs, and we’d talk business. We’d also talk about what was going well for us in Malta, and what could be improved. But then we’d go back to our busy day jobs, and we would not have the time to follow up on these ideas and conversations. So last year I suggested we create a more formal forum in which we could have these conversations, and align ourselves on the common issues we face to try to put more structure around addressing the concerns we have,” he recalls. Today, iGEN brings together 15 of Malta’s leading remote gaming companies: Aspire Global, Bethard, Betsson Group, Catena Media, Casumo, ComeOn!, Gaming Innovation Group (GiG), Kindred Group, Leovegas Mobile Gaming Group, Mr Green, Raketech, Relax Gaming, River iGaming, Tipico and Videoslots. They meet six times annually to discuss those matters which are affecting their businesses the most. One of the most pressing concerns, according to Mr Bradamante, is the steep rise in the cost of living on the island, comprising rent, day-to-day living expenses, as well as entertainment costs, all of which, he says, are directly affecting the ability to attract and retain quality employees, as well as investments, to Malta.

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“The cost of living has increased dramatically, certainly in the six years I’ve been here. And, while I cannot say I have seen an actual decrease in the number of people wanting to come to Malta, awareness of how expensive it is has travelled,” he states. As a result, companies based in Malta have had to increase the wages on offer. “Over the years, the wages have had to go up. If I compare the salaries here to those in other European countries, I’m actually paying more for the skillset in Malta. Yet, those professionals, with the salaries they get, are not being able to make their money stretch, since everything else has gone up.” He points out that remuneration rates in the north of England, for example, are often as low as half of what they are in Malta, while those in the south of Spain are between a third and 50 per cent less than locally; and this may prompt companies to grow there, rather than here. “The idea that iGaming companies and their employees are very rich and generous – and that, no matter what is being asked, they will pay – is a misconception. And, while I don’t think companies will start to move out of the island – since Malta still has a very strong ace with regards to its human capital of iGaming experts and attractive corporate taxation system – there are companies that have already decided to retain key functions on the island but open a centre, and invest in growing the firm elsewhere,” he asserts. Customer support centres and live dealer studios are the most vulnerable to such changes, Mr Bradamante explains, with the roles they require, usually at the lower end of the pay scale, most likely to shift jurisdiction. “So, I don’t think companies will start to move out, but there will be a different mix of employees and the total number of staff might be affected.” These decisions are usually taken swiftly, according to the Chairman,


SUMMER 2019 INTERVIEW

as they thought they would, or they struggle to find schooling for their kids,” he states, going on to underline that the latter has been of “big concern” within the iGaming sector. “I’ve had candidates, for example, who loved Malta and the job, but couldn’t find a school for their children, or they couldn’t find one which has something simple, like an outdoor playing area, and they decide they cannot move to a country where their kids cannot run around outside. This is a clear and present problem.” Malta’s reputation in the international press has also been a source of disquiet for the industry, the Chairman underlines. This, he says, has affected the opinion and perception of job candidates, as well as investors, potential investors and banking partners. “Some of the reputational issues linked to Malta, and alleged corruption, are very well documented in EU studies, with recommendations already having been presented on how to change the system. We are being asked about these more and more in job interviews and also in board meetings. We are being asked questions such as why is our company based in Malta? Why is it still based in Malta?” he says.

since “business owners cannot wait for laws to be passed,” and the pace of change – to remedy any fraught situations – may be too slow. “Decisions need to be made right now and I’m aware of about a dozen companies which have already started to invest elsewhere,” he underlines. Yet, Malta may still prove to be destination of choice for many companies looking for a new base, as a result of Britain leaving the European Union. Indeed, Mr Bradamante states that Malta is already benefitting on “a macro-economic” scale from Brexit as “UK-focused firms” decide to set up operations on the island. On balance, he continues, there are consistently between 700 and 1,000 internal and external job openings within the iGaming industry in Malta, at any one time, and these are still mainly filled with foreign nationals. “Once a foreigner comes to Malta, they either like it, and they stay or, very quickly, I would say within six to 12 months, they decide it isn’t what they thought it was going to be. Perhaps they don’t like it as much

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This has been compounded by the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, he continues. “That was a tragedy, and I think what happened afterwards and what is still happening, or not happening, is a major concern, of mine personally, and of most of us in the industry. It’s a terrible crime and the perception is that it’s not being investigated with the haste and importance that it should have,” he states. He notes they’ve raised these concerns with Government, which has “been explicitly responsive and engaged in the dialogue”. However, although he recognises that things may take long within the legal system, he stresses that actions speak louder than words. “Am I satisfied? Not yet. I’m satisfied with the response and the responsiveness, and I remain hopeful that the situation will improve since this has been raised at EU level, in different fora, and I’m also hopeful as a result of what the Government has shared in some of its statements.” Indeed, Mr Bradamante is at pains to stress that talks with the authorities concerned, about all the challenges facing the sector, have been frank, with iGEN having “a very open and responsive dialogue” with Government and the public sector more broadly. “During the association’s first meeting in June, we put all the key issues on the table, and we, then, proceeded to reach out to the various >


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stakeholders to start driving some action. Government is, of course, key to these conversations and we’ve had an active and very good relationship with Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri and his staff, as well as with GamingMalta,” he explains. A discussion on local educational opportunities afforded to those who are interested in a career in iGaming has also been on the agenda at some of these meetings, Mr Bradamante says. “The best situation for us would be to find loads of programmers here locally, for instance, and to have access to the type of resources that we need in situ so we don’t have to go through the hassle of recruiting from abroad.” In this regard, the Chairman praises the degree programme launched at MCAST, together with GamingMalta. “This new course on gaming is producing its first cohort of graduates – a group of 50. It’s small numbers, for the time being, but you need to start somewhere. The aim, in the long term, is to fill more posts with young, bright graduates, who are full of energy. And, this is all going in the right direction,” he asserts.

“WE’RE WORKING, AND WILL CONTINUE TO WORK, WITH ALL THE NECESSARY PARTIES – GOVERNMENT, THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTORS – TO REALISE EXCITING PROJECTS.”

And, in the year since its inception, iGEN has also scored some wins through its dialogue with the private sector, the Chairman continues, such as the removal of the necessity to present a banking reference when opening an account. “One of the problems we identified from the beginning was the lack of support the iGaming sector receives from the banking industry. Banks have been – and, in some cases, still are – creating difficult processes, which are lengthening the approval of bank accounts for corporations and individuals working within the industry. In some instances, they are simply refusing to open the accounts at all. The presentation of a bank reference was also an issue for younger employees but, after several meetings, we engaged in a good relationship with Bank of Valletta and they have decided to remove this necessity,” he says. Indeed, iGEN’s biggest success has been engaging in this dialogue with all the necessary stakeholders. “Everyone has opened the doors and listened. They’ve taken note of what we are suggesting and, hopefully, some more action and results will come out of it,” he states. The future looks productive, according to the association’s Chairman. “We will be expanding our work, through a number of initiatives, and we want to get more done. We want more concrete results that we can hang on the wall and be proud of. We’re working, and will continue to work, with all the necessary parties – Government, the public and private sectors – to realise exciting projects. This is all work behind the scenes, but any achievements will not only be felt by the iGaming sector, but will, hopefully, be felt more generally,” he concludes.

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eSPO M A LT A ’ S N E X T G R E A T T E C H F R O N T I E R

With the number of people interested in Esports increasing rapidly on the islands, Vanessa Conneely speaks to two experts about what lies ahead.

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n May, more than 18,000 people gathered over three days to attend the island’s biggest Esporting extravaganza – the Malta Robotics Olympiad. Six major international events were held under one roof at the Malta Fairs and Conventions Centre (MFCC) in Ta’ Qali, where spectators and competitors mingled and discussed their passion. So, there is no doubt that the Esporting sector is gaining momentum locally. But some argue that it needs to receive the same level of support from Government as has been given to the iGaming and blockchain industries.

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“Many people regard it as a waste of time and something that cannot lead to anything, with negative effects on health and behaviour,” says Kersten James Chircop, Managing Director of Gamers.com.mt, a company that organises Esporting events in Malta. “But with the help of Government we can start to educate people by demonstrating the benefits of this industry both to the economy and to the labour market, as it opens up numerous career opportunities for upcoming generations.” >

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According to a recent report by gaming industry analytics firm Newzoo, global Esporting revenue will reach almost €1 billion by the end of this year. That’s an increase of 27 per cent over last year. Most of the revenue is expected to come from North America, followed by Europe (38 per cent), China (19 per cent), and South Korea (6 per cent).

According to that same report by Newzoo, while advertising remains the main source of revenue globally, merchandise and ticket sales are also expected to grow 22 per cent to nearly €92 million this year. Newzoo also predicts that the total audience – comprising both enthusiasts and occasional viewers – will increase 15 per cent to 454 million.

“In recent years we saw many positive changes happening in the local Esporting industry, starting with the public itself,” adds Mr Chircop. “People are becoming more aware of this sector, which helps to break the stigma that Esports is a niche market.” More players need more companies to host them, so it’s no surprise that new companies are popping up across the island to facilitate those gaming needs. “We’re seeing more businesses and entities getting involved, mainly in the form of sponsors and event organisers,” continues Mr Chircop. “I know of two main companies – including ours – which are registered with the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA), as well as a couple of other entities that mainly work on a voluntary basis and are slowly building up their communities.” And that sense of community within the sector seems to be working. Mr Chircop believes Esports is already co-existing within the established world of iGaming on the island. “Many iGaming companies are already getting heavily involved in this industry, mostly through sponsorships. Companies like BetWay, UniBet and Pinnacle are getting affiliated with Esports events and teams. We also saw the formation and growth of new iGaming companies focusing solely on Esports betting.”

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SUMMER 2019 IN DEPTH

“MANY IGAMING COMPANIES ARE ALREADY GETTING HEAVILY INVOLVED IN THIS INDUSTRY, MOSTLY THROUGH SPONSORSHIPS.”

So, it’s no surprise that the event held in Ta’ Qali in May was even more popular in its third year. Mr Chircop and his team were at its forefront, playing hosts to the main stage and Esports arena. “The main activities are dedicated events like these, where players compete against each other for cash prizes while having fun playing their favourite games. There are also players who are dedicating more time and are competing at the highest international level, such as Kurt Fenech and Christian Spiteri, who are both full-time FIFA players. In parallel, other opportunities are being created within the industry, ranging from streamers, content writers, video producers and many more.”

Kersten James Chircop, Managing Director, Gamers.com.mt

Mark O’Sullivan, Gaming Advisor at KPMG, is also very excited about Malta’s Esporting future. “I would estimate that there are approximately 20,000 Esports enthusiasts in Malta alone, with Esports awareness sitting at closer to 100,000 people. Malta is uniquely ripe for Esports events. There is a good technical and Internet infrastructure, with an excellent spread of event support companies due to popular, large-scale events like SiGMA, DELTA, the Malta Blockchain Summit, as well as the Esports Festival. From an Esports fan’s viewpoint, Malta is the perfect place for a holiday and to enjoy the unique combination of sun and Esports, with possibilities to add to Malta’s already wellestablished tourism industry. Malta offers strong and reliable Internet speeds, nice hotels and countless bars and restaurants to keep Esports fans occupied before and after events.”

relatively two-dimensional offerings. The crossover of casino games, Esports and video games is an interesting possibility and one which may re-invigorate a somewhat tired industry.” But Mr O’Sullivan is also aware that there is risk involved in growing the industry too quickly and that regulations must be put in place to protect younger players dabbling in the online world.

Mr O’Sullivan also believes that Malta can stay ahead in the market by understanding not only the wants and needs of gamers, but also by understanding the next generation of people placing bets. “For the most part, these are people who are unlikely to venture to the track for a day of horse racing or arguably even to the stadium for a football match. Beyond this, casino operators are looking at ways and means to gamify their

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“There is a justified stigma around the combination of video games and gambling. In truth, it is incredibly important that the lines between the two industries do not become blurred. That said, it is becoming extremely difficult for those under the age of 18 to place a bet, given recent mandates on iGaming operators, stemming from vastly improved age verification and responsible gambling regulations and standards. Taking this into account, when it comes to standard betting, it is fair to place Esports among traditional sports given that both are played by children and adults alike.” >


SUMMER 2019 IN DEPTH

“ALTHOUGH IN ITS INFANCY AT THIS POINT, I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT MALTA CAN BECOME A HUB FOR THE EUROPEAN ESPORTS INDUSTRY.” Mark O’Sullivan, Gaming Advisor, KPMG

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“There is one worrying trend to note which has manifested itself in video games and Esports, and that is skins betting,” Mr O’Sullivan continues. “For those who are not familiar with the term, it is first important to understand the term ‘skins’ on its own. In most online peer-to-peer video games, players may purchase a range of items to be applied to their avatar or character. These items are typically bought using ingame currencies, which were initially bought using fiat currencies. Skins are often disregarded as nothing more than add-ons. ‘Skins betting’ is the term used to describe a wager between players on the outcome of a match or scenario. However, the issue arises when players under the age of 18 (or older to a lesser degree) own the in-game skins and make wagers to accumulate more skins. In order to eventually cash out, players often do so through online exchanges whereby the skins are exchanged for fiat currency. These exchanges operate in a kind of grey market, given that they are not strictly facilitating gambling. I believe revamped regulations are needed in this area of the iGaming, Esports and video games industries, respectively.”

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But overall Mr O’Sullivan feels the future remains bright when it comes to capitalising on the Esporting sector. “Malta has a good track record in developing niche industries with a strong emphasis on technology. In doing so, it has attracted hundreds of suitable multi-national companies to its shores. More recently, some other key niche industries have become the focus of Government leaders responsible for future-proofing Malta, namely video games development studios, Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) development companies. Esports seems a natural extension of Malta’s bustling video games development industry. Although in its infancy at this point, I have no doubt that Malta can become a hub for the European Esports industry.”


SUMMER 2019 FOCUS

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE:

The battleground of the industry With the proliferation of iGaming companies, the customer experience has become the new frontline of the industry, with companies seeking to provide a positive player experience, and excellent communication, which will make them stand out from the crowd. But what does a positive customer experience consist of, and what steps have some of the iGaming companies taken to rise above their competitors? Marie-Claire Grima speaks to two leading Malta-based iGaming companies to find out more.

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he customer experience, often shortened to CX, describes the interaction between an organisation and a customer throughout the course of their relationship. When defining a good customer experience, it generally means that the individual’s experience during all points of contact matches the individual’s expectations, and that the customer has walked away satisfied. If a company is able to deliver an experience that sets it apart in the eyes of its customers, it will increase the amount of consumer spending with the company and inspire loyalty to its brand, keeping them coming back for more. Naturally, this is a priority for iGaming companies fighting to discern themselves in a highly saturated market. Since companies have multiplied over the past few years, with

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many sharing games that are highly similar, if not identical, whether the customer chooses to keep playing on one site or app, or another, depends completely on how they feel while they’re gambling – whether they’re treated as valued clients or whether they feel as if they’re being ignored. And of course, different iGaming companies have varying strategies to tackle their clients’ expectations. “With limited product differentiation and tightening regulation posing challenges to traditional acquisition and retention tactics, customer experience is increasingly becoming the battleground of the sector and runs the

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length of the player life cycle,” says Jackpotjoy Group CEO Simon Wykes. “Where previously, many operators gravitated towards measuring performance largely through the lens of financial metrics, we at Jackpotjoy Group are increasingly taking a longer-term view on customer sustainability as an indicator of success. The centrepiece of sustainability is first and foremost to provide a safe and engaging environment for our players, while keeping responsible gaming control measures and customer support within easy reach. These are fundamentals and form the foundation of sustainability and customer experience across brands and geographies within the Group.” >


SUMMER 2019 FOCUS

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“The importance of good customer support was very different when I started out in this industry some seven years ago,” says Melissa Zalbeigi, Head of Customer Service at Betsson. “Today customers have a plethora of companies to choose from, and if customer service isn’t good, it’s very easy for them to close their account and go play somewhere else. Customer service is the face of the company; it’s a very important job, and today, customers’ expectations are much higher than they were just a couple of years ago. They will compare their customer experience with an iGaming company to their experiences with other tech companies, including, for example, Amazon, Facebook and Airbnb. We keep track of what such companies are doing in terms of customer support as it allows us to understand better what sort of customer support our customers are receiving elsewhere, as well as to provide our customers with the support they need in the way they expect it.” Jackpotjoy Group’s Mr Wykes says that a positive customer experience has multiple facets. “Providing comfort to players that the brands they use are licensed and overseen by relevant authorities is the baseline for a positive customer experience,” he says. In terms of communication, operators should be mindful of frequency and adopt ‘the right messages at the right time’, thinking towards player communication in terms of loyalty rewards and responsible gaming guidance. Localisation of services and product are key aspects towards a positive customer experience. Consequently, the ‘voice of the customer’ is fundamental to how services and products are shaped.

