CountryProfiler 2019 Edition
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Established in 2014 to disrupt and reshape the industry, some of iGaming’s finest and fieriest minds came together, united by the vision of creating a casino experience like no other. Four short years later, Genesis successfully launched its 7th incredible brand and counting! Regulated by the UKGC and MGA, Genesis is as committed to its partners as its players with its newly rebooted Genesis Affiliates program offering top-tier commission pay-outs supporting the values of success and integrity that underpins everything Genesis does!
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More brands from the house of Genesis:
REMOTE GAMING LICENCES Malta, Bulgaria, Spain, Romania, UK, Italy, Greece and Curaçao
PAYMENT SERVICE PROVIDERS (PSP) LICENCES Financial Institution (FI), Electronic Money (e-Money), Payment Institution (PI)
FINTECH – BLOCKCHAIN – CRYPTOCURRENCY DISTRIBUTED LEDGER TECH (DLT) ADVISORY SERVICES
Incorporation of Company, Fiduciary Service, Licensing, Key Oﬃcial, Legal and Technical Consultancy, Corporate and Financial Compliance, Post-Licensing Support, System and Compliance Audit, Business Plan Drafting, Acquisitions and Mergers Malta Villa Ichang, Triq Mons. Alfredo Mifsud, Ta' Xbiex XBX 1063 | +356 2137 0333 Sofia, Bulgaria Zlaten Rog No16, Lozenetz | +359 876 923 291
Meet the Team
CountryProfiler 2019 Edition
GAMINGMALTA Malta: The Worldâ€™s iGaming Capital
CountryProfiler Ltd is a specialist publisher of country information that assists corporations managing operations across national borders with trade, investment and relocation decisions. CountryProfiler is recognised by senior business executives, government representatives, institutions and global organisations as a leading provider of informative, insightful and actionable country intelligence.
Garvan Keating CEO
Sonja Lindenberg Editor
64, St Anne Court, Suite 2, Bisazza Street, Sliema SLM 1642 - Malta T: +356 2034 2034
Suite 21-2123, Walkers Line, Burlington, Ontario L7M 42Z9 - Canada Tel: +1 905 645 1130
Melissa Puglisevich Office Manager
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.countryprofiler.com
CONTRIBUTor Rachel Rigby
Alina Anisimova Journalist
DESIGN & LAYOUT
Ramon Micallef - email@example.com
Gutenberg Press, Malta
Publication Date November 2018
Giulia Desogus Editorial Assistant firstname.lastname@example.org
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part is strictly prohibited without the written permission of the publisher. Opinions expressed in Gaming Malta are not necessarily those of the editor or publisher. All reasonable care is taken to ensure truth and accuracy, but the editor and publisher cannot be held responsible for errors or omissions in articles, advertising, photographs, or illustrations. Ramon Micallef Art Director
It’s all about results. Your Trusted iGaming Partner in Malta. iGaming Licence Applications • Corporate & Tax Structuring • Accounting & Payroll Regulatory & Compliance • IT Systems Review & Assurance • Bank Accounts & ePayment Solutions • Key Function Services • Blockchain & VFA Services Regulatory Setup iGaming Recruitment & Work Permits • Serviced Office • Property Sales & Letting
CSB Group offers its clients a spectrum of specialised business and commercial services that guarantee a complete turnkey solution to clients wishing to setup or relocate their business to Malta. Working hand in hand with a selected network of international partners, the Group aims at exceeding clients’ expectations through a sound and results-oriented business approach.