“WE’RE CONSTANTLY TRYING TO REINVENT OURSELVES AS WE STRIVE TO KEEP UP AND EVEN EXCEED CUSTOMERS’ EXPECTATIONS.” Melissa Zalbeigi, Head of Customer Service, Betsson

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“Customers expect fast answers, and a knowledgeable agent to talk to,” says Betsson’s Ms Zalbeigi. “If a customer has to wait for a long time, they don’t like that – and they’re so used to speedy service that even 90 seconds is considered to be ‘a long time’, and they will compare you unfavourably to other companies. We empower our agents to help the customers and provide help right there and then, providing first contact resolution whenever possible. They also get the right kind of training to be able to tailor-make their answers, and show empathy to the customers. And we check the questions that we receive on a weekly basis, to make sure that the customers are getting the answers they’re looking for,” she adds. “Customers could easily not bother to reach out and simply walk away. We’re constantly trying to reinvent ourselves as we strive to keep up and even exceed customers’ expectations.” Ms Zalbeigi explains that there are different layers to Betsson’s customer support team, including the senior agents, the second-line team, as well as the responsible gaming team who ensure that players are gambling >


SUMMER 2019 FOCUS

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within their means and according to their normal rates. “We have lots of young people working in customer support – for many of them it’s their first job. They need to have a passion for helping people, and we can teach them the rest. We cover how different brands and offices work, provide soft skills training, and allow them to shadow established team members. Once they’re out on the floor, we regularly test their skills to see if they’re in line with the Betsson standard, and refreshers are done regularly.” “The thing to remember is that one size does not fit all,” remarks Mr Wykes. “There are significant regional differences in product and services preference to observe. Failure to do so will likely lead to abandonment by players.” He shares that Jackpotjoy Group is responding to the challenge of staying relevant across a vast variety of geographies by continuously introducing algorithmic support and machine learning technologies to deliver the product and services players expect. “Additionally, we are stepping up our efforts to expand capabilities in areas of behavioural analytics and early detection of potentially harmful behaviour to ensure that the customers continue to experience a fun and casual gaming environment.”

“THERE ARE SIGNIFICANT REGIONAL DIFFERENCES IN PRODUCT AND SERVICES PREFERENCE TO OBSERVE. FAILURE TO DO SO WILL LIKELY LEAD TO ABANDONMENT BY PLAYERS.” Simon Wykes, CEO, Jackpotjoy Group

Ms Zalbeigi also states that in 2018 and 2019, Betsson has been investing heavily in different ways to make it easier for customers to get in touch. Customers, for example, can request a call back, where they let the company know what their issue is, and arrange to be called back at a particular time. Then, there’s also the use of technology to answer queries more efficiently. “For example, our powerful AI tool, Ada, can answer all the questions that don’t need to go to the back office. We’ve populated the bot with common queries, and it can answer many questions without needing a human agent. Customers can let us know whether the help they received from Ada was good or not, and so far it’s been going well – it’s decreased our contact rates a lot.” Betsson Group is surely on the right track when it comes to its customer support as it has won several awards, including Customer Support of the Year for four consecutive years at the prestigious eGaming Review (EGR) Nordic Awards. “A lot of effort has been allocated towards establishing long-term sustainable customer relationships and we are beginning to see the results from these efforts,” Mr Wykes concludes. “Our ability to channel customer feedback from our experienced customer support staff back into the product and services parts of the organisation creates a loop of continuous improvement and responsiveness that sets Jackpotjoy Group apart.”

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SUMMER 2019 EXPATS

Life is

beautiful

Photos by Alan Carville

WHEN YOU CHOOSE TO SEE THE GOOD THINGS

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SUMMER 2019 EXPATS

Throughout her 14-year career in the gaming sector, Zimbabwean South African Megan Easey lived in several different countries before relocating to Malta, along with her miniature schnauzer, Robert. She talks to Sarah Micallef about the journey that led her here, and what she loves most about her new home.

In my time on this planet I’ve lived in a few different countries, so I’m something between a gypsy and a global citizen,” the vibrant Megan Easey smiles. But while she admits to being “pretty much happy wherever I land,” she officially immigrated to Malta nearly two years ago. Looking affectionately at her miniature schnauzer Robert, she laughs, “I promised him when we landed that there’s absolutely no way we’re leaving again!” Having worked within the gaming industry for 14 years, Megan has lived in Malta for brief periods twice before. “I lived here for the first time in 2007 for two years, then I came back for a year in 2015,” she says, explaining that it was work which brought her here initially.

“I FELT A CONNECTION WITH THE PLACE, AND I THINK IT HAS TO DO WITH THE SEA.” 051

“I’ve had the opportunity to live in a number of countries doing gaming – I’ve lived in London, Spain and Dublin,” she says, but admits feeling a different kind of connection with Malta. “I felt a connection with the place, and I think it has to do with the sea,” she muses. So much so that Megan lists the sea as number one on her list when it comes to positives about living in Malta, followed by safety and the island’s quirks. “It’s incredibly quirky and I love that. It feels like it’s almost in line with my personality – there’s this eccentric edge to it, which is great!” As Improvement Officer at online casino Videoslots, Megan explains that she has chosen to focus her life on “being around people, inspiring them, seeing them succeed, and growing continuously,” adding that she is passionate about accepting the bad with the good, promoting love and tolerance. “I’m not a hippie by any stretch of the imagination,” she laughs, “I’m very practical and logical, but I want to positively influence others.” >


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So, I ask, why choose the gaming industry? “It gives me the opportunity to work with a lot of different people,” she says, explaining that she started off in a contact centre environment. “For me, those teams of people who were being led by team leaders, and then by an operations manager… there was so much opportunity there for me to coach, mentor and guide individuals into having a positive effect on others. There’s a beautiful human side to it.” Meanwhile, from a product and operational perspective, she adds, “it’s incredibly fast moving and interesting, and because the industry has made such a positive change when it comes to compliance, that has meant staying for me.”

“MALTA IS INCREDIBLY QUIRKY AND I LOVE THAT. IT FEELS LIKE IT’S ALMOST IN LINE WITH MY PERSONALITY – THERE’S THIS ECCENTRIC EDGE TO IT, WHICH IS GREAT!” have a clear view on the customer journey and focus on where we can do better. From a human perspective, it allows me to objectively establish, by building relationships with people, what it is that they want to develop in themselves – so I’ve got this amazing balance between the two,” she says. Outside of the office, Megan spends a lot of her time exploring the islands with Robert. “We drive all around the island on weekends. We do hikes on Sundays, and a lot of the time we do it on our own! Balancing the high interaction in my job means that I can be quite a hermit at the weekend,” she laughs.

Possessing an unmistakable aura, Megan exudes a vibrant positivity – an air which I comment on, asking, what keeps her going to work with a smile on her face, every day? “I always arrive with a smile,” she laughs. “I see myself as having a responsibility to myself to be happy, and also a responsibility to others. It’s specifically my role at Videoslots, and it’s actually the first time I’ve heard of such a role in the industry!”

It also allows her to discover new places, some of which are becoming firm favourites. “I love St Thomas Bay in Marsascala – we go there at least twice a month. I take water for him and a can of beer for me, and find a spot for the two of us to relax after a nice walk. I read and he sleeps – it’s great!”

Elaborating on her role as Improvement Officer, Megan maintains that her experience working across multiple segments of the industry over the years has put her in a unique position. “I’ve come full circle, and that allows me to

When it comes to meeting up with friends, Megan enjoys going to art galleries and the theatre – “I love the cinema bar in Valletta!” – and having recently moved to Naxxar, has found an affinity with the café culture there. “I love taking a book along and going for a coffee

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on a Saturday morning. I believe in well-being, so I also have an amazing trainer and enjoy training outside – I like to be out and active,” she says. Yet while it’s clear that Megan loves her new island home, that’s not so say she doesn’t miss elements of her roots. Indeed, her connection with South Africa will always run deep, Megan maintains, recalling, “I will always remember 1994, when we could have the first free and fair election. I turned 18 in January, so in April, I remember standing in line, and I’ll never forget the feeling of selecting Nelson Mandela, and dropping that into the box. It was a huge moment,” she smiles. “From that perspective, I miss the rainbow nation and the

connection with people I’ve known since I was a child. My grandmother passed away last year, and she was my mentor and my world… perhaps the person I longed for most. I had actually brought her and my mum to Malta in 2008 and we went parasailing – she was 76 years old at the time! She was a truly beautiful human.”

“BECAUSE THE INDUSTRY HAS MADE SUCH A POSITIVE CHANGE WHEN IT COMES TO COMPLIANCE, THAT HAS MEANT STAYING FOR ME.” And now that Malta has been home for a couple of years, Megan knows it well, but is there anything that surprises her about living here? “The sheer number of beautiful places!” she exclaims. “There’s just so many things that you can stop and look at – from the detail of a building to the way someone’s hung their washing up in Valletta, or the incredible views in Xlendi… it is continuously beautiful when you choose to see the good things.”

M E GA N ’ S FAVO U R I T E S Movie: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou directed by Wes Anderson, and Carol, which is just magnificent. Restaurant: I love sitting outside at Ocean Basket – it’s South African! Otherwise Taproom or Trabuxu in Valletta. Thing to order at a bar: Beer Place for a weekend getaway: Gozo, definitely. I love the area of San Lawrenz. Artist: Stevie Nicks Maltese expression: “Hekk hu” or “Mhux hekk” Sport: Scuba diving or snorkelling Designer: Desigual

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SUMMER 2019 KNOW

Malta in numbers

POPULATION

TIME

475,700 GMT +1 (94 per cent Maltese, 6 per cent foreign)

CURRENCY

INTERNATIONAL DIALING CODE

EURO

+356

AREA

AVERAGE YEARLY TEMPERATURE

316 KM²

23OC (day)

MALTA’S ECONOMY GDP GROWTH

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

per cent

per cent

5.6

3.8

INFLATION

CREDIT RATING

per cent

with positive outlook (Fitch)

1.6

A+

DEBT TO GDP

54.9 per cent

FLYING FROM MALTA TO 1 HOUR 30 MINS

ROME

2 HOURS 40 MINS

PARIS

3 HOURS 15 MINS

LONDON

3 HOURS 10 MINS

AMSTERDAM 3 HOURS 45 MINS

STOCKHOLM

Sources: Eurostat, National Statistics Office (NSO), AirMalta

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SUMMER 2019 INTERVIEW

“It’s all about the relationship” Adam Woodley is a man on a mission. As Head of Global Recruitment at Betsson Group, he and his team are at the frontline in the war for talent – promoting the Betsson company culture and all the interesting job positions, and at the same time making sure to select the best talent in line with the company goals and values. iGaming Capital catches up with him.

“Recruitment today is a key area to any company,” Mr Woodley states. “In order to achieve the business goals, you need to have the right people in place.” He claims that it has become less and less about volume, and more about finding the right fit. “Quality has always been important, but now we see that we are really being strategic when we choose what kind of profiles we want to hire. What we find at Betsson Group is that a lot more people are interested in working for the business. So far in 2019, we received an average of 2,500 applications per month,” he shares. One strong trend that Mr Woodley observes is that several ex-Betssonites are reaching out to him and to the rest of the recruitment team. “I have several ongoing conversations with former employees who are looking to come back to Betsson. They are checking in regularly and asking us to keep a lookout for positions that might suit them,” he says. This year, the company already had 17 people

returning globally, after spending some time with other employers. The explanation could very well lie in the strong and positive company culture that Betsson has developed over the last year. “We want to be the employer of choice and everybody at Betsson has worked hard to reach the level where we are today. As for the boomerangs, we are pleased because these are people we want to return, who have skillsets and stand for the same values as we do, and that we would love to have back,” Mr Woodley states. It’s about building a long-term liaison with potential, current and ex-employees, and for that it’s key to keep in touch, Mr Woodley explains. “Gone are the days when the relationship with an employee started when they apply for a position and ended when they leave the company. Today it’s a fluid, continuous cycle, without a beginning or an end, starting long before the first application with potential employees interacting with us at events or in social media and continuing after they move on. We call it the employee experience and it encompasses the entire time an employee interacts with the company – no matter how long or short the actual employment is,” Mr Woodley explains. Right now, Betsson Group is focusing extensively on internal recruitment. “This

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Photos by Alan Carville

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he Betsson Group employer brand is stronger than it ever was. With thousands of job applications received each month, the key is to select the right talent, and to keep the conversation with current and potential employees going. Head of Global Recruitment Adam Woodley is sure about one thing: it’s all about the relationship.


SUMMER 2019 INTERVIEW

“QUALITY HAS ALWAYS BEEN IMPORTANT, BUT NOW WE SEE THAT WE ARE REALLY BEING STRATEGIC WHEN WE CHOOSE WHAT KIND OF PROFILES WE WANT TO HIRE.”

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SUMMER 2019 INTERVIEW

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is something we really believe in as a company,” Mr Woodley says. “External recruitment may seem like you’re getting something shiny and new, but it is dawning on a lot of companies that it is as good, if not better, to upscale current employees, giving them a chance to grow. And we’re not just talking linear development to a higher position, but also to broaden their skills.” A company like Betsson, with 900 people on its books in Malta, 10 locations across the globe and 1,700 employees worldwide, can of course offer more career possibilities than many others. “At Betsson we see every employee as an individual, with individual needs and wants. Therefore, the journey that each employee takes with us, the Betsson employee experience I mentioned above, differs. Depending on who you are, you may be interested in different career paths and development opportunities.” And Betsson has various initiatives to ensure complete focus on the internal candidate journey. “It’s all about creating a VIP experience for the internal applicant. It should be easier and more appealing to apply for a job with Betsson than to go looking elsewhere,” he asserts. Central to the internal career project is the creation of a portal where employees can apply for a job, get more information about the teams and the projects they would join, find contacts and overall receive some special attention. “We are also looking to have a career coach and a career fair to give employees guidance and empower them, so they have the tools and support they need to progress their career in the direction they desire,” Mr Woodley explains.

“DIVERSITY, TO US, IS A NATURAL PART OF THAT MIX. WE ARE LOOKING FOR TALENT THAT BENEFITS OUR BUSINESS, AND FOR PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT AND CARRY OUR CULTURE – THE BETSSON GROUP CULTURE.” Mr Woodley explains that the aim of the referral scheme is twofold. “It encourages staff to think about good people they know about. They are rewarded financially, and their voices are heard. This programme is one way to show that we value the opinion of our Betssonites highly.” At the same time, hires who come recommended tend to stay longer with the business and are generally very accomplished. “They really prove themselves and it’s not far-fetched to think that they want to do right by the friend or former colleague who vouched for them,” Mr Woodley explains. So, how does one go about landing a job at Betsson Group? “We hire on skills, of course, but also massively on the cultural fit,” Mr Woodley says. With over 50 nationalities working at Betsson Group, one might wonder what that fit is. “It’s all about finding the right mix, the right match – both for the team and the company at large. Diversity, to us, is a natural part of that mix. We are looking for talent that benefits our business, and for people who support and carry our culture – the Betsson Group culture – no matter what country or background they may have. Our three values – one Betsson, passion and fair play – are strongly integrated into the heart of our culture and embraced by everyone regardless of background or nationality!”

The company has already had 20 per cent internal hires this year, promotions not included, and, with the increased focus, it is hoping to increase this number. Moreover, the company encourages Betssonites to refer people they know for an open position. “We firmly believe that great people know great people,” Mr Woodley states. “We have a really successful referral scheme which awards Betssonites who refer candidates they know for open positions, and we’ve seen record numbers of participation. In fact, one in three of the hires this year has been via referral.”

“We see the diversity this brings to our company as one of the cornerstones of our business. We know that multi-cultural teams, with people from different backgrounds and with different experiences, are the backbone of innovation. Not to mention that it is more fun to work in a diverse environment.” >

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SUMMER 2019 INTERVIEW

ABOUT BETSSON ACADEMY

Betsson Academy is Betsson Group’s payed work placement for students.

“The ambition with our internship programme is twofold,” says Annica Lindquist, Learning and Development Coordinator. “First of all, the students who work for us during the summer get an insight into the iGaming business in general and into working for Betsson Group in particular.” “They are integrated into a team and get to see what a working day at Betsson is like and what career paths are available. At the same time, they contribute to our business by bringing new ideas and being a breath of fresh air,” she shares. Now in its fifth,year, Betsson Academy has never been more popular. “The interest is indeed booming – we had over 400 applicants this year,” Ms Lindquist says, and explains that a novelty for this round is that the programme is open to other departments and not just Tech. “This year we have positions such as Designer, Marketing Analyst and Business Analyst within the Finance Department available – 17 in total,” she outlines. Many of the summer interns go on to get a full-time job at Betsson Group once they have finished the programme. “That is the ultimate goal, to find talent who will be able to start working with us in parallel with or after they have finished their studies,” she explains.

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“WE FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT GREAT PEOPLE KNOW GREAT PEOPLE.” induction is designed to give the new hires a flying start and a concrete foundation to stand on,” Mr Woodley explains.

As for the recruitment process itself, Mr Woodley says it also differs. “We do not have a one-size-fits-all recruitment process. It is tailored and different from department to department. We need to strike the balance between having a robust process but one without too many steps, since time to hire is the name of the game and speed is imperative,” he explains.

The global in-house recruitment team consists of five recruiters in Malta, two in Stockholm and one in Budapest. The global spread makes sense, since attracting local talent is key. “Our employer brand is strong, which attracts people from many different countries,” Mr Woodley says. With a Tech Department consisting of over 450 people and over 300 in the Commercial Department, the members of the recruitment team specialise in different roles to be able to give the best possible service to the business. But they have one thing in common, he shares: “our recruiters are all very inclusive and have a positive outlook. Treating everybody with respect is indisputable. The experience of the applicants is crucial, and the recruiters are well aware that the impression they leave is fundamental.”

At Betsson, the time from application to being offered the job is less than 30 days. “We need to have the best process, the most efficient possible, and at the same time move ahead without cutting any corners,” he states. Candidates are positive about a rigorous process, Mr Woodley says. That way they feel they have been challenged and really earned the reward of being hired at the end. “We need to make sure that every step in the process is a positive experience for the candidate.” Once a person is selected for a role, Betsson Group’s extensive three days onboarding process, which introduces the new Betssonites to C-level managers, company history and processes, as well as departments and products, begins. “The

“Any applicant, whether they get the job or not, is an ambassador for us and a ‘no’ is not the end of the conversation. On the contrary, the relationship is still ongoing,” Mr Woodley continues. Mr Woodley explains that just because someone was not chosen for a particular position this time around, that does not mean that there will not be other opportunities in the future. “Always keep the door open,” Mr Woodley concludes.

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SUMMER 2019 INDUSTRY

When it comes to growing his company’s future in iGaming, there is no better base than Malta for Toni Halonen. He tells Jo Caruana why.

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Photos by Alan Carville

“Malta is the best iGaming hub in the world”


SUMMER 2019 INDUSTRY

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or Toni Halonen – the CEO of locallybased affiliate company Good Game Ltd – the iGaming sector was 100 per cent behind his reason to choose Malta. Back in 2011, Malta was one of the only places his team knew of in Europe that was offering licences to gaming companies, and they made the choice between Gibraltar and Malta. “To me, that decision came down to the fact that Malta offers a much more vibrant environment for social and business life,” he says.

“CONNECTIONS, DEALS, INNOVATION: THESE ARE THE BEST THINGS ABOUT MALTA FOR SURE.” “Oh, and our majority-Finnish employees love the weather too, of course! It’s quite different when compared to what they were used to back home.”

In fact, Mr Halonen goes so far as to say that Malta is the best iGaming hub in the world. “You can meet face-to-face with so many gaming companies every day,” he explains. “If the companies aren’t based here, then you can meet them at the SiGMA gaming conference. Connections, deals, innovation: these are the best things about Malta for sure.”

In fact, Malta’s lifestyle aspect is certainly high on Mr Halonen’s list of reasons to be here. He says he enjoys living on the island, and believes most of his team feel the same way.

Beyond that, Mr Halonen explains that there is also a very experienced iGaming workforce to hand here when needed. “Plus, collectively, there is such a great infrastructure in place. From the gaming lawyers and regulators, to the finance companies that specialise in gaming, and the possible partners and co-founders for you to start your company with, everyone is on hand. There’s also the bandwidth and hosting providers that are specialised in gaming, as well as investors looking to invest in gaming, so it all works very holistically. In addition to the great infrastructure that Mr Halonen highlights, he explains that the hub has also brought with it strong competition. “This is forcing companies to create even better products, which is eventually benefiting the end users,” he says. “So that is extremely positive.”

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“I had lived in Spain before I moved here, so everything was quite as I expected it to be,” he continues. “The most surprising thing has been the speed of development Malta has gone through over the past few years. It has taken the iGaming and blockchain bulls by the horns and is really shaping what is going on in these industries, rather than waiting to see what will happen like so many other, bigger countries. Luck favours the brave and that’s why things are now going well for Malta.” Moving on to speak about his company’s own plans, Mr Halonen says that Good Game Ltd is currently concentrating on the UK market with its project Bojoko, which is an online casino comparison site. Over the next few months, however, the company plans to start expanding from the UK to other jurisdictions, and eventually plans to build Good Game and Bojoko to be the leading brands in iGaming. >


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“In a nutshell, Bojoko works like Airbnb for online casinos,” he explains. “We are building a platform where our users, players and casinos can create content with us.” “On Bojoko the casinos can list themselves and handle their own reviews. Besides controlling their review, they can also post casino offers. Whenever they have a promotion going on, they can let Bojoko users know about it. There is no need to chase the affiliate for promotions anymore.” “For players we have built tools for casino selection. They can also leave user reviews about casinos, game providers and games. By reviewing, players let casinos know what they are doing right and what needs fixing. User-created content gives more control to casinos over their own brands and marketing. It should eventually lead to better player experiences as well.” The site is certainly doing well. In December it was nominated in three categories at the iGB Affiliate Awards; by May this year Bojoko had amassed over 300 online casinos listed on its platform. Explaining that success – both recent and over time – Mr Halonen highlights how Good Game has concentrated most of its efforts on casino affiliation since 2013. Since then, it built two market-leading casino sites in Finland, before selling them on in 2015 and 2017.

“LUCK FAVOURS THE BRAVE AND THAT’S WHY THINGS ARE NOW GOING WELL FOR MALTA.” “Compared to our competitors, we focus more on the user experience,” he says. “We build tools that solve their problems quickly and intuitively. Usually, these problems relate to casino selection; with Bojoko we want to take this many steps further.” And as he builds that, Mr Halonen sees Malta’s relationship with iGaming – and thus his company’s relationship with Malta – as becoming even deeper than it is now. “iGaming, together with Malta, will benefit the blockchain industry and there will be a gradual symbiosis between all of them,” he says. “Other jurisdictions regulating iGaming will bring pressure for companies to move parts of their operations to those countries. Malta can tackle this by growing the connections in their gaming hub. The network itself is more valuable than the sum of its parts.”

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So, as he looks to the future of iGaming in Malta, he stresses that things are pretty good right now. Of course there are some improvements that should be made, especially with regards to how iGaming companies’ growing demand for a skilled workforce is met, how office space demand – especially for start-ups – is met, and how general quality of life is improved in light of issues like traffic and housing. “Nevertheless, when we consider all the parts, we couldn’t be happier with our choice of bringing our business to Malta, and look forward to a long and fruitful relationship going forward,” he adds.


SUMMER 2019 PRESS

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19th century building of the Old Royal Naval Bakery. Besides its historical value, this venue is enriched with a beautiful terrace which overlooks romantic views of the Birgu marina.

pecial days are all about making a great impression, creating good memories which last, getting noticed and standing out from the crowd. Choosing the ideal venue for your occasion will certainly have the largest impact on the final outcome of your event. With its unique historical sites and locations, Heritage Malta can provide you with an unrivalled selection of places which will guarantee you a successful experience.

The historical garden, the Castellania Courtyard, and the Cardinal’s Hall at the Inquisitor’s Palace in Birgu can offer alternative sites for activities ranging from al fresco occasions to corporate events, and from product launches to standing receptions. A former seat of power, this solemn architectural gem provides a remarkable palatial setting which never fails to impress.

Ranging from the grounds of the megalithic temples which are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, to historical palaces and fortresses, Heritage Malta’s sites cannot fail to charm your guests. You simply need to determine your requirements and our professional team will guide you on how to achieve your aspirations.

The farmhouse’s indoor and outdoor areas at Ta’ Bistra in Mosta are located on the archaeological site of a Paleo Christian complex of catacombs. Designed to receive smaller audiences, this site is also furnished with a children’s playground area. Meanwhile, the tunnel connecting the two sections of the catacombs is a truly original location if you wish to surprise your guests.

Creating the right ambience for your special occasion is imperative. The areas . surrounding the UNESCO megalithic sites of Hagar Qim . in Qrendi, the Tarxien Temples in Tarxien, and the Ggantija Temples in Xagħra, Gozo, all have their unique character which can be adapted for different occasions. Moreover, they all share that fascinating appeal of monumental, ancient structures which have survived for millennia.

The Audio-Visual Hall, the Children’s Pavilion, and the outdoor areas of St Paul’s Catacombs in Rabat, Malta, are available for particular events. The hall is fully equipped with a cinema set-up, including a high-end projector and screen. The children’s area is a colourful space within an interesting historical setting. The outside area is optimal for receptions, nature trails or meditation sessions.

The Grand Salon of the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta is all about elaborate sophistication and class. Dating back to the 16th century and housed in the Auberge de Provence, the richly painted walls and the wooden beamed ceiling of this magnificent room still permeate the glamour of the noble Knights of St John. A venue fit for a grand ball! On the other hand, the reception area is ideal for book launches and receptions.

The striking historical sites of Fort St Elmo and Fort St Angelo are a breed of their own. Bold and dominant, they offer a variety of spaces which are ideal for different uses including concerts, corporate events, dinners, fashion shows, product launches, receptions, wine tasting sessions and weddings. Their strength lies in the mighty historical backdrops which overlook overwhelming sea views that change their colourful tones at sunset.

The Vilhena Palace front courtyard, which forms part of the National Museum of Natural History in Mdina, also resonates the elegance and grandiosity of the Order of St John. By selecting this site, you will give a Baroque taste to your event, whilst enjoying the allure of the silent city of Mdina.

Luxurious, exclusive, magical, enchanting, stunning. Such are the lingering sensations which your guests will relish when you opt for any of the distinctive sites of Heritage Malta. More information is available on Heritage Malta’s venues section www.exclusivevenues.org or by sending an email to E: info@heritagemalta.org

St Angelo Hall at the Malta Maritime Museum in Birgu is a multi-purpose space housed within the

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SUMMER 2019 PROPERTY

RE/MAX Malta:

WE KNOW THE IGAMING SECTOR BETTER THAN ANYONE 070


SUMMER 2019 PROPERTY

“THERE ARE NOW SOME FANTASTIC PROPERTIES ON THE MARKET THAT REALLY FULFIL THE TOP-LEVEL REQUIREMENTS OF THOSE IN IGAMING.”

Photos by Alan Carville

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With a solid background servicing both the property sales and lettings requirements of the iGaming sector, RE/MAX Malta has long led the way in this dynamic sphere. Now, a new dedicated lettings franchise is set to propel the company’s offering even further, as Jo Caruana finds out.

he iGaming sector literally revolutionised the Maltese rental market when it first arrived here over a decade ago. At the time, rental business was just a side business for locals; Maltese culture hadn’t yet embraced the opportunity to invest in rental properties to service the market. But now, after a 15-year period that has completely transformed the property sector across a number of spheres, the letting industry is ripe – and RE/MAX Malta remains key to that success story. “I think we saw the value in rental long before many other companies did,” explains Jeff Buttigieg, one of the RE/MAX Malta founders. “So, when the iGaming sector first made in-roads into Malta, we were best-placed to be able to service it – and we have continued to update and perfect our offering ever since.” Because 60 per cent of iGaming employees are foreign, it is no surprise that they require rental properties on the island, as well as other advice to facilitate settling in. Edward Agius, RE/MAX’s Regional Lettings Manager, explains that RE/MAX Malta pioneered the real estate concierge service that many incoming gaming companies have gone on to use as a means for helping their teams to integrate into life locally, and to have all the information needed to build a life here. >

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“We have helped countless iGaming companies and their teams over the years – with everything from finding an office in a great location, to getting their team members set up with somewhere to live, and even helping them to get connected to the Internet, find a cleaner or to discover the best local restaurants. We believe this holistic approach makes all the difference in those important first few weeks, and it has helped us to build strong relationships with the iGaming world that has ensured we have stayed very much connected to it,” Mr Agius says.

courses will be delivered daily to train new recruits that will be specialised in the letting industry. We have already hired a training manager to focus exclusively on the lettings market, giving them the time to cope with the anticipated growth within the industry.”

Of course, it helps that RE/MAX Malta also has the largest property database on the island – and plans are in place to further solidify this and to grow the company’s rental capacity even further. In fact, with the company’s Regional Lettings Manager Edward Agius at the helm, RE/MAX Lettings Malta foresees that it will open over 10 dedicated lettings offices by the end of the year, and that each office will house an average of 10 to 12 letting agents. “This will create a dedicated workforce of over 120 lettings-specialised agents; a definite first for Malta,” Mr Agius says. “RE/MAX Lettings Malta will be operating from a dedicated office, which will also be the home of our real estate academy, where real estate-specific

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And that anticipated growth is already bearing fruit. Mr Agius highlights how RE/MAX Malta continues to receive almost-constant requests from iGaming companies setting up in Malta – each with its own unique requirements. “From the very early days, the iGaming sector really raised the standard of letting properties in Malta,” he says. “This is because the renters that came with it were looking for quality – bright and airy homes with plenty of space, modern furnishings >


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and good connectivity. For a while, the property sector struggled to keep up and demand hugely outweighed supply. Today, that has evened out a bit, and there are now some fantastic properties on the market that really fulfil the top-level requirements of those in iGaming.”

“Flat sharing, though, is also on the up. We are seeing friends and colleagues choosing to rent together, as this means they can afford even more luxurious properties on their combined wage, and live where they want to.”

In fact, just recently RE/MAX Malta was approached by one of the leading iGaming companies in the world which went on to rent three floors within a large commercial office block. “However, they realised they would outgrow that base before they had even moved in, so actually rented the fourth floor too. We are definitely still seeing this kind of growth and investment.” Asked about the trends he expects to see in the months to come, Mr Agius says that, overall, it will be more of the same. “iGaming renters are looking for luxury at a good price. These days, they are considering living more centrally – as opposed to just in St Julian’s or Sliema – as they then rent a car or use the car sharing service to get around.

“As with all trends in the sector, we stand ready to be able to respond exactly as the market needs us to, and to anticipate those needs too. We take great pride in knowing that we have facilitated the iGaming industry’s relationship with Malta since its early days, and look forward to evolving with it in the years to come.”

“WE ARE SEEING FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES CHOOSING TO RENT TOGETHER, AS THIS MEANS THEY CAN AFFORD EVEN MORE LUXURIOUS PROPERTIES ON THEIR COMBINED WAGE, AND LIVE WHERE THEY WANT TO.”

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“WE ARE UPGRADING OUR BUSINESS CLASS TO A NEW LEVEL.”

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The future airline of the Mediterranean Air Malta Chairman Dr Charles Mangion talks to Vanessa Conneely about how the airline successfully managed to turn around its operations to become profitable, as well as his strategy to keep it that way.

The history of aviation is littered with airline bankruptcies, and in recent years we have seen several big airlines fold – companies such as Air Berlin, Monarch Airlines and Cobalt. Air Malta operates in this cutthroat aviation industry and the fact that it is still flying after 45 years is an achievement in itself,” says Dr Charles Mangion, Chairman of Air Malta. The Chairman of Malta’s national airline came on board two years ago. Following a career as a politician and managing a legal/notarial office, he now spends most of his time working out how to get Air Malta to soar above its competitors. “I believe Air Malta has an obligation towards this nation. Air Malta connects the country to the mainland and, in my opinion, reliable and frequent connectivity between the island of Malta and the rest of the world remains Air Malta’s primary objective. Nevertheless, this objective needs to be realised in a competitive and selfsustainable manner – thus productivity, efficiency and professionalism have to be evidently manifested at all levels within the company. Furthermore, it must be understood that the expectations of airline customers are changing and therefore we have to adapt to change.”