Tel: +356 2557 2557 | Email: email@example.com
Where to meet us next SiGMA Malta 2018, ICE London 2019, G2E Asia 2019 iGB Live! Amsterdam 2019, G2E Las Vegas 2019
Corporate | Trust | Accounting | Tax | Immigration Fintech | Recruitment | Relocation | Real Estate
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Malta at a Glance........................................................................................................................................ 8 iGaming Jurisdiction Overview................................................................................................................ 10 Interview With Silvio Schembri, Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy & Innovation .................................................. 22 Interview with Ivan Filletti Head of Operations and Business Development of the GamingMalta Foundation................26 Growing Creatively................................................................................................................................... 28
iGaming Perspectives The Regulator..................................................................................................................................... The Operator....................................................................................................................................... The Affiliate......................................................................................................................................... The Investor........................................................................................................................................ The Start-Up....................................................................................................................................... The Lawyer......................................................................................................................................... The Data Protection Commissioner.................................................................................................. The Blockchain Expert ...................................................................................................................... The Influencer Marketing Agency.................................................................................................... The Payment Specialist....................................................................................................................... The Stock Exchange............................................................................................................................ The Esports Integrity Commissioner................................................................................................ The Games Developer........................................................................................................................ The Titan.............................................................................................................................................
30 35 38 40 42 44 52 60 66 72 76 82 86 96
Trends & Topics Compliance......................................................................................................................................... 48 Marketing............................................................................................................................................ 55 Technology.......................................................................................................................................... 64 Payments............................................................................................................................................. 74 Investor Relations............................................................................................................................... 79 Human Resources............................................................................................................................... 80 Affiliates.............................................................................................................................................. 84 New Markets........................................................................................................................................ 91 New Products..................................................................................................................................... 94 Responsible Gaming.......................................................................................................................... 98 Creating Synergy in Malta â€“ Mark Attard of BDO Malta....................................................................... 78 3 Questions with Reuben Portanier, Director of Caledo....................................................................... 88 3 Questions with Simon Wykes, CEO of Jackpotjoy Group.................................................................. 90 Interview with Russell Mifsud, Associate Director & Head of Gaming at KPMG Malta.................... 92 Growth Through Simplicity ................................................................................................................... 102 Playing by The Rules............................................................................................................................... 105 Closing the Gap........................................................................................................................................ 116 Interview with Enrico Bradamante, Chairperson of iGaming European Network (iGEN)............... 118 Interview with Roger A Strickland Jr., Director of CSB Group........................................................... 120 iGaming Events........................................................................................................................................ 123 iGaming Calendar.................................................................................................................................... 130 My Malta in 3 Words............................................................................................................................... 132 Sliema is Not The Limit- Edward Agius and Michaela Tabone of RE/MAX...................................... 134 Directorâ€™s Guide ...................................................................................................................................... 137 Malta Business Profiles........................................................................................................................... 147
B4U Global Payment Clearinghouse
We are the bridge between flat and cryptic currencies worldwide. We provide the gaming community a full array of pay-in and pay-out services and options for players. With access to the global financial networks, clients of B4U can provide their players multiple options, tailored to their specific requirements. You can use us via your laptop and your mobile devices. We currently have offices in Texas, Malta, India, Panama and Nigeria and will be adding other locations around the world. Yet we are more than a payments clearinghouse, we are soon launching in the United States with ATM devices and right after that we will launch our merchant payment acceptance platform. Our vision is to provide our clients the best in clearinghouse services.
Scan the QR-codes to get the App 20/1 Republic Street, Valletta - Malta | firstname.lastname@example.org
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Malta at a Glance
Location: Southern Europe Official Name: Republic of Malta Area: 316 km2
Capital: Valletta Memberships: European Union, Eurozone, Schengen Area
Located in the centre of the Mediterranean, between Europe and North Africa, Malta is the European Union’s smallest member state. Famous for its 7,000-year history and 300 days of sunshine, Malta has emerged as one of the most remarkable success stories in the Eurozone. Recognised for its pro-business attitude, state-of-the-art infrastructure and modest costs of doing business, it has become the go-to country for growth-minded entrepreneurs and multinational companies.
Malta’s Economy 2017 GDP Growth:
2017 Unemployment Rate:
2018: 5.4% (est.) 2019: 4.9% (est.)
2018: 3.9% (est.) 2019: 4.0% (est.)