However, change can come with turbulence, as Dr Mangion has experienced frequently since stepping into his role. “It’s a legacy airline and it has its legacy issues. People are always reluctant to adapt to change. When I entered the scene in 2017 as Chairman, I told people, ‘if we don’t adapt to change, let’s just close the airline right away.’ At the time, Air Malta had just completed the restructuring project executed with the blessing of the European Union and whose main objective was to render the airline viable. The restructuring process dealt with the downsizing of the workforce. In view of the evolution of the aviation industry, primarily the challenges brought about by the LCC, a long-term commercial strategy had to be implemented within the company – things needed to change.” >

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“IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS WE HAVE INCREASED OUR PASSENGER COUNT BY 300,000 AND WE ARE AIMING FOR ANOTHER 300,000 INCREASE THIS YEAR.” >

“Today the staff see the company growing again, and they know the direction we have taken. They also know that we all need to work hard every day to survive. It’s a sales and yield-driven industry to be further enhanced by proper cost management and professional services. These processes need to be the driving forces within the company in order to overcome the current and future challenges. In line with this line of thinking we planned to overhaul our fleet to become more efficient. Over the last 12 months we added two aircraft – bringing our fleet to 10 – as well as added 25 routes, which will bring us up to 42 destinations this summer. Within five years, all our current fleet will be replaced largely by the Airbus A320neo which, apart from offering more efficiency and better economy and performance, will also secure homogeneous configurations. We operate 18,000 flights a year. In the past 12 months we have increased our passenger count by 300,000 and we are aiming for another 300,000 increase this year. That will bring our total number to 2.3 million passengers yearly. We also managed to increase the frequency of flights to our key destinations, namely London, Paris and Munich, and we have started to regain market share. All these initiatives are underpinned by our strategy for growth and enhanced efficiencies.” “Moreover, we commenced the implementation of our customer-driven policy. We introduced our Go-Light brand which, apart from offering customers the facility to travel just with their hand luggage, is more flexible, giving them the ability to ‘build’ the experience they want.” “We are upgrading our Business Class to a new level. We think that the Business Class is an area which deserves more attention as it has a potential for growth and better yield. Being more customer-service orientated will enhance the airline legacy characteristic while remaining at the same time attractively competitive.”

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Dr Mangion now wants to focus on the future and has a clear five-year plan. He uses the word ‘connectivity’ a lot when describing how he sees Air Malta playing to its strengths, in arguably one of the toughest industries in business. And one advantage he thinks Malta has over other countries is its location. “We are very lucky to be so close to North Africa, hence we can provide service to Morocco, Tunis and Cairo, as well as Tel Aviv. This gives us a better link to reach the southern flank of the Mediterranean and the rest of Europe. We are aiming to become the ‘Airline of the Mediterranean’. We are also looking at exploring the Sub-Saharan region. Following the opening of the Embassy in Ghana to facilitate the visa issue, Air Malta is in talks with the government in Ghana to view the possibility of opening a route to the country.” Dr Mangion takes a very holistic approach when it comes to predicting the future. He does this by looking at the link between Malta’s diversified economic growth, the increased demand for new and better jobs, and the demand for improved and free healthcare services – these all contribute to a growing population. “This is the scope behind the call for better connectivity. Every new economic sector, as well as existing ones, offers new opportunities and makes new demands on the objective of enhanced connectivity,” he adds. Apart from the introduction of new routes and point-to-point destinations which remain crucial for the company,

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“AIR MALTA IS AN APPROVED TRAINING ORGANISATION (ATO) AND WE ARE PLANNING TO LAUNCH AN ACADEMY TO TRAIN PILOTS AND OTHER PERSONNEL FROM OTHER AIRLINES.” >

we also seek to improve our code share and interlining agreements with larger international airlines like Etihad, Emirates. KLM/Air France, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa and Qatar – just to mention a few. These arrangements help us increase our reachability footprint by also facilitating travel from outside the European Union into Malta, thus complementing our economic growth.

In March, the company announced that after 18 years it has made an operational profit. “For the financial year 2018, we registered a profit of €1.2 million and increased revenue by €5.3 million, mainly driven by an 11 per cent increase in passengers,” he asserts.

This reality further underlines the necessity for Air Malta to grow further and stronger for the benefit of Malta and its people.

Dr Mangion says that these profits will be reinvested back into the company to continue its growth process. “We want to introduce Wi-Fi on all our new aircraft and while the initial investment cost estimates are quite shocking, we know it has to be done. No airline will survive if it doesn’t invest in IT, which is why we have already spent €3 million and plan to spend another €2 million in the coming years. We have also improved our own internal IT system so that we are all connected and more efficient when it comes to the sales process, and we are working to continue enhancing the website.”

Tourism – and how to enhance Malta’s appeal – also plays regularly on Dr Mangion’s mind. “We are an island after all,” he says. “While tourism arrival figures are on the increase, we need to continuously enhance our product and follow the legacy of Valletta 2018, which was last year crowned the European City of Culture. We need a lot more investment in this area and to maintain the beautiful, historical heritage that we have.” As well as connectivity, ‘diversification’ is another term that ranks high in Dr Mangion’s vocabulary, when speaking about his plans for Air Malta. “In the future, I would like to develop the carriage of goods, including medical supplies. When people speak about air travel, they only think of passengers, but there is a lot of trade which travels by air. We believe that carriage of cargo can evolve into a cargo logistic centre here, with specific cargo aircraft that has a range up to the Sub-Sahara. We see a lot of goods coming from China which can be deposited in Malta and then transported on. If it can be done successfully by sea, we also believe Malta has a strategic location by air that we can exploit. This could be a new business segment for the company to further strengthen its potential. As long as you compete efficiently you will succeed.” Dr Mangion believes that staff hold the key to another way that Air Malta can stand out within the industry and help in increasing profits, as in the case of training of pilots. “Our pilots are very experienced, so they can easily train anyone,” he says proudly. “Air Malta is an Approved Training Organisation (ATO) and we are planning to launch an academy to train pilots and other personnel from other airlines. There is a big demand for these services.”

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Despite all the successful changes being implemented at Air Malta, Dr Mangion says he is insatiable for more, and recognises that as well as being an airline which runs with modern technology, it must also have a modern outlook. “We need to be sustainable over a longer period if we are to survive. The next 45 years are just as important as the last 45 years. We are aiming to have a total fleet change over the next five years that will be more efficient, more economical and more environmentally-friendly. This will save Air Malta on fuel as well as its environmental impact. There is much more to be done and we’re not exactly where we want to be, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Photo by Alison Galea Valletta

SUMMER 2019 AVIATION


SUMMER 2019 HUMAN CAPITAL

Photos by Alan Carville

Betting on the best W H Y B E T S S O N P L A C E S S TA F F AT T H E C O R E O F I T S C U LT U R E

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With last year’s restructure firmly behind them, Betsson Group sees a new interest in the company, and a new energy within. Management at Malta’s largest iGaming company, with more than 900 employees, is thrilled at the progress and believes the company stands strong for the future. Vanessa Conneely meets Chief HR Officer Lena Nordin.

The true One Betsson spirit, pulling together towards a common goal, has been evident throughout the last 12 months,” explains Chief HR Officer Lena Nordin. We meet at the Betsson Group office in Ta’ Xbiex – also known as the Experience Centre. And I have to say, it offers a very nice experience! A large, glass bowl of sweets sits on the perfectly white counter at reception, while the smell of coffee from the cool and modern café in the sun-drenched lobby, makes it feel like you’ve stepped into a plush boutique hotel, rather than a generic office block. And it’s that idea of how people feel when they work for Betsson, that Lena and her HR team are focusing on. “Our goal is to offer the best employee experience in the industry and together with the operational management, the people managers and the employees, that’s what we aim for,” she says. “We’ve been part of a very interesting journey,” Lena tells me. “We had a change in management when our CEO Jesper Svensson came on board at the end of 2017 and we then did a restructure at the beginning of last year. This was due to us buying several other companies and finding ourselves with many duplicate roles.” “Our main priority since then has been to change the culture of our company and it’s incredible to see how quickly things have turned around. I have been part of these journeys before and they tend to take time, but in this case, we’ve seen very quick results. I am convinced that the explanation lies in the teamwork done across the company.”

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Those results she is talking about came in the form of a recent internal employee survey. It found that 87 per cent of ‘Betssonites’ as they are dubbed, were proud to work at the company. “I think that is a very good number,” continues Lena. “We also asked people if they would recommend working with Betsson to family and friends, and that question scored 86 per cent.” “We like to say that we are powered by people,” adds Lena. “We are proud of our employees, so we are very happy to see that they are proud of Betsson as well.” The survey also found that 93 per cent of staff would describe their manager as a fair leader, which Lena says is fundamental for trust and to build highperforming teams. “Our leaders are key to the development we have seen in the company,” Lena explains. “Company culture is created and sustained by each and every one of us who works here, and the people managers play a big role in supporting and enhancing the culture we want.” “Due to our strong brand, we’ve never had a problem with attracting people, and we have staff from all over the world. Last year alone we received 24,000 applications from those looking to work with us. That was an increase of 60 per cent compared to 2017. But it’s not just about attracting new employees, it’s also about keeping the ones we have.” That’s why Betsson is so happy to see a big improvement in staff retention. “We know there is naturally quite a high ‘churn rate’ in the iGaming industry due to all millennials, so lowering the churn with 10 per cent like we have done over the past year is really quite an achievement.” >


SUMMER 2019 HUMAN CAPITAL

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Being a large company, Betsson can offer employees many interesting internal career paths, locally and globally.

millennials eat, think and do. But what we find is that because we have so many different cultures, these stereotypes don’t necessarily fit. For example, if you are a millennial from Greece, you grew up in a country that has high youth unemployment, which is a very different employee experience to someone who has grown up in a market where they can pick and choose whatever job they like. So, you can’t call the entire generation ‘entitled’ or ‘coddled’. In my experience they are actually a very mature generation who have travelled a lot or maybe studied abroad. They spend more time with their parents and want to be heard and contribute to their workplace.”

“Working with Betsson, you do not have to leave for another company in order to grow and develop your career,” Lena says. “We support our employees on their internal career journey and feel it benefits both the employee and the company.” As well as attracting first-timers to Betsson Group, Lena says the company has also managed to entice people back to the company. “This year, we’ve already had more than 17 ‘boomerangs’ as we call them,” she adds. “We’ve never had a healthier level of retention and we believe that’s partly down to the changes in company culture.”

Betsson tries to facilitate this by allowing its 1,700 staff across ten offices worldwide have their say at every level. “We set up something called a BEE Suggestion Box – BEE as in Betsson Employee Experience – where people from all over the company can make suggestions about the working experience and then their peers can vote on them. Afterwards, people can log on and see what ideas have been implemented. In our BEE Forums held in all locations, we meet employees from different departments every month to get feedback and just listen. We have such a diverse workforce and we like to use their knowledge to help us do better.”

And it’s that emphasis on ‘culture’ which has attracted Betsson Group’s biggest demographic ‘generation X’ and ‘millennials’. Around 75 per cent of the 900 staff are aged between 22 and 36, with the average age being 31. “I speak at a couple of events every year on how to manage these younger generations. I think there are a lot of generalisations and stereotyping about what gen X-ers and

“OUR MAIN PRIORITY HAS BEEN TO CHANGE THE CULTURE OF OUR COMPANY AND IT’S INCREDIBLE TO SEE HOW QUICKLY THINGS HAVE TURNED AROUND.” As well as being heard, Lena believes the younger workforce today care about what their employer does to give back to society. “Millennials like to engage in Corporate Social Responsibility, so we also have a new strategy around that. We have introduced CSR committees around the world and boosted our volunteer programmes. We already do things like organise clean ups on Malta’s beaches or gather food and toys for those in need at Christmas, but now we have more of a continuous structure. We wanted it to be less about ideas coming from the top and more about things our employees are engaged in.” There are many reasons employees feel Betsson Group is a great company to work for. “Competition is tough in the industry,” Lena states. “We try and be creative, but when it comes to the extra benefits at work, everyone in the sector is trying to outdo each other. We do have a concierge service at reception where you can drop off your dry cleaning, collect parcels and >

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“WE WANT TO HAVE THE BEST LEADERS IN THE INDUSTRY. IF YOU HAVE A GOOD LEADER YOU WILL THINK TWICE ABOUT LEAVING THE COMPANY.”

book in your car to get washed. We also have a nail and hair service, which our busy parents especially enjoy as they can make an appointment at lunch time and then spend more time with their children in the evening or weekends. We have an in-house doctor who visits every day, yoga twice a week, massages and a health allowance so people can go to the gym closest to their house. We understand the importance of work life balance, and try to facilitate it for our employees.” But we believe that by putting a big emphasis on culture and leadership we will stand out. We want to have the best leaders in the industry. If you have a good leader you will think twice about leaving the company.” The company worked with the School of Economics in Stockholm to develop a global leadership programme, called 4XL. Lena explains: “during four days we focus on four different areas: lead yourself, lead individuals, lead teams and lead Betsson. More than 250 Betsson people managers from around the world go through this programme. It has allowed us to make sure everyone is on the same page, as well as follow the same leadership principles and use the same tools. This means we get a bigger impact across the company.” But Betsson seems to have an unofficial fifth ‘L’ in the form of laughter. The company believes in having a strong social element to its workplace to keep employees happy. “We try and engage people as much as possible and host a lot of fun activities

so that people can get to know each other. One example is our social clubs, managed by employees, which offer a good way to meet around different hobbies such as running, art and crafts, books, Esports or movies. We have weekly Friday night beers on the eighth floor overlooking the marina, where people can come and mingle with top management, socialise and play games. Every month we include a theme such as karaoke, Halloween or a ‘bring your partner’ night. We have a summer and a winter party where we invite the entire office. It’s very popular and almost everyone shows up. We also have a range of staff discounts at restaurants and of course deals with Air Malta so people can travel or get home to see their families.” There are more than 50 different nationalities working at Betsson Group, so how do they find living in Malta? “I think people are mostly happy. It’s quite an interesting place to live with its rich history and culture. I myself have lived in France, Italy and Spain, but I think Malta focuses more on diversity, inclusion and innovation. Geographically it’s also a great base for travel. And of course, people love the weather, the sea and the general quality of life.” “At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. To be in a place where you feel comfortable and happy. That’s what we aim for at Betsson. To be the place people chose to work, every day.”

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Photos by LeoVegas

“OUR GOAL IS TO KEEP ON GROWING AND EVEN TO ACCELERATE SUCH GROWTH. WE SHOULD SEE OUR OPERATIONS IN MALTA EXPANDING FURTHER.” 088


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racing ahead From its humble beginnings eight years ago, mobile gaming company LeoVegas has forged a niche within the iGaming sector, providing players with an entertainment experience accessed through their phones. Today, with more than 400 employees in Malta alone, the company is poised for new ventures. Rebecca Anastasi speaks to Chief Operating Officer, Richard Woodbridge, to find out more.

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ight years ago, in Sweden, two friends were taking some time out of the humdrum normality of everyday life by playing with their mobile phones when they saw something: their devices were spinning swiftly, mimicking the movement of a whirling roulette table. While most of us would have simply gotten on with our mindless routines, Gustaf Hagman and Robin Ramm-Ericson decided this could be adopted to create a new gaming experience. LeoVegas was born.

hard work and they have been incredibly proud moments for all our employees.” The company’s passion – “leading the way into the mobile future” – taps into an attitude which is key to the firm’s philosophy, according to the COO. “At LeoVegas, we are at the forefront of the iGaming industry when it comes to mobile and innovation within that sector. We make it a point to cater to the needs of ever-changing player demographics and playing behaviours. We are proud of our mobile-first approach, and we have applied this to product design, site navigation and technology performance, cementing our reputation within the industry,” he explains.

Today, the iGaming company has offices in Sweden, Italy, the UK, Poland and Malta, employing over 900 people, across all its sites. It also reported a 25 per cent increase in revenue to €84.5 million for the final quarter of 2018, and boasts 587,712 active customers, according to Gaming Intelligence, an industry news and analysis portal. “We are one of the fastest-growing mobile gaming companies, and the company today is a market leader in mobile casino in its main markets,” Chief Operating Officer, Richard Woodbridge, affirms.

In this regard, he describes LeoVegas’ user interface as “simple, clean and intuitive,” highlighting its “consistent, yet adaptive design across web and mobile.” Moreover, he stresses, the firm has worked towards integrating its multiproduct experiences – Casino, Live Casino and Sportsbook – to provide zero loading times when players switch between these three product verticals, also introducing their multi-brand platform onto the market. “We are consistently making sure the product stays relevant and provides the greatest gaming experience,” he states. And, this attitude has opened the doors to further game play – most recently, GoGoCasino – which has received an “amazing” response from fans, he asserts.