2017: Surplus 3.9% 2017: Debt to GDP 47.1%
Source: European Economic Forecast, Autumn 2017
The Maltese Islands were once best known as a holiday destination. However, over recent years, the country has sought to diversify its economy beyond tourism by promoting a range of sectors and activities, including financial services, tourism, iGaming, construction & real estate, manufacturing, life sciences, maritime and aviation.
population of which: Maltese: 94% - Foreign: 6%
days of sunshine/ year
Temperature average: Winter 12ºC Summer 31ºC
Malta’s Gaming Sector GDP Contribution:
Gaming Tax Revenue:
Full time Employment:
Number of licences (Sep ’18):
iGaming companies in operation (Sep ’18):
Player profile: 18-24 years:
METHOD OF PAYMENTS: Credit / Debit Card:
E-wallet & Online Account
Maltese & English
International Dialling Code:
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
A New World of
Malta is reshaping its iGaming sector into a more agile industry ready to compete in anÂ AI-powered and data-driven world. Armed with a brand-new package of regulations and a focus on innovative technologies, Maltaâ€™s appeal never seems to go out of fashion.
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
ew countries in the world have a vision for iGaming as defined as Malta’s. The rapid expansion of the sector over recent years shows no sign of slowing down. The first EU country to regulate online gaming, Malta today has an outsize influence in the world of iGaming. In spite of its modest size and numbers, the island is just over 316 square kilometres in area and is home to 460,000 people, Malta is regarded as the most prestigious address for gaming operators. iGaming has grown into one of Malta’s most important economic contributors. Today, the industry accounts for 11% of the island’s GDP and employs more than 6,600 people directly, with an additional 3,000 to 4,000 providing ancillary services such as web hosting, security auditing or legal work. Malta, in essence, serves as the backbone of the industry, attracting the largest gaming operators and suppliers, as well as some of the hottest start-ups.
A Corporate Love Affair
Malta’s open-arm attitude to iGaming companies has seen major corporations and household names flock to the Mediterranean island. Malta plays host to industry heavyweights, such as Betsson, Paddy Power Betfair, GiG, GVC, Kindred, Stars Group, SKS365, DraftKings, LeoVegas, Evolution, and Tipico. Brexit is creating interest from other big league companies like William Hill, bet365
and 888 that are looking to plant a flag on the island. But it is not just the major gaming companies that have been beating a path to Malta, the island has also found fans amongst the large group of B2B suppliers and service providers. Today Malta offers a thriving gaming ecosystem, where gaming companies can find everything and everyone they need to do business with, ranging from game developers and solution providers such as NetEnt, Play ‘n Go, Aspire, Microgaming, Betconstruct and Greentube, to affiliate marketing firms such as Catena Media, Raketech, MatchingVisions and Gambling.com.
20 Years in the Game
Malta has an impeccable 20-year track record in regulating iGaming companies. The first online gaming operators arrived on the island in the late 1990s, well before the dotcom boom. Blazing a new trail, Malta, unlike many other countries that sought to protect their monopolies, allowed commercial operators to set up and enter the gaming market. The government quickly recognised the need for a dedicated regulatory framework and set up a regulatory authority for this young industry just before Malta joined the European Union in 2004. The past 20 years have left Malta with a legacy of know-how and experience that it has put to work in developing what the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) refers to as next generation legislation.
“Malta’s new Gaming Act addresses conflicts of laws, paving the way for technology convergence and games neutral forms of licensing activities. While the revamp of Malta’s iGaming regulations will ensure the sustainability of the industry in the years to come, iGaming companies will operate in a well-regulated ecosystem that will allow space for further growth and investment.” Roger A. Strickland Jr Director of CSB Group
OUR SERVICES Investment Migration Corporate Fiduciary
Accounting Advisory Compliance Resources
Intelligence Blockchain Tax
Ewropa Business Centre, Level 3, Suite 701, Dun Karm Street, Bâ€™ Kara, BKR9034, Malta +356 2549 6000 email@example.com
Capstone Group in Birkirkara Ewropa Business Centre, Level 3, Suite 703, Dun Karm Street, Birkirkara, BKR 9034, Malta T (+356) 2549 6500 F (+356) 2549 6666 firstname.lastname@example.org
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
“Malta has been at the forefront of the iGaming industry since 2004 and today is a leading jurisdiction, attracting international companies to relocate to the island. Malta has the relevant resources, legislation, experience, and infrastructure to support iGaming businesses with their operations and real estate needs.” Michael J. Zammit Director and Joint Owner of Malta Sotheby’s International Realty
An International Licence
Malta continues to impress as a leading iGaming hub, despite the fact that the global regulatory landscape for the sector is in flux like never before. Malta’s industry had for many years enjoyed unrestricted access to all EU member states, and many had expected that the island would lose some of its market dominance as more and more countries introduced their own national licensing regimes. Although companies now have to hold separate local licences in all regulated markets that they are operating in, the mass-exodus of gaming companies did not happen. Instead the island has emerged as one of the big winners having attracted record numbers of operators and service providers. Big-name operators and start-ups are lining up to receive their licences from the MGA. But why are they coming? The country’s competitive corporate tax system certainly helps, however, companies insist that this alone is not enough to convince them to move to the island as other EU countries offer lower rates. The primary attraction of the Malta licence is that it is an international one that does not restrict an operator to the Maltese market but gives companies the opportunity to exploit white and grey areas in the rest of the world.
Rewriting the Rules
The iGaming industry is today facing technological disruption and change like never before. The increasingly maturing industry demands smoother processes, as well as better regulation for new forms of gaming. The government set itself the task of crafting
a whole new set of rules and regulations that would provide the gaming industry with the platform it requires to respond to today’s realities and future developments. The new Gaming Act entered into force in August 2018 and has radically transformed the way the sector is regulated. The new law simplifies and streamlines processes, avoids duplication and speeds up time to market for operators. One of the major changes was the introduction of just two licence categories: a Business-to-Business and a Business-to-Consumer licence. A new set of licence fees and compliance contributions has also been introduced, while licences are now valid for 10 years instead of a 5-year period.
Big in Support
Regulation is only part of the reason for Malta’s global role in the iGaming industry. The island’s main draw-card is the ease of doing business. The presence of data centres, online payment processors, security auditors, gaming software developers, and platform providers contributes to a tailor-made environment that is conducive to growing a successful business. Consultants with technical expertise are always on hand to support critical operations in areas such as search engine optimisation and affiliate management companies. Equally, the island’s lawyers and accountants have a wealth of experience, ensuring that a vibrant and creative cluster of talent and know-how is in place to help companies manage and grow their operations. This is unique in Europe and goes a long way towards explaining Malta’s identity as the world’s iGaming capital.
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GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
From Start-up to Scale-Up
The power of rapid scaling is a huge competitive advantage for companies setting up in Malta, which is positioning itself as a key innovation hub for the sector. The start-up and creative culture is being channelled into a vast array of products and services such as analytical tools, games development, fantasy sports and esports. Meanwhile, others are developing virtual and augmented reality products, cloud platforms based on artificial intelligence; as well as new and innovative payment methods. Gaming start-ups find Malta a particularly attractive place due to the concentration of industry players, talent and suppliers on the island. Many of Malta’s first arrivals have grown from small start-ups to global giants. In more recent times, the island has seen the emergence of a new generation of start-ups. They aim to scale fast and enjoy the backing of some of the most experienced and wealthiest investors in the industry. Well-funded and with great ambitions, they are hoping to make a big splash, and many are already on the acquisition trail themselves. Technology and service innovation go hand-in-hand, and the island is carving out a niche for services that are not on offer in other iGaming jurisdictions: Malta can be a disaster recovery site, a base for payment companies and back-office activities. Malta’s success as an iGaming hub is also having the knock-on effect of enticing other industries into establishing a presence of their own. Case in point: video game developers and publishing companies,
as well as gamers themselves, have relocated to the island to take advantage of business incentives and high quality of life.