Indeed, the company, which was listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange in 2016, has moved from strength to strength over the past few years. Following the implementation of their original idea in 2011, Mr Hagman and Mr Ramm-Ericson went on to launch the first version of the game on 12th January 2012. Key acquisitions – Winga, Royal Panda, Rocket X, IPS, Casino Grounds and Pixel.bet – quickly followed, bringing “added value and strength to LeoVegas Mobile Gaming Group,” Mr Woodbridge underlines, adding that “these achievements have truly rewarded us for our

Furthermore, this push for growth has also seen LeoVegas’ base in Malta prosper, according to Mr Woodbridge, with the company now boasting 400 employees locally. “In October 2012, LeoVegas

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SUMMER 2019 PROFILE

“AT LEOVEGAS, WE ARE AT THE FOREFRONT OF THE IGAMING INDUSTRY WHEN IT COMES TO MOBILE AND INNOVATION WITHIN THAT SECTOR. WE MAKE IT A POINT TO CATER TO THE NEEDS OF EVERCHANGING PLAYER DEMOGRAPHICS AND PLAYING BEHAVIOURS.” >

opened its first office in Malta – which was a fraction of what it is today – and this has been a great environment for us to flourish,” he says, citing Malta’s “advanced regulatory framework” as the main reason for the firm’s decision to open up offices on the island, and praising the local tax system for attracting the industry to the island. “Over the years, multiple operators started opening up shop here and that, eventually, started attracting a wider base of companies, including gaming providers, payment gateways and so on. Nowadays almost all the major iGaming operators have a representation on the island and some of them have even made Malta their HQ base.” The offices of LeoVegas are also testament to this investment in time and resources made on the island, the COO continues. “We’re lucky to be situated in the centre of Sliema, with an office space which enjoys terraces possessing wide, almost-360 degree views. And, the combination of Mediterranean weather and a fast pace working environment has created a great environment for us to attract and retain talent,” he continues. Such a combination, he believes, “makes LeoVegas the place to work for talented individuals looking for personal and professional growth.” Despite this optimistic outlook, however, the COO acknowledges that challenges remain, particularly with regards to recruitment. “Being part of such a competitive industry creates a number

of problems when it comes to providing your employees with the best working spaces or relocation conditions for those coming from abroad. And, we are continuously working to mitigate any issues, so our employees can consider the Sliema office their second home,” he explains. Refurbishment is, in fact, currently ongoing, “with the aim of creating a fun, functional and relaxing environment,” while logistical issues, mostly of concern to foreign employees, are being tackled. “International employees who have kids, for instance, are concerned with the scarcity of spots available in international schools. This has forced them to put their children on never-ending waiting lists,” Mr Woodbridge outlines. “And, these conditions have made it challenging to attract the best out there, although with the help of the responsible authorities this can surely be tackled in the right manner,” he affirms. The firm strives to provide opportunities for personal and professional growth to those willing to progress their careers in the sector, the COO continues. “We’re constantly on the look-out for candidates with the right set of skills and the right type of attitude – people who are

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campaigns, as well as Malta Pride which the firm has been sponsoring for two years, and which they “plan to keep supporting for years to come.”

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able to fit into the company culture. It’s not an easy task, but once we find the right fit, we are sure they are able to integrate easily, be a great team player and succeed within the company,” Mr Woodbridge states. In addition, once recruited, “LeoVegas allows its employees to develop throughout their journey at the firm and we encourage them to take on further responsibilities over time. I am happy to say that quite a large proportion of our job vacancies are actually filled by internal talent,” he underlines.

The company also espouses responsible gaming, having launched LeoSafePlay in 2017, “a site based on machine learning and algorithms, helping us create a risk profile for customers who might develop unhealthy gaming behaviour,” he describes. This contains a self-assessment tool allowing customers to become more aware of their gaming habits and identify any problematic areas before they escalate. Moreover, as part of LeoSafePlay, the firm is “piloting a new project where we pay for initial therapy and counselling sessions for those customers who might require professional help,” he explains. And, free licences to GamBan, a web filter blocking users from accessing any online gambling sites, are also distributed for free, to customers in need. “At the moment, we are analysing all the progress of LeoSafePlay and looking into how we can improve it to take it to the next level,” he asserts. But, what does the future hold for the firm? “Our goal is to keep on growing and even to accelerate such growth. We should see our operations in Malta expanding further, and we are driving several initiatives to further increase our attractiveness as an employer in Malta,” Mr Woodbridge states. Indeed, he expresses a firm belief that the next few years will be “extremely exciting for us,” due to their intention to expand “into regulated and soon-to-be regulated markets, through organic and strategic acquisitions.” The company is also working “on a multi-brand strategy, by bringing GoGo casino and other brands into the market to complement and diversify the Group’s brand portfolio.”

For those who make the cut, benefits include “gym subsidies, classes at a leading fitness club, a fully-paid private health insurance, sports allowance and breakfast on Mondays, lunch on Fridays, as well as a fully-stocked snack bar with healthy snacks all year around,” the COO smiles. “We also organise fun and adventurous events throughout the year, and we have also been very socially active by supporting causes which go beyond gaming,” he explains. These include the Wildlife Conservation Network, the Lion Recovery Fund, the Malta Community Chest Fund, national clean-up

For innovation is central to the firm’s operations, the COO specifies, concluding by reiterating the driving force behind such momentum: a passion and belief in the future of mobile iGaming.

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When weird meets wonderful I N A F A N TA S T I C O F F I C E D E S I G N

Casumo’s impressive office is the kind that appeals to every adult’s inner child – it is vibrant, quirky and full of unexpected treasures. Martina Said meets Forward Architects Partner Christopher Micallef and Casumo’s Interior Architect Veronica Zammit to find out what went into it. 094


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tanding in front of the main wooden door to the entrance of Casumo’s office in Swieqi, with its intricate carvings that I later learn tell the story of the rise and rise of this design-oriented brand, already offers a taster of this gaming company’s distinctive way of doing things.

“THE NATURAL LIGHT, MATERIALS AND CHOICE OF SOFAS EVOKE A SENSE OF HOMELY FREEDOM WITHIN A MODERN OFFICE SPACE.”

My journey starts at the office reception on level two, which is clearly designed to leave visitors with a very good first impression. The wall behind the reception desk is covered with the kind of leafy foliage you’d encounter in a jungle – which incidentally is the look they were going for – and contrasts spectacularly with the light blue ‘jelly bean’ reception desk, which creates an unmissable focal point in the space. Veronica tells me that design and creativity are central to Casumo, and that’s evident all around the office. “Casumo is a gaming company first and foremost, so it’s got many elements one would expect of a gaming company. It was important for Casumo to create a space that is not just fun to work in, but really enables people to do their best and work quite freely.”

Christopher Micallef, Partner, Forward Architects

The company has grown over the years. Casumo first approached Forward Architects to help them design their first premises in Ta’ Xbiex. The design of that office helped them build on the understanding of Casumo’s ethos, in particular to their approach on design. The company grew and, within two years, Casumo again approached Forward Architects to design their new premises in Tal-Ibragg, “It started off with one floor and, over the years, Casumo took over five levels,” Christopher explains, highlighting the architecture firm’s ongoing relationship with the gaming company. “We worked hand-in-hand with the Casumo design team to shape the office, >

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knowing that it had to allow for future flexibility. While Casumo’s growth was clear, the operational side of the company was intentionally not penned in within our brief from the start. They were determined to remain a young and agile company, empowering teams to develop their projects and ideas. The organisation of the team structure and its potential evolution was where it all started in the design process.” We started off our meeting with a walk-around, beginning from the reception. “The jelly bean reception is a collection of many great ideas gathered from the staff’s imaginations and Casumo’s own story, and it is presented in a way that gives people a great first impression once they enter the castle doors – that it’s weird and wonderful at Casumo,” smiles Veronica. On the same floor as the main entrance is the marketing and communications team, employee experience team and, further on, the ambassador’s

team. The floor above it houses the product teams, as well as the finance team and the company directors. Another floor up is home to one of the most striking areas of the office: The Odditorium, which is the office’s eatery and social hub, and as the beating heart of Casumo, occupies two floors singlehandedly. The bottom-most floor, which is the quietest in comparison to the rest, is occupied by legal, compliance and business development teams. “Casumo began with a small amount of people which then evolved into teams as numbers grew,” Veronica continues. “The team began working on projects, eventually resulting in too many teams. We now work in clusters and sit together in mission pods back-to-back, with easy access to whiteboards. This gives us the flexibility to meet and discuss without needing to formalise everything. Flexibility is crucial and employees are really trusted to make their own schedules here. Autonomy is a huge part of our culture.” >

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“THE ODDITORIUM, WITH ITS BUZZING ATMOSPHERE AND PLAYFUL DESIGN, IS PERHAPS ONE OF THE BEST REFLECTIONS OF THE CASUMO BRAND.” Veronica Zammit, Interior Architect, Casumo >

In line with this, Christopher adds that the office needed to reflect this sense of collaboration in every way possible, and also have spaces that mirror the organisation’s flexibility, which could transform as Casumo changes. “We used warm, natural and organic materials to make the space more human and homely. Colour is an integral ingredient in Casumo’s identity. The office colours were introduced through an interior and branding exercise led by the Casumo Design Team and StudioNoc.” “The office is colourful, but it’s filled with furniture and furnishings that evoke a homely feeling, such as the sofa and chairs in the reception. However, The Odditorium, with its buzzing atmosphere and playful design, is perhaps one of the best reflections of the Casumo brand, which is both colourful and playful,” Veronica says. Numerous aspects of the office’s design were a must from the get-go – starting with the mission pods, which required the team to dig deep to answer crucial questions that would have a strong bearing on the design of the office. “How do we currently work? How would we like to work? Is a large open plan the best layout for us? How would we best be able to collaborate without too much distraction, noise and chaos? These are some of the questions the team needed to answer to achieve the best results,” says Veronica. >

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“A lot of attention was also given to detail, including the acoustic performance of the office – carpets, soffit absorption panels and cork dividers all helped in permitting an open plan layout that is equally buzzing and productive.” To achieve this, Forward Architects entrusted Dex Workspaces, part of Vivendo Group, to supply the carpet flooring and acoustic ceiling island, as well as a wide range of office furniture and furnishings, namely meeting tables, Vitra lounge chairs and the double glass partitions. The use of plants throughout the office was another must in the design of Casumo, the sheer scale of which made it a separate project in its own right. “We worked with a supplier specialised in this area and it turned out to be a really interesting project,” says Veronica. “We used around six types of plants as we didn’t want uniformity, we actually wanted it to feel like a jungle, and chose plants that don’t need constant watering. On level two alone, 600 plants were used, and the plan is to install more in other parts of the office.”

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The plants are installed in the partitions between the custom-built desks. All the partitions are lined with fibreglass to prevent soil and water from seeping down into the electrical wiring below, while the plants create aestheticallypleasing dividers that help to bring the outside in. “How people work together is always the most important starting point, but that is complemented by how we want the staff to feel at work. The plants provide a feeling of being outdoors and also bring a sense of calm to the office, while the bright colours are stimulating and help to achieve that childish, playful feeling,” Veronica says. >


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“At the same time there is a natural calm inside the office and work spaces,” Forward Architect’s Christopher explains. “The organisation of the various break out spaces: sofas, booths, meeting areas coupled with the materials and natural daylight resonating through the office layout, all help to contribute to the overall magic at Casumo.” Asked to pick a part of the office which she considers to be the most outstanding, Veronica says The Odditorium takes the cake. “Without question, the space is aesthetically stunning. But there’s more to it than that – we use it on a daily basis to eat, hang out and chat, to hold events and conferences, to learn. We recently held a mini sports tournament there, and it’s also where we host our annual conference, monthly company breakfasts, and various tech talks. It’s most definitely the heart of the office – everyone goes there at some point in the day, and it’s a friendly environment that encourages people to mix and interact.”

The office’s design is a collaborative result between many great creatives. Casumo’s co-Founder, Kim Larsen, has a strong vision and the design process was adapted to a more inclusive one, thus allowing a spectrum of designers from different backgrounds to participate in the design development.

Finally, Christopher highlights his own favourite – the long lounge breakout and workspace alongside the mission pods on level three. “The natural light, materials and choice of sofas evoke a sense of homely freedom within a modern office space,” he concludes.

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SUMMER 2019 GLOBAL

Weathering the storm

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B R E X I T

U N C E R TA I N T Y

As the UK prepares to leave the EU, Vanessa Conneely speaks to three businesses involved in iGaming about how they are dealing with the looming deadline.

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he debacle that is Brexit is sure to go down in history as one of the most trying times for the European Union. And with the deadline now moved to 31st October, the uncertainty of life after Brexit continues – including for businesses connected to the iGaming industry. “A certain outcome, even if it’s a bad outcome, is always better than no outcome at all,” says Dr Anton John Mifsud, who heads the Legal Department at Ellul & Schranz law firm in St Julian’s. “While the effect on our company has been neutral, the turmoil has been bad for the iGaming industry. I also think the UK will go into economic turmoil which might have spillover effects on the rest of the EU.”

“While I don’t believe Malta will be hit hard economically, it has lost an important ally when it comes to the issue of tax harmonisation across the EU. The UK is one of the strongest defenders of tax sovereignty and is completely against tax harmonisation. Although technically each country has a veto, it’s questionable how long Malta can resist the pressure from Germany and France.” Dr Mifsud says that despite the ever-changing landscape, he and his team believe their clients are weathering the storm of uncertainty quite well. “I think most companies already made up their minds what their Plan A and Plan B would be by, say, mid-2018 or even earlier in the case of larger companies. So, I think they are prepared for whatever the outcome.”

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SUMMER 2019 GLOBAL

“A CERTAIN OUTCOME, EVEN IF IT’S A BAD OUTCOME, IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN NO OUTCOME AT ALL.” Dr Anton John Mifsud, Head of Legal, Ellul & Schranz

But not everyone agrees. Naxxar-based accounting and tax consultants Griffiths + Associates say they have witnessed an increase in the number of people who are jittery at the thought of Brexit. “We have experienced an influx of queries from the UK, both from individuals who want to move to Malta for residential purposes and also from businesses that operate internationally and want to hedge the impact of Brexit on their organisation,” says Tax Director Peter Griffiths. “For example, we have had retirees from the UK taking up tax residence in Malta and also apply for a special tax scheme called the Malta Retirement Programme. Also, certain clients have re-flagged their vessels from the British to the Maltese flag in order to have an EU-jurisdiction as the home port of their vessel. Other clients from the insurance industry have approached us to acquire a licence in Malta that could be passported to other EU member states.”

Just like Ellul & Schranz, Griffiths + Associates have been holding regular meetings with staff to stay on top of what’s happening. “We are following all developments on a daily basis due to the uncertainty currently existing over the when and how of Brexit. Internally the firm is already prepared and we’re also adapting our advice to be given to UK businesses that desire to move to Malta.” And what have those meetings been about? “We believe that in the immediate future Brexit will negatively affect the British economy and its overall competitiveness internationally,” continues Mr Griffiths. “Certainly, it might be a boon for some EU-based jurisdictions – such as Malta – that can welcome both businesses and individuals who decide to leave the UK. But in the iGaming industry, Brexit >

“IN THE IGAMING INDUSTRY, BREXIT IS ALREADY HAVING AN IMPACT ON COMPANIES WHICH HAVE BEEN OPERATING IN PLACES LIKE GIBRALTAR AND HAVE DECIDED TO MOVE THEIR OPERATIONS TO OTHER EU COUNTRIES.” Peter Griffiths, Tax Director, Griffiths + Associates 0105


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“IT IS POSSIBLE THAT UK FACING OPERATORS MAY SUFFER A BIT OF A SLOWDOWN IF THE BRITISH ECONOMY SUFFERS IN A NODEAL BREXIT SCENARIO, BUT THAT IS UNLIKELY TO BE A LONG-TERM SCENARIO.” Nigel Birrell, CEO, Lottoland >

is already having an impact on companies which have been operating in places like Gibraltar and have decided to move their operations to other EU countries.” One such company is Lottoland, which allows customers to bet on some of the world’s biggest lotteries including EuroMillions and EuroJackpot. It’s one of more than 30 licensed B2B and B2C gambling companies which take advantage of a combination of 1 per cent corporate tax as well as Gibraltar’s membership to the EU. Around 4,000 people are employed in the gambling sector, which accounts for an estimated 20-25 per cent of GDP. Being part of the EU allows those who want to, to move freely between their office in Gibraltar and their home in Spain. Speaking from his base in Gibraltar, CEO Nigel Birrell says, “we were not very happy about the outcome of the Brexit referendum. Gibraltar and Lottoland are highly dependent on a large trans-border workforce. We have constant open dialogue with our staff, and they are fully aware of the preparations we have been putting in place. Many of our Gibraltarbased staff live in Spain, but Lottoland offers all of its workers flexible working solutions, all staff are equipped with the ability to work from home and from alternative offices. In the digital world we live in, remote working is becoming the norm. So even in the unlikely event of a restricted border, the short-term effects on our business would be minimal.”