Malta is also turning heads in the iGaming industry for its willingness to embrace innovative and emerging technologies. Calling itself the ‘blockchain island’, Malta has introduced the world’s first holistic regulatory framework for Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs). The framework initially captures DLT platforms and smart contracts only, but the government is now working on extending its reach to other platforms and technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. The rise of emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, big data and blockchain offer the iGaming industry great opportunities to tackle a myriad of transparency issues, automate processes and completely redesign its business model. Malta’s innovative drive has made the island appealing for DLT innovators. Despite its minuscule size, the island has attracted a host of innovative companies, including crypto exchanges, ICO platforms and developers of blockchain-based tools and applications, which have either relocated or established new offices on the island. This opens up exciting opportunities for iGaming companies. They can work with some of the brightest names in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry to develop, test and scale innovative products and solutions.
“The major trends that are characterising the industry revolve around three streams. The first being the continuous movement in M&As, the second being how to cope with multijurisdictional compliance which does not only relate to gaming regulation but also to VAT, AML and GDPR, while the last but most exciting one relates to blockchain technology within gaming. On the latter, Malta is uniquely positioned.” Reuben Portanier Founder of Avviza Advisory and Afilexion Alliance
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
A Brexit Partner
Malta is now preparing for a new influx of companies that are packing their bags ahead of Brexit. Although Malta is not pitching as aggressively as other nations for UK business, the island’s co-location, not relocation, approach has resonated with operators seeking an address in the European Union. William Hill, bet365 and 888 are reportedly among the companies that are moving operations to the island should the UK leave the European Union.
A Talent-Driven World
While the arrival of new companies and gaming executives will further cement Malta’s position as a leading iGaming jurisdiction, it will most likely amplify the challenges that companies operating out of Malta are already facing. There are signs of a strain in the talent pool given that the industry often requires specialist knowledge that cannot be sourced locally. Although Malta’s iGaming workforce is incredibly international and diverse, and the island has attracted people from all corners of the world, demand for top talent, particularly tech and product, outstrips supply. While this has created an upward pressure on wages, the skilled labour shortage doesn’t seem to be hurting the continued inflow of new entrants to the sector, at least not yet. To keep the talent rolling in, and the innovation levels up, iGaming companies have long turned to foreign labour markets to fill gaps in the local workforce. Today, two-thirds of those employed in the sector are foreign expats. Efforts to attract the best and the brightest
include a 15% tax cap on the salaries of highly qualified foreign professionals in the gaming sector, as well as a fast-track service for work permits of highly specialised third-country nationals. However, given the time it can take to recruit the right candidates who are willing to relocate, many companies are rethinking their approach to talent acquisition. Many of the larger companies are reverting to opening offices in other locations where tech talent is more widely available. To avoid outward investment flows and produce more home-grown talent, Malta is putting in place upskilling initiatives. A new gaming academy, the European Gaming Institute of Malta (EGIM), has been launched as a joint venture between the Malta Gaming Authority and the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) to fill some of the gaps.
Switzerland in the Mediterranean
Ultimately, the aim is to make Malta a centre of excellence for iGaming-related companies, where executive decisions are made that drive global gaming businesses and where start-ups and innovative ideas are nurtured. However, the sector’s fast expansion, in tandem with many other sectors that are experiencing similar growth rates, and an influx of companies and expat workers are also putting pressure on Malta’s infrastructure and the cost of living. The high demand has driven up rents for both offices and apartments, and many say Malta needs to be careful not to outprice itself. To enable the iGaming sector to attract
“The regulatory overhaul saw games which were previously provided by entities not licensed by EU/EEA authorities, but which were nonetheless offered on websites authorised by the MGA, being phased out. Licensees that operated shared wallet setups or similar platform arrangements with non-EU/EEA licensed games and gaming services providers also moved key operations to more reputable jurisdictions. These measures were introduced by the MGA in an effort to improve the quality of gambling services offered to consumers while also delivering a more competitive framework in comparison to well-established and upcoming gaming jurisdictions.” Kris Baron Partner at ARQ
the best talent to the island, Malta urgently needs to address certain capacity constraints in terms of schooling and kindergarten facilities, which reduce the island’s competitiveness. The island’s transport network has also failed to keep pace with the exceptional growth the economy is enjoying. Quality of infrastructure is a decisive factor when businesses plan investments, and Malta’s future prosperity is linked to the way infrastructure will be deployed. A thorough infrastructural overhaul will place Malta in a better position to compete and challenge other countries for the highest value investment. For Malta to become the ‘Switzerland of the Mediterranean’, many foreign executives emphasise that a stronger focus on green areas and recreational opportunities is required, which would add to Malta’s emerging status as a magnet for talented professionals who are seeking dynamic careers outside of the world’s largest business hubs.
The negative outlook of the international banking sector on gaming continues to present one of the biggest challenges to gaming companies in Malta. There are only a handful of banks servicing the sector. Paradoxically, while the industry is experiencing difficulties with basic banking services, iGaming companies are coming into view of the global investment banks due to the sector’s increased funding needs to support their M&A activity. Many companies have grown significantly in size and scope, and are today listed on major stock exchanges
around the world. This has resulted in a desire to show a high level of corporate governance. Stricter anti-money-laundering laws and new data protection regulations are also being viewed as important steps towards improving the sector’s relationship with the banking sector and its overall reputation.
Leading the Pack
Malta is Europe’s undisputed centre for iGaming companies. It is home to CEOs and start-up founders, investors, support professionals and entrepreneurial talent. The island saw strong growth on the back of its regulatory framework that has lured the sector’s strongest companies to the island. However, the future will be written by the level of regulatory, financial and technology innovation that the country can bring to the table. The island’s success will also be built on its ability to constantly attract new entrepreneurs; Malta needs to accommodate global players while acting as a magnet for startups. To ensure that Malta fits into the business plans of the world’s largest companies, the country is working hard to have all the right elements in place. Malta has the opportunity to be a truly global centre for the iGaming industry, similar to what New York, Hong Kong and London are to the finance industry. The gaming industry in global terms is still in its infancy and expected to expand significantly in the coming years. Malta now pushes itself towards a more innovation-driven economy, and there is increasing awareness that raising productivity and increasing efficiency are critical if growth is to be sustained. n
Maltaâ€™s International Busin
everything & everyone you need to do
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business in Malta
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Silvio Schembri, Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy & Innovation
Home of Innovation From gaming to blockchain and artificial intelligence, Junior Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister, Silvio Schembri wants to make Malta a powerhouse of innovation.
How would you describe the recent performance of Malta’s iGaming industry?
Our iGaming sector has performed exceptionally well. Malta has seen licensed operators reach record numbers, and we can proudly say that now most of the sector’s major companies have operations on the island. Malta today offers the complete gaming ecosystem. We have the resources, the people and the culture to give iGaming professionals and entrepreneurs the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals. In 2018, we launched our new Gaming Act, which further cemented our position as the world’s iGaming capital. It has eliminated unnecessary bureaucracy, simplified the licensing process, and more importantly, speeded up time-to-market for operators. It has also paved the way for the further enhancement of bestin-class player protection standards and responsible gaming measures.
Malta is getting serious about esports. Can you tell us more about your strategy?
Esports has steadily grown in popularity over the years, giving rise to a booming industry. We are currently working on a strategy to form a cluster of esports companies and attract largescale esports events to the island. We want to attract not just competitive games, but also videogame designers and become a destination for digital media companies.
Malta is being coined the “Blockchain Island”, what can you tell us about this development?
What’s next on your agenda?
regulatory framework for AI, and in the coming months, a national strategy will be launched for this sector to explore the opportunities it holds, attract new investment and incorporate it into our ecosystem. We have set-up a task force made up of entrepreneurs, academics and experts in the field, who will devise a holistic approach towards the industry. We know that AI is already playing an important role in the gaming industry. Our main focus will be on how to position AI to drive our economy, and intersecting it with other industries and technologies such as blockchain, telecoms and gaming.