“More than 96 per cent of Gibraltarians voted to remain. However, having analysed the situation further, we believe that compared to other industries, Brexit will have less impact on Lottoland. Lottoland is not only licensed in Gibraltar but in various EU member states – which will not be impacted by Brexit. In addition, we already operate a significant portion of our business very successfully outside of the European Union.” “We have been preparing for Brexit, from a regulatory and licensing perspective, since the referendum result, and were fully ready for departure, had it come, on the 29th March. We don’t imagine that the industry as a whole, which is global in nature, will be much affected. It is possible that UK facing operators may suffer a bit of a slow-down if the British economy suffers in a no-deal Brexit scenario, but that is unlikely to be a long-term scenario.” Mr Birrell says that while the past couple of years haven’t really affected Lottoland, they have done nothing for Britain’s reputation. “If anything, a further delay in a final way forward is just frustrating and reflects badly on UK politics!”

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SUMMER 2019 PRESS

Jackpotjoy Group’s sustained success U N D E R P I N N E D B Y A C O M M I T M E N T T O I T S C U S T O M E R S Samantha Portelli, Jackpotjoy Group’s Affiliates Operations Manager, shares her insight on customer centricity with iGaming Capital.

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ackpotjoy Group is a global online gaming operator with multiple bingo and casino brands which include Jackpotjoy, Vera&John, Botemania, Starspins and Intercasino. Like all major online gambling companies, its success has depended upon a combination of design, support, promotion and, above all, a focus on its customers.

brand. As well as presenting its customers with an attractive product, online gaming companies need to take account of their corporate image – in order to appeal to investors, the media and to attract the most talented employees.

Following many successful years operating at the heart of the iGaming affiliate industry as PlainPartners, it was time for the brand to get a much-needed make-over of its own. PlainPartners bloomed into JPJ Group Affiliates with a new focus and direction. JPJ Group Affiliates offers a brand-new look and feel for what the company believes are the same great services and unbeatable opportunities.

The Group is highly customer-focused. It has an active and passionate affiliation department which prioritises contact with the customer first – both to support them and continually to find out what they want. Online gaming is, almost by definition, a global business and the Group has put a lot of effort into geographical diversification and adding new capabilities to its already strong team. Within the team, there is an incisive understanding of how different markets behave and what the company needs to do to maximise its offering. Affiliates likewise play an important part in the acquisition of new customers and represent a significant part of the overall business. A successful company needs to continually evolve as tastes change and customers’ interests alter, and this was the primary reason for the Group’s decision to rebrand its affiliate

The company wanted a name which reflected its presence within JPJ Group plc and all the brands the Group has under the same roof. A number of variations to both the name and the design were discussed before the name JPJ Group Affiliates was chosen. In terms of design, the brand’s pink colour scheme was retained, but black was added to the new look to give it a more professional feel, whilst still acknowledging its roots. When the rebranded company was launched at the London Affiliate Conference (LAC), its stand was completely different to those of other affiliate

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Authority regulations, which came into effect at the start of 2019. Its Vera&John and InterCasino brands are available to players in various markets via VeraJohn.com and InterCasino. com. Both casinos are also fully licensed to operate in the UK via VeraJohn.co.uk and InterCasino.co.uk, as well as in Sweden via VeraJohn.se and InterCasino.se. The company recently announced the addition of Jackpotjoy. se to its portfolio. This powerhouse brand was already a significant bingo market leader in the UK, and the company exclusively manages its Swedish counterpart. Having recently been awarded a licence to operate in Sweden, this dynamic site offers bingo, slots and casino games exclusively to the competitive Swedish market. The Group offers top-of-the-line casino products via a backend product that anyone can use. Affiliates do not need to expend their time chasing after incomplete data and low-quality creatives when they could be converting players instead. On top of that, the company offers them one of the most competitive commission rates on the market today, so its success is their success. The Group is constantly seeking to acquire new affiliates and to keep growing current relationships, with an eye towards becoming stronger in the regulated markets, gaining geographic diversification and remaining strong in its leading markets. The Group is also present at several affiliate conferences and exhibits each year at the LAC. For the first time this year, JPJ Group Affiliates will also be exhibiting at the Amsterdam Affiliate Conference which takes place at the RAI exhibition centre in Amsterdam between 16th and 19th July.

Photo by Marc Casolani

Jackpotjoy Group’s efforts to expand its affiliate base and improve the way in which it operates is always underpinned by its overwhelming desire to put the customer first. It is an ethos that is emphasised at all levels of the company and one that is understood. The company seeks to provide a safe and responsible environment across all touchpoints. Maintaining its integrity as a brand and providing a responsible gaming environment is at the heart of everything it does.

programmes, with its life-sized cherry blossom tree incorporated within the stand to represent its change and growth, as well as the new opportunities in bloom. Attracting potential customers to the site is only part of the challenge. It is vital for the company that they are not tempted to move on – either within the first few seconds or after they have tried an initial offering. The retention of players sent by affiliates has been critical to the company’s success. JPJ Group Affiliates offers opportunities on a number of exciting brands, including three casinos fully licensed to operate under the new Swedish Gaming

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Jackpotjoy Group wants healthy and sustainable customers and compliant practices within its organisation. It tries to make things as simple as possible for players by focusing on the customer journey and implementing technology and automation to improve their experiences. The team at JPJ Group Affiliates is ready to rise to the challenge thanks to its winning combination of time-tested skills and a brand-new vision. Samantha has been working at Jackpotjoy Group, a subsidiary of JPJ Group plc, for just over one year, having previously worked in marketing and brand management, before becoming an Affiliate Manager for JPJ Group Affiliates. She has since been promoted to Affiliate Operations Manager and is based in Malta.


SUMMER 2019 DESIGN

H A R N E S S I N G A L L T H E B E N E F I T S O F

a sound office design Martina Said sits down with the co-Founders of Forward Architects, Chris Micallef and Michael Pace, to find out about the importance of a well-thought out office design, the current trends in modern workspaces, and how a successful design comes down to one crucial thing: a good brief. 0110


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ver the last decade, a lot has changed in Malta’s business landscape. New sectors were born and bred, and ushered in new and improved ways of doing things, including where and how we work, and quite significantly, the ambience within which we carry out our daily tasks. It’s a shift that has affected many other industries and their work too, including that of architecture and interior design practice Forward Architects, co-founded by Chris Micallef and Michael Pace.

Photos by Alan Carville

The firm, which started out with a focus on residential architecture and interior design, has changed over the past eight years in line with industry demands. “Back in 2012, we began to notice a shift in offices and their design,” says Chris. “We had already worked on a number of office projects until that point, but we could see how companies evolved from their startup days, moving from one office to another. On the other hand, and especially with the introduction of gaming, company structures began to change from a hierarchy to a flatter organisation. In my opinion, this has been the biggest shift in interior design in relation to offices.” Michael adds that an evolution from a one-size-fitsall design to a tailored approach for offices became more evident, as offices increasingly started requiring something a little outside the box. “There was a shift from an office which is just a space you kit out with soffits and desks, to something where brand identity, the importance of staff well-being and other parameters which are now extremely important in office design, started to become evident locally.” There was also a noticeable move away from certain trends, such as hot-desking. “We’ve realised that people do need a sense of belonging at their workspace, they need their territory and at least they need their desk, which doesn’t mean that they don’t need a place that’s dynamic – in fact it makes an office more dynamic because it reflects a move towards mobility, where people could work a couple of hours at their desk, in the kitchen, and possibly even from home. The office has extended beyond the confines of the workplace itself.” This sense of belonging, together with strong connectivity, flexibility and agility are among the top requirements of modern workspaces. “At par with these is a sense of belonging from a workforce perspective. A company’s workforce

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needs to feel proud of the entity it forms part of,” says Michael. “In this generation of start-ups, agility is also key,” adds Chris, “because their growth pattern is not quite known or understood from the start. They could go from 20 employees to 100 in a short amount of time, and so the office needs to be able to adapt to foreseeable growth patterns.” However, the most important step towards the creation of a successful office, they agree, begins with the absolute basics: investing the time to draw up an accurate brief. “A set of design parameters established through dialogue between the designers, the client and key staff will dictate the whole design procedure. And if the brief is right, the chances of creating a successful result are reinforced exponentially. Once you know what direction you need to take, it will save a lot of time and eliminate trial and error,” says Michael. “The brief needs to cover everything, from budget to timelines to look and feel. The designer fires the questions and the client either provides the answers or realises there are gaps in the brief that need to be addressed.” >


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Engaging with the client to understand their structure of growth is essential, Chris continues, even if the client doesn’t necessarily have the answers. “One of our clients did just this – they started by understanding how they feel their teams will work. Will they be teams of eight or 10? Do they want to work facing each other or back-to-back? They opted for back-to-back because they could communicate by just turning their chairs. The set-up they eventually opted for was applied throughout the office, and not only in their local office as they grew, but also internationally.”

“WITH THE INTRODUCTION OF GAMING, COMPANY STRUCTURES BEGAN TO CHANGE FROM A HIERARCHY TO A FLATTER ORGANISATION. IN MY OPINION, THIS HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST SHIFT IN INTERIOR DESIGN IN RELATION TO OFFICES.” Chris Micallef

By asking the right questions to the client at the beginning of the project, Michael says, the designer can understand how much change the company needs to cater for. “That includes whether the office space you’re currently designing with them is going to be used for the next two years or five, and you cater for that accordingly, while allowing for those future spaces to be taken over later, which you kit out to not be dead zones in the meantime, because nobody wants an office with empty spaces. So, the more flexible it needs to be, the more thought needs to go into the whole set-up – technical, mechanical, electrical, desk layouts and even choice of furniture.” Combined with this is the necessary investment that needs to be made in order to fulfil the brief. “Before thinking about ‘going the extra mile’, you need to consider the basic investment that must be made to ensure that the performance of your office is the best that it could be,” says Chris. “Invest less than the minimum infrastructure required, and you’ll notice your office is not operating efficiently. Invest less in your technical support, and you’ll notice your connectivity is less than what you anticipated. Once this initial investment is made, you should go the extra mile and invest in branding and identity, because that is where it’s really felt in the office. And here, the sky’s the limit.” Michael is in agreement, and asserts that if you want a successful office, you have to invest in it. “There are, of course, tangible benefits of engaging in a proper design process: unique company branding which sets

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the company and staff apart, a sense of identity among staff which comes from the workspace and not just from the brand, and from an HR point of view, it helps to attract new staff and retain existing members. A happy workforce is not just good for productivity; it is your best brand ambassador.” An aspect of office design that’s intrinsically associated with gaming companies is the provision of spaces that are associated with leisure, and, increasingly, with home. However, Chris asserts that these spaces are still, in essence, workspaces, and shouldn’t be confused with areas that encourage procrastination. Quite the contrary, “when you have a sofa area within a space, it’s because team members need to be working in that way, and not over a meeting table or at their desks. It’s a more comfortable way of engaging with ideas, it’s their process of thinking. Many gaming companies do have their own ideas for entertainment areas, such as incorporating pingpong tables, play station areas, and social spaces where everyone comes together, but even from an early start-up stage, these areas double up for when meetings need to happen collectively.” >


SUMMER 2019 DESIGN

“A SET OF DESIGN PARAMETERS ESTABLISHED THROUGH DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE DESIGNERS, THE CLIENT AND KEY STAFF WILL DICTATE THE WHOLE DESIGN PROCEDURE. AND IF THE BRIEF IS RIGHT, THE CHANCES OF CREATING A SUCCESSFUL RESULT ARE REINFORCED EXPONENTIALLY.” Michael Pace

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Ultimately, the company’s aspirations are for its staff to deliver high-quality work efficiently, says Michael, so anything in the workspace that encourages that is key. “These relaxed spaces that give a ‘home away from home’ feel are there to create an environment that encourages productivity. If staff is more productive working for four hours at their desks and four hours in the café, then so be it. For a while, the trend in gaming companies was to have the office look and feel like a playground – it is now moving more towards a homely space.” Such leisure spaces come in various forms – break-out areas, areas for congregation, coffee corners, zoneout spaces and introspective spaces for focus and concentration. Depending on the size of the company, exercise areas, outdoor areas, office catering, gaming areas, and many more make it to the extensive list. The architects explain that, in line with gaming companies’ tendencies to use all the space available in the office, even the spaces between desks doesn’t go to waste. “For one client in particular, this kind of negative space was used to add greenery everywhere within the office, which was a way of bringing their culture and native environment closer to home.” Chris adds that understanding global and local trends in the work environment helps to come up with the best possible solution for your office. “One ingredient I also find to be super important in offices is daylight, and the trend has moved towards being more responsible towards the environment, so looking at ways to reduce energy consumption, waste, and the sustainable sourcing of materials. This has already started, and will hopefully become more ingrained in our culture going forward.”

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Asked to share what they believe are the most crucial ingredients for a successful design, Michael says engaging the designer or architect during the office hunt stage will help the client find the best property for their office project. “I also can’t emphasise enough the importance of the early stages. Once that is established, two-way, clientdesigner communication, especially during the appraisal and concept stages of the project, is key.”


SUMMER 2019 LIFE

TA C K L I N G T H E S O C I A L A S P E C T

O F

Malta’s growing gaming industry

The Responsible Gaming Foundation was launched on Tuesday 18th February 2014 by the then Parliamentary Secretary for Competitiveness and Economic Growth, Edward Zammit Lewis, and the then Minister for Social Solidarity Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca,” begins Promotions Executive Kayne Said, by way of introduction. “As has become increasingly clear in recent years, the gaming industry has been having a very positive impact on the Maltese islands from an economic point of view,” he points out, highlighting the fact that in 2017, the direct contribution of the gaming industry to the Maltese economy was valued at €1.1 billion and almost 10,000 jobs. With this growth, he says, came the need to tackle the industry from a social aspect. “The foundation was created with the main aim of seeking and managing funding from the gaming sectors, Government and other channels to fund projects for research and development of preventative measures in education, to provide alternatives to gambling and to provide support and technologies that enhance and improve responsible gaming,” he maintains, going on to list some of these support services, which include the foundation’s National Gambling Helpline (1777); a Chatline service available through its website www.rgf.org.mt; as well as the processing of Self Exclusion Requests, with the help of the Malta Gaming Authority.

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Photos by Alan Carville

Launched in 2014, the Responsible Gaming Foundation was set up with the mission ‘’to create a wider awareness of the extent, possible causes and consequences of problem gaming/gambling in Malta with a view to preventing it and to provide the necessary support and advice to problem gamblers and their dependants in their recovery efforts.” Sarah Micallef speaks to the foundation’s General Manager Shawn Zammit, Call Centre Manager and Social Worker Dorianne Attard, and Promotions Executive Kayne Said to find out the work that goes into making that mission a reality.

Expanding on the helpline, Call Centre Manager and Social Worker Dorianne Attard explains that as of 7th January this year, the helpline has been made available on a 24hour basis. “Our informed staff is on hand to provide support and guidance to those individuals, family members or significant others who are experiencing problems related to gambling,” she affirms, adding that it is often those who are close to the person with a gambling problem that get in touch first, though this isn’t always the case. “We’ve also seen an increase in the number of people who seek help for themselves. This is the first step towards recovery, so it’s very positive.”


SUMMER 2019 LIFE

Apart from this, the Call Centre also processes Self Exclusion Requests, through which gamblers can self-exclude themselves from casinos, gambling parlours and bingo halls licensed with the Malta Gaming Authority for a period of six months, a year, or for an indefinite period. “The process is completely confidential,” Mr Said explains, detailing two important steps which individuals seeking self-exclusion need to take prior to reaching out. “The first step is to acknowledge the problem, and the second is to realise that help is needed to overcome it. We recognise that in order to come to this conclusion, the individual choosing to self exclude will have already gone through a lot. Once they call, we ask that they come to our premises to give their details, which we then insert into a central database managed by the MGA,” he explains.

Although this, of course, doesn’t exclude them from online gambling sites. “As a foundation, together with the MGA, we also recognise that a person who has chosen to exclude themselves from land-based operators may still gamble online, so the next step is already being worked on, so as to provide a means for people to exclude themselves from online resources also,” Mr Said affirms. “Apart from this support,” Ms Attard continues, “we also refer them to different entities, like support groups provided by Caritas and Sedqa, for professional help and guidance, depending on the individual’s situation. There are also situations where other problems relating to mental health, for instance, surround a problematic gambling addiction, so in these cases we see that they receive the help they need.” >

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SUMMER 2019 LIFE

“IT’S IMPORTANT THAT WE CONTINUE TO WORK HAND-IN-HAND WITH OTHER ENTITIES SUCH AS CARITAS, FSWS AND RICHMOND FOUNDATION AMONG OTHERS, FOR THE BENEFIT OF THOSE WHO NEED OUR HELP.” Kayne Said, Promotions Executive >

In tandem, the foundation furthers its mission by organising and promoting events and initiatives that provide an alternative to gambling. “We believe that art, music, drama and sports can serve as an alternative to a gambling addiction,” Mr Said affirms, pointing out that the difference between gaming and gambling must also be recognised. “As a foundation, we focus a lot on gambling, though we wish to make it clear that we are not against gambling as a recreational activity, so long as it is kept under control, that is both in terms of financial control, as well as time spent. When it comes to gaming, there is no financial risk involved as such, but there is the risk of spending too much time pursuing this activity,” he says, revealing that they have also faced instances of problematic gaming. “Take our children, for example – we advise parents to control how much time their children spend playing games. If children do not adhere to this time control and gaming becomes a priority over school, social life and other activities, it could become problematic.”

Asked about the extent of this problem locally, Mr Said quotes a statistic published by the MGA last December, which reveals that in 2017, the Maltese population spent €128 million on gaming consumption. 53 per cent of that number spent the money on gambling, and of those, one to two per cent reported an addiction – that works out to between 1,900 and 3,800 people. “As a foundation, we don’t wish to alarm anyone >

“OUR INFORMED STAFF IS ON HAND TO PROVIDE SUPPORT AND GUIDANCE TO THOSE INDIVIDUALS, FAMILY MEMBERS OR SIGNIFICANT OTHERS WHO ARE EXPERIENCING PROBLEMS RELATED TO GAMBLING.” Dorianne Attard, Call Centre Manager and Social Worker 0119


SUMMER 2019 LIFE

project funded by the European Social Fund which aims to implement a holistic plan on improving care and social services in the field of gambling problems and addictions. “Research will be conducted among people who face gambling addiction as well as individuals who don’t. Based on the results of the analysis, we will be working on a campaign which will raise awareness about responsible gambling and protect people with gambling disorders in Malta and Gozo,” explains General Manager Shawn Zammit. “This will also be accompanied by a specialised training programme for key stakeholders working in the industry, ranging from senior executive managers from land-based remote gaming companies to psychologists, counsellors and educators, which will deal with how to tackle problem gaming and gambling.” Looking back on some of the highlights the foundation has experienced since its outset, Mr Said lists the Call Centre and the only national helpline targeted at gambling addiction as a major achievement, before asserting that “the most important highlight has been the awareness we have begun to raise about problematic gambling among local society, which has historically been more aware of other addictions such as drugs and alcohol.”

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with these numbers, but they do help give an indication, and reflect in the Self Exclusion Requests that we receive throughout the year,” he says. Circling back to what the Responsible Gaming Foundation is doing to combat this, Mr Said highlights an educational campaign run by Co-ordinator Shirley Abela, through which the foundation visits primary students across educational institutions around Malta and Gozo. “Through our mascot Chippy, we educate students about various aspects, including the importance of being responsible when it comes to how much time is spent playing games and alternatives to gaming, with the aim of raising awareness among children and their parents. We intend to also expand this to secondary school students moving forward,” he continues. But that’s not all. The Responsible Gaming Foundation is also currently working on a project titled Take Action: Against Problem Gambling in Malta, a €1 million

Another highlight he points out is being present and aiding in the organisation of various cultural and sporting events around Malta and Gozo to promote alternatives to addiction. “We are still very much at the beginning of our mission when it comes to raising awareness, but we are committed to continuing to advance our own knowledge and keeping ourselves abreast with the latest developments in the sector,” he says. As for the foundation’s future plans, Mr Said is clear. “It’s important that we continue to work hand-in-hand with other entities such as Caritas, FSWS and Richmond Foundation among others, for the benefit of those who need our help. It’s not easy, but it is a cause we take very seriously,” he concludes – a noble mission indeed, and one that the team at the Responsible Gaming Foundation are clearly intent on achieving.

“WE WILL BE WORKING ON A CAMPAIGN WHICH WILL RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT RESPONSIBLE GAMBLING AND PROTECT PEOPLE WITH GAMBLING DISORDERS IN MALTA AND GOZO.” Shawn Zammit, General Manager 0120


SUMMER 2019 PROPERTY

Feeling the brunt:

I S P R O P E R T Y I N M A LTA J U S T T O O E X P E N S I V E ?

Over the past few years, property prices have soared, with the steep rise frequently blamed on Malta’s buoyant economy and the strong presence of iGaming firms on the island. But, are rent rates and purchase costs becoming too high even for employees in the sector? Rebecca Anastasi speaks to key stakeholders to find out.

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alk or cycle along the promenade stretching from Gzira to Sliema – and further into St Julian’s – and you’ll be greeted by a wall of shiny apartments facing the seafront, many for sale or rent. At face value, Malta’s property boom shows no signs of abating, with new residential and commercial spaces regularly popping up on a market characterised by soaring purchase and rental costs. Indeed, today, a standard two-bedroomed flat in a central area, including in suburban towns, such as Swieqi or Kappara, might set you back over €1,300 a month, a staggering amount considering the national minimum wage in Malta stands at €762 monthly. And, while employees working in the iGaming industry earn considerably more than this, Pentasia’s recent 2018 iGaming Business Salary report stated that professionals in the industry would, at

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SUMMER 2019 PROPERTY

any rate, need a minimum of €23,000 a year – a little over €1,900, gross, per month – to make ends meet. So, are property prices becoming too exorbitant, even for those working in the remote gaming sector? “The short answer is, definitely, yes,” says Pierre Lindh, Managing Director of Ambassador Events, a firm which specialises in providing hospitality services to the iGaming sector. “And, this is especially true for junior staff, who make up the majority of the employees in remote gaming on the island.” Mr Lindh, a Swedish national, moved to Malta eight years ago when, he says, it was much easier to find decent accommodation in fairly central areas. “But this is not the case any longer as rent has, more or less, doubled, while salaries haven’t risen significantly for the more junior positions. And if younger staff are being pushed away to less attractive areas, it will be a lot harder to retain them,” he asserts.

Instead, what could help, according to the Managing Director, is increased transparency in pricing, in order to mitigate indiscriminate increases. “One important motion which was brought up during HR Connect, and when the Government’s white paper on the rental market was issued for public consultation, was to make rental prices public to avoid speculation. This would make it much harder for landlords to decide to increase rents by 20 per cent or 30 per cent, out of the blue, which is what sometimes happens today,” he proposes.

Indeed, this has posed a significant challenge to the sector, Mr Lindh underlines, going on to explain how it has affected recruitment, across lower-level positions, and contributed to the increase in vacancies firms are struggling to fill. “Junior staff just aren’t as enticed to live abroad unless they are in an attractive area. This was discussed at HR Connect, a human resources forum representing the major iGaming companies on the island, and the stakeholders attending agreed that this has been one of the biggest issues to date,” he explains. But, would regulating rental prices in Malta ameliorate the situation, in his view? “I don’t think so. It would make it less attractive to invest in property and the market is always controlled by supply and demand. We would just trade one issue for another. For example, in Sweden, it’s nearly impossible to move to Stockholm and rent a flat. Literally. There is a waiting list – ten years long, in some cases – which makes it difficult for international companies to establish themselves there,” he states.

“MAKING RENTAL PRICES PUBLIC WOULD MAKE IT MUCH HARDER FOR LANDLORDS TO DECIDE TO INCREASE RENTS BY 20 PER CENT OR 30 PER CENT, OUT OF THE BLUE, WHICH IS WHAT SOMETIMES HAPPENS TODAY.” Pierre Lindh, Managing Director, Ambassador Events

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Despite the rising costs, however, Mr Lindh does not see iGaming companies moving out of Malta any time soon. Rather, he expresses optimism that the market will eventually regulate itself, though he does sound a note of caution. “If the world goes through another recession – such as the one in 2008 – the bubble might burst and this might affect Malta especially badly,” he asserts. Enrico Bradamante, Chairman of the iGaming European Network (iGEN), an iGaming industry trade association, agrees that the cost of living is becoming prohibitive for those in the sector, citing the increasing rental costs – of both >


SUMMER 2019 PROPERTY

Photo by Alan Carville

Due to this, professionals starting out in the iGaming sector, and who have relocated to Malta, end up sharing a three-bedroomed apartment, “which is not ideal due to the lack of privacy,” Mr Bradamante continues. “The other alternative, considering the cost of accommodation in central areas, is to move further away from those places of work. But the public transport system is not very developed and reliable, so this adds time. If you decide to have a car, this then contributes to the traffic problem. And, apart from rental costs, you have groceries, and all the other essentials which add to your budget, and which are also rising. These dynamics cause some financial strain, especially for these younger employees, who end up not as satisfied as they could have been,” he explains, emphasising that “this is no longer sustainable.” There are other concerns troubling stakeholders in the iGaming sector, Mr Bradamante continues. “We also have a lack of transparency and a lack of protection, both for landlords and for tenants. There have been cases, for instance, where landlords have abused of their position and

“THE OTHER ALTERNATIVE, CONSIDERING THE COST OF ACCOMMODATION IN CENTRAL AREAS, IS TO MOVE FURTHER AWAY FROM THOSE PLACES OF WORK. BUT THE PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEM IS NOT VERY DEVELOPED AND RELIABLE, SO THIS ADDS TIME.” forced increases or evictions, while tenants commercial and residential spaces – as a major cause. “This is something which is affecting everyone, since most of those working in the field, have to rent. There are, of course, people who settle and buy in Malta, but this is not what usually happens,” he says.

have sometimes left before the end of their rental period, which also results in issues,” he asserts. The crux of the problem, the Chairman states, is that there is no common contract. “They are all different, depending on the landlord and there is no consistency from a legal perspective, apart from any small claims you may have. Therefore, there’s no recourse to solve any of these issues.”

Echoing Mr Lindh, the iGEN Chairman also notes that the hardest hit are those on the lower end of the pay scale, as a result of several, interlocked, issues. “Within the iGaming sector, you have many different roles and salary rates, and most of the staff complement consists of younger employees such as dealers, customer care representatives and copywriters, sometimes working their first job. If I am on online casino dealer, for instance, and I’m 21, or even if I’m a 25-year-old customer support agent, I’m not going to earn that much,” he explains.

He also advocates for transparency in relation to the actual price of property and payment methods. “For example, in the UK you can access websites and see how much money the house has been bought for. This does not exist in Malta, for whatever reason. Landlords also commonly request cash payments and in my mind there’s only one reason to do this – they don’t want to pay tax – so this lack of >

Enrico Bradamante, Chairman, iGEN

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SUMMER 2019 PROPERTY

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transparency creates an environment where people can cheat the system and pay less taxes,” he states. The need for action is clear, according to Mr Bradamante, who explains that iGEN has made a number of recommendations to the authorities, based on the personal and professional experience of the partners within the entity. “Granted, the real estate market is not an area of competence of ours, but we are all consumers and we have had healthy discussions with Government about what we feel could help those working in the sector,” he says. Of prime importance, and central to solving the impasse, he continues, would be to base any increases in property rates on a salary index. “And this would also help all the Maltese working in other industries, since that’s where they should be looking at and not at the market rates in the bubble areas of Sliema, St Julian’s and so on,” he underlines. For those working in the iGaming sector specifically, Mr Bradamante favours the creation of more onebedroom apartments, since this would allow younger professionals to rent, and retain their privacy. Based on the discussions had with the Government, Mr Bradamante remains hopeful that things will improve. “We’ve been feeding these comments to those concerned, including Housing Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes, who ran the public consultation last year on the new rent laws. So, they’ve heard from us. Now, Government should be in the process of drawing up the law and there will be a shorter consultation period before it is approved by Parliament later on this year,” he explains.

Photo by DOI - Glodagh Farrugia O’Neill

Indeed, in comments to this publication, Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and the Property Market, Chris Agius, also refers to the white paper on rent reform as evidence of Government’s commitment to “give stability to those who cannot afford to buy their property or, worse still, pay for a decent apartment.” Precise details on all the proposals to become law were scant, though Dr Agius does explain that the aim is to encourage

longer leases at set annual increments while, at the same time, safeguarding the lessors’ rights through the introduction of mandatory minimum rental contracts, with annual increases in rent, which would be agreed beforehand between the landlord and tenant. In cases where this is not possible, the white paper also suggests introducing “fiscal incentives, as opposed to forced minimum duration,” he adds. Such “regulatory intervention could provide a substitute force to counter a market failure, especially so in the field of affordable housing,” he asserts. Moreover, Dr Agius is quick to tie in the buoyancy in the property market with the health of Malta’s economy, stating, perhaps predictably, that the key reason for why residential and commercial spaces have increased in price over the last few years has been due to “the strength of Malta’s overall’s economy which finds its basis in a strong GDP, low unemployment and continued income growth.” He also notes that the influx of foreign nationals has fuelled demand, implying that fluctuations in numbers would produce different scenarios, since “one should not be led to assume that price trends are not immune to change.” Indeed, the Parliamentary Secretary’s comments – while, perhaps, not unfamiliar – reassert the authorities’ faith in that free market economy which has produced dividends for this administration. Whether this approach will persist in upholding Malta’s claim to the title of iGaming capital of Europe, however, remains to be seen.

“REGULATORY INTERVENTION COULD PROVIDE A SUBSTITUTE FORCE TO COUNTER A MARKET FAILURE, ESPECIALLY SO IN THE FIELD OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING.” Chris Agius, Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and the Property Market

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SUMMER 2019 PRESS

A winning selection of new furniture for QuickSpin head office

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uickspin, a Swedish Casino software company, tasked DEX Workspaces to supply new furniture for its office, including desks with screens, ergonomic swivel chairs and a fully furnished boardroom. The client was focused on the aesthetic of the interior for clients visiting the office, and this was realised through the Vista and Opera ranges from Newform. Furthermore, the client also wanted to fit the space with furniture that was both comfortable and easy for staff to use, and this was achieved through our Quinti, Slalom and Metalmobil ranges.

The lead architect on this project, Bernard Vella, chose DEX specifically for this task as it “offers office furniture of quality,” which fit the brief requested by the client. Sarah Jane Vella, Sales Consultant at DEX shares that the working relationship with the client’s architect was clear and smooth, and that both parties “were able to provide for all the client’s needs.”

This project at QuickSpin was very successful all throughout its inception up until its completion, despite the fact that the two-month timeframe was very tight. The client was very much involved in the entire process, and understood how things were going and trusted our team to deliver on its promises.

Overall, QuickSpin was very pleased with the outcome of our work, and the general feeling we have towards this project echoes Mr Vella’s parting statement – “this is a winner”.

Malta’s first cloud-based payroll system since 2001 product does not require any installation, licensing or maintenance fees. Salaroo enables users to process wages and salaries off-site anytime and from anywhere, using an Internet connection. It is a fully functional payroll system including all the features and functionality required to issue complex payrolls in minutes.

aunched in 2001, Salaroo is Malta’s first software as a service payroll system. Originally named Dakar Internet Payroll, it was rebranded as Salaroo in 2007. Currently, Salaroo services over 2,000 companies. The system caters for small to medium sized companies. Besides being used by companies for their internal payroll services, it is also used by accountants and payroll users, offering their clients a payroll bureau service.

The system issues payslips, which can be downloaded or received via email, and generates all mandatory Government reports. Salaroo generates SEPA direct credits for all local and foreign banks, integrates with third-party accounting packages and includes several payroll analysis reports, including a simple, yet powerful, ad hoc reporting tool. The system can also handle multiple companies, absence management and enables uploading of employee-related documents, contracts and photos.

Salaroo is a cloud-based solution, hosted in a secure local environment where data is administered, maintained and backed-up on a regular basis. The

Users may try the product free with no obligation for 30 days. You may start using Salaroo immediately by simply registering on www.salaroo.com.

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SUMMER 2019 PRESS

Meta Luminor: the FinTech Connector

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The company can also help assess, guide and even develop projects looking to tokenise, and if it believes that the projects it assesses have scalable potential, it is normally also willing to plug them into its network of venture capitalists.

s a self-confessed growth hacker dedicated to building start-ups that are eager to expand on a global sphere within the FinTech and DLT space, Philip Maurice Mifsud recently founded the advisory firm Meta Luminor. He spent most of his youth living in the UK and studying in London, and he had already built a strong network in the financial services space when he returned to the island to launch one of Malta’s first digital marketing agencies back in 2009.

Through its advisory network – and especially through his Silicon Valley connections – 2018 saw the company help fund in excess of €710 million for about 120 ICOs. Moreover, the company is working on several other projects, which include putting at least eight governments on the blockchain and introducing FinTech solutions and cybersecurity solutions there.

He later joined companies that provided both software and hardware technology solutions, besides taking on the role of Senior Vice President for Blockchain Generations clients’, www.bcghub.com, and all their EU-based projects. Mr Mifsud recently launched Meta Luminor Co Ltd – a dedicated DLT and FinTech Advisory company – specialising in providing advisory services to source IBANs for, mainly, new tech industries, such as those in gaming, DLT (blockchain), ICOs, STOs and ETOs, medical pharma, FinTech and even crypto exchanges, to name but a few.

metaluminor.com

Apcopay: an all-in-one payments solution platform

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pcopay is an all-in-one payments solution platform that provides clients with all they need to cater for multi-channel and multi-currency payment options through a single interface. The solution is designed to cater for high transaction volumes, scalability and continuous improvement. We are specialists in payment solutions with over 15 years’ industry experience, driven by a passionate team of experts. With headquarters in Malta, Apcopay encompasses a blend of over 40 acquiring partners and over 240 payment options to over 1,200 merchants in over 25 countries.

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Apcopay has been specialising in processing payments for iGaming since 2004, providing a unique ecosystem with everything you need from one integration. Enabling you to quickly grow your business around the world, Apcopay provides you the tools to expand into new markets fast, using efficient payment processing partners and every widely-used payment option on the market. Solving some of the most complex challenges, Apcopay empowers you to harness your payments delivery channels and execute faster in your growing target markets. www.apcopay.eu


SUMMER 2019 PRESS

Live. Work. Play

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ontemporary Danish furniture brand, BoConcept, leverages its decades of design expertise to extend its contract furniture arm and secure success for businesses around the world.

A tailored 360-degree service BoConcept understands that no two projects are the same. Its dedicated consultants design each service package based on the client’s individual project needs. Clients can choose a full 360-degree service, comprising interior consultation, product selection, professional installation and after-sales service.

BoConcept is the world’s most global furniture brand, and has been designing, developing and producing furniture in Denmark since 1952. This heritage gives versatile solutions with personality and an essence of home at the office or hospitality venue. Design that softens the edges of traditional contract solutions. It’s design for today’s work-life blend. It’s design for living. We call it people-first contract furniture.

The new business advantage “Homeliness used to be a quality valued only in residential and hospitality settings. Employees now want a feeling of home in their workspaces as well. Offices need to promote collaboration, and all spaces, across our three segments, must adapt to change of use. Designing for these qualities has always been central to our approach,” says Christian Malkemper, BoConcept Contract Director.

BoConcept works with world-renowned, award-winning international designers Karim Rashid, Morten Georgsen, nendo, Henrik Pedersen and Frans Schrofer, among others, designing products that are well-considered and which reflect our time and improve our lives. Broad customisation is a fundamental part of the BoConcept offering, with one of the biggest material and upholstery selections on the market. Functionality, modularity and reconfigurability enable spaces to adapt to customers’ ever-more-fluid usage demands.

For Malta projects, contact the BoConcept Malta team, at the BoConcept showroom and offices in Triq tal-Balal, San Gwann. E: bicontract@brands.com.mt; www.boconcept.com.mt

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SUMMER 2019 CALENDAR

iGaming Calendar Never miss an appointment – here are all the most important iGaming events, trade shows and conferences happening worldwide over the next few months.

THURSDAY 13TH

Award in iGaming – MQF Level 4 Malta

SUNDAY 16TH

SiGMA Roadshow

New Jersey, USA Russian Gaming Week

TUESDAY 18TH

All American Sports Betting Summit New Jersey, USA

JUNE 2019

Award in iGaming – MQF Level 4

SUNDAY 2ND

Malta

Digital Marketing International Expo (DMIE) 2019

American Gambling Awards™

LAGO, Rishon LeTsiyon, Israel

Oceanport, New Jersey, USA

TUESDAY 4TH

Peru Gaming Show

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Lima, Peru

THURSDAY 20TH

Award in iGaming – MQF Level 4

Award in iGaming – MQF Level 4

Malta

SiG MA

Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay, Northern California, USA

THURSDAY 6TH

WEDNESDAY 19TH

International Association of Gaming Advisors (IAGA)

Malta

FRIDAY 21ST

EGR Online Gambling Briefing Portugal 2019

Zurich iGaming Affiliate Conference

Altis Grand, Lisbon, Portugal

Zurich, Switzerland

Russian Gaming Week

SUNDAY 23RD

Moscow, Russia

Brasilian Gaming Congress (BgC) 2019

Award in iGaming – MQF Level 4

Tivoli Mofarrej, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Malta

National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Mid-Year Conference 2019

MONDAY 10TH

13th Annual Native American Economic Development Conference

Reno, Nevada, USA

Pechanga Resort and Casino, Temecula, California 92592, USA

TUESDAY 25TH

Award in iGaming – MQF Level 4

TUESDAY 11TH

Malta

AML and CFT in Gaming | Totally Gaming Academy

EGR B2B Awards 2019

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Tower of London, London, UK

Award in iGaming – MQF Level 4

EGR Marketing and Innovation Awards 2019

Malta

Tower of London, London, UK

WEDNESDAY 12TH

THURSDAY 27TH

Disrupting Online Gambling: Technology, Security and Regulation 2019

Award in iGaming – MQF Level 4 Malta

London, UK

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SUMMER 2019 CALENDAR

am

iG

JULY 2019

SEPTEMBER 2019

TUESDAY 2ND

SiGMA Roadshow

W Hotel, Barcelona, Spain

Lima, Peru

MONDAY 8TH

TUESDAY 3RD

Affiliate Conference and Expo (ACE) Manila

Entertainment Arena Expo

Manila, Philippines

Bucharest, Romania

WEDNESDAY 10TH

THURSDAY 5TH

EGR North America Midwest Briefing

Scandinavian Gaming Show

W Chicago City Centre, USA

Stockholm, Sweden

Artificial Intelligence Malta Summit

WEDNESDAY 11TH

iGaming Idol

Malta

InterContinental Arena, Malta

Award in iGaming – MQF Level 4

THURSDAY 12TH

EGR US Power Summit

Malta

FRIDAY 12TH

Phil-Asian Gaming Expo 2019

Idol

SUNDAY 1ST

World Gaming Executive Summit

THURSDAY 11TH

in g

SMX Convention Centre, Manila, Philippines

TUESDAY 17TH

Betting on Sports 2019 (#bosweek, #boscon2019)

SMX Convention Centre, Manila, Philippines

Olympia London, UK

Phil-Asian Gaming Expo (PAGE)

CasinoBeats Summit 2019 (#CasinoBeatsSummit)

Manila, Philippines

Olympia London, UK

TUESDAY 16TH

Amsterdam Affiliate Conference (AAC) 2019

WEDNESDAY 18TH

EL/WLA CSR-Responsible Gaming Seminar

Amsterdam RAI, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Croatia

iGB Live! 2019

MONDAY 23RD

Amsterdam RAI, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Gaming, Entertainment and Tourism Summit (GETS)

WEDNESDAY 17TH

Bhairahawa, Nepal

Casino Integrated Resort Show Asia

TUESDAY 24TH

Hall 1, Songdo Convensia, Incheon, South Korea

Central Eastern European Gaming Conference (CEEGC)

MONDAY 22ND

Budapest, Hungary

Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association (OIGA) 2019 Conference

Sportsbook Management Academy – Totally Gaming Academy

Tulsa, Oklahoma

London, UK

TUESDAY 23RD

Sports Betting West Africa

MONDAY 30TH

International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR) Annual Conference 2019

Lagos, Nigeria

The Half Moon, Montego Bay, Jamaica

AUGUST 2019 MONDAY 12TH

Source: www.igamingcalendar.com

GRWA (Gaming, Racing, Wagering, Australia) Sydney, Australia

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SUMMER 2019 COACH

ASK THE COACH

TA C K L I N G G L O B A L E X P A N S I O N

Marion Gamel is a C-level executive with over 20 years of experience. Having started her career as an entrepreneur, she then worked for Google and Eventbrite, and was Chief Marketing Officer of Betsson Group. Marion has been coaching entrepreneurs, founders and C-executives around the world since 2015. In this regular column, she provides advice to business leaders to empower them on issues ranging from improving efficiency to driving transformation and international growth within the company.

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Dear Marion, My company has undergone exciting levels of growth in its home market, and I believe it may be time to take it to the next level by growing internationally. How do I know that I’m not being too premature about my plans for entering a new market? And is there some sort of fail-safe checklist that will ensure that I’m approaching this whole ‘global expansion’ thing in the right way? Sincerely, Ambitious CEO

Dear CEO, Growing out of one’s home country is a normal ambition and a ‘great’ problem for a company to have. However, international expansion is paved with risks and challenges. There are ways to make international expansion safe and scalable, even for companies of a rather small size. In this column, I will tap into my experiences at Google and Eventbrite, which were going global when I worked there. Most businesses aspire to expand internationally. The benefits of international expansion include more customers, more revenue and exponentially growing the value of your company. Yet, going global comprises its share of challenges and risks.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR COMPANY IS READY TO GROW GLOBALLY? Before you make any move toward international expansion, this question has to be answered with confidence. Being ‘global ready’ means: 1. Having clarity on how to mitigate the dilution of your effort. While your team adapts your offering to fit the new country requirements, it focuses less on product innovation. 2. Feeling confident about your company culture and corporate identity to the point that it can withstand welcoming faraway teams based in different time zones, people with different backgrounds, who you’ll mostly communicate with electronically. 3. Being clear about the budget you are ready to invest. Addressing a new audience is expensive and takes time. It may be a case of ‘baby budgets, baby results’. How much are you ready to invest and how long can you afford to wait until it yields returns? It is also essential to know how strong your company is in its home market: Are you among the leaders? Is your home market very competitive or going through a shift in legislation? Is there a risk that one of your competitors could take over leadership while your company’s not paying enough attention to its home market, or at risk of consolidation which you may become the victim of? If you feel that your position in your home market is strong and secure, let’s move on to the five steps to tackle global expansion, safely and efficiently. >

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THE 5 STEPS OF GLOBAL EXPANSION STEP 1 – PRIORITISE Several countries may represent a great opportunity for your business. In order to help you prioritise new markets, you must tap into two sources of data. The first kind is internal data. You probably already have several users from around the world, who’ve come to you organically. Where is the ‘pull’ happening? What value do these foreign users represent per head, versus users from your home market? This will tell you where there is already a strong and valuable demand for your offering, and where there may be the most opportunity.

STEP 2 – PLAN Now’s the time to plan everything in detail. The things you need to consider include: 1. The salient aspects of this country, including taxation and legislation. Do you need a local bank account? Do you need to have a local entity, and therefore, establish an office? 2. Local customs and how business is conducted. Is it a market where customers are happy to conduct business via email and phone? Or is personal contact essential, meaning you need a team on site? 3. The level of effort required to localise your offering to the new market. Localisation is much more than translation. A simple example of this is the difference in the way dates are written in the USA and in Europe. ‘01/03’ in the USA means 3rd January, while in Europe it means 1st March. For an event company like Eventbrite, this is a make-or-break type of detail which – if not localised – means the platform cannot be used in Europe. Localisation work may require engineering work, to be planned within your road map.

The second kind is external data. Eventbrite, in its early stage of global expansion, developed a ‘ripeness model’ which took into consideration a set of data relevant to its business model – the size of the population, mobile phone penetration, e-commerce adoption, GDP, political stability, competitive landscape, languages and more. This led to a first ranking of countries to be considered. An analyst would then assess how Eventbrite was likely to grow and prosper in the top-ranking foreign markets, should they experience the same pace of growth as its home market did. This approach empowers you to answer the million dollar question: what would our business look like in five years, if we do as well in the new market as we did at home? It also helps you know which is the lowest-hanging fruit – the country that is already showing interest in your offering, where all the levers are in place, with a solid prediction for the future.

At this early stage, there are two audiences you need to address. The first audience comprises companies that are similar to yours in terms of size and growth pattern. When I worked at Eventbrite, I used to speak to my peers at Airbnb and Etsy. We shared tips, knowledge and experience. The second audience is made up of local customers. You don’t want to make wrong assumptions –send some product and sales people to the market, organise meet ups with local existing and potential customers. Gather their requirements, from ‘must-haves’, all the way to ‘icing on the cake’. >

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STEP 3 – PARTNER Something which I learned at Google is that building brand awareness in a completely new market is time- and money-consuming. Yet, creating alliances with strategic local partners will considerably alleviate this hurdle. A partner could be a non-competing local business that introduces you to their customer base. But you need to know what you’re ready to offer in return. This can be a tech edge if your company is innovative, help to the local partner if they want to launch in your home market, or added value in the shape of a unique promotion only available to your partner’s users.

STEP 4 – GO! Now is the time to act fast and act strong. You have to be fast, because local competitors will have noticed the preparation work you’ve been doing, and you have to be strong, as in, give it all you’ve got! A local launch, an aggressive PR roadshow with your founder giving interviews to local publications, a team ready to do business on the ground – the sky’s the limit here. Once you’ve reached this stage, it’s time to send in your SWAT team composed of stellar employees, who’ve grown your home market and who are excited to do it all over again in the new country. While they lift the market off the ground, they’ll build a local team. With a SWAT team on the ground, you’re operational within days, which gives you plenty of time to recruit the top of crop locally.

STEP 5 – TESTING AND LEARN TO SCALE In true start-up style, be scrappy! There will be failures along the way but as long as you learn, it’s okay. Test various approaches – pricing structures, marketing campaigns, strategic partners, even a freemium model. Assess them, learn and try again. Entering a new market is about adapting what you already know to local specifications and gathering each of these learnings so the next market you tackle will be less of a challenge. In time, you’ll want to build an international expansion toolkit that empowers your company to grow at scale in any region of the world.

“BUILDING BRAND AWARENESS IN A COMPLETELY NEW MARKET IS TIME- AND MONEYCONSUMING. YET, CREATING ALLIANCES WITH STRATEGIC LOCAL PARTNERS WILL CONSIDERABLY ALLEVIATE THIS HURDLE.” 0138

This five-step plan has worked for some of the most successful tech companies and it mitigates risks, while empowering your company to take on the world, one country at a time. Good luck! Marion Got question for Marion? Email her on marion.gamel@gmail.com


SUMMER 2019 PAPARAZZI

PAPA RAZZI

From the coolest parties to the best company perks, iGaming Capital’s Paparazzi pages showcase everything that makes the iGaming industry in Malta so much fun to be part of.

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BETSSON GROUP

1-2. Easter 2019 at Betsson Many Betssonites at Betsson Group’s different offices are chocoholics, so the Easter Bunny made a stop to deliver an Easter egg for everyone.

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BETSSON GROUP

3-5. Managers Forum Betsson Groups ‘Centre of Excellence’ holds monthly meetings with all people managers informing them about new initiatives, projects and activities. 3 5

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BETSSON GROUP

6-12. Friday Bar2 Betsson Group organises a weekly Friday bar and sometimes, it organises Friday Bar², where Betssonites can bring along their partners. In the March Friday Bar², Betsson Group also organised karaoke!

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BETSSON GROUP

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13-14. University Lectures In March, Betsson Group’s Head of SEO Eitan Gorodetsky, delivered a lecture to students reading for an MSc in Strategic Management and Digital Marketing at the University of Malta. In April, Adam Woodley, Betsson Group’s Global Head of Recruitment, talked to students about how in the future they can secure a career in the iGaming industry.

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VIDEOSLOTS

15-16. Videoslots’ February event, Disco Wheel of Jackpots, celebrated the launch of a new gamification feature on the company’s website with karaoke, good food and drinks.

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JACKPOTJOY GROUP 17-22. Employees dressed up in 1920s costumes for their 2018 Christmas Party at the Paranga, St Julian’s.

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JACKPOTJOY GROUP

23-25. Employees enjoying a big day out with family and friends at their annual Family Day Event in April 2019.

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BLEXR

26-31. The Blexr team recently visited Barcelona for its latest PI planning. The staff then enjoyed a day of sightseeing.

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KINDRED GROUP

32-36. At the end of February, a group of Kindred Group employees gathered to spend one of their three annual CSR days carrying out restoration works at Villa Chelsea. It is part of the Richmond Foundation’s properties that offer a supportive and therapeutic environment to people with mental health problems. The day was spent painting, cleaning and doing general restoration work.

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LEOVEGAS

37-39. At the afterwork event in March, LeoVegas hosted a karaoke night catered with Maltese food.

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WA N T T O B E I N I GA M I NG CA P I TA L’ S N E X T PA PA R A Z Z I PAG E S ? Have you got an iGaming event, party or gathering you want to feature in iGaming Capital? A spectacular company trip, a successful seminar, or an achievement you want to show off? We want to hear from you. Send us your write-up and high-res photos on newsroom@contenthouse.com.mt

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