What are your plans to further strengthen the infrastructure and ecosystem that Digital Malta requires?
Malta has long been sensitive towards connectivity and digitalization, which have transformed our country and brought about new opportunities, quality jobs and growth. 5G is now becoming a reality in Malta, and is the next step towards enhancing our digital infrastructure. Malta has to be at the forefront of this technology, which is an enabler for innovative applications, new business models and investment. We are not resting on our laurels and are partnering with international companies. We are also offering red carpet treatment to companies – both big and small – wanting to set up in Malta to grow our digital ecosystem. But we know that it is equally important to attract talent to the island. Our economy is nearing full employment, and we are aware that, at times, firms find it difficult to source the right talent. Attracting foreign talent will remain one of our key priorities, and we want to make sure that onboarding new professionals is as uncomplicated as possible.
“In terms of gaming, I believe that the initiatives we have taken, including our new gaming law, will help us maintain and strengthen our position as the number one gaming jurisdiction. ”
Our three DLT laws came into effect in November 2018, providing a holistic regulatory framework within the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. The newly established Malta Digital Innovation Authority (MDIA) will certify DLT platforms and smart contracts, while handling the voluntary registration of technology service providers. The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has been tasked with the supervision of ICOs, virtual financial assets and cryptocurrency exchanges. Both have started to receive licence applications from companies. We see more and more companies moving into Malta, joining those that have already set up on the island such as Binance, OKEx, DQR, Bittrex, Neufund and ChilliZ.
Now that the blockchain related laws are in effect, and our vision of making Malta “The Blockchain Island” is becoming a reality, we can start looking at other innovative areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), quantum technology and big data. We are working on developing a
How do you expect Malta to develop in the coming years?
Our aim is that the entire digital economy will flourish in Malta. In terms of gaming, I believe that the initiatives we have taken, including our new gaming law, will help us maintain and strengthen our position as the number one gaming jurisdiction. But we must continue challenge ourselves and keep innovating if we want to retain the top spot. We will continue building on the ecosystem, and this also includes cryptocurrencies and blockchain. The plan is that DLT will account for 10% of GDP by 2027. We want Malta to become a powerhouse of economic innovation. The AI sector is expected to underpin US$15.7 trillion of global economic growth by 2030. The opportunity is too big to be missed. This is why Artificial Intelligence and a best in class regulatory framework are high on our agenda. Establishing a regulatory framework for AI is expected to impact every economic sector in Malta, transforming current job roles, as well as creating many new ones. n
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Gambling can be addictive, play responsibly. Videoslots.com is operated by Videoslots Ltd, a company registered in Malta having registration number C 49090. Videoslots Ltd is regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority under licence number MGA/B2C/258/2014 and the Gambling Commission in United Kingdom under UKGC Licence number 000-039380-R-319311-015. The facilities provided to UK players is solely made in reliance on the latter licence.
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Ivan Filletti, Head of Operations and Business Development, GamingMalta Foundation
â€œYou come, you settle, y Some of the worldâ€™s biggest and smallest iGaming operators have set up shop in Malta, making the island as important to online gambling as London or New York are to finance. It comes as no surprise that the islandâ€™s success as iGaming hub is having the knock-on effect of enticing related industries into establishing a presence of their own, says Ivan Filletti of the GamingMalta Foundation.
Malta is increasingly one of the most advanced and respected online gaming jurisdictions in the world, as well as having the most licensed operators. We want to keep it that way and continue to narrate this success story. Our mission is to engage with all the key stakeholders and ensure we connect with the different parts of the ecosystem to promote, strengthen and accelerate the growth across all gaming sectors.
Joining and connecting the dots within the ecosystem is a vital component of our game. Our networking events and international roadshows serve as a platform for this. These also help to attract investors to the iGaming industry. We also support and promote start-up events so that entrepreneurs are giving an opportunity to present their business models. Business gets done here. Malta is the place where ingenuity and determination pay off. You come, you settle, you succeed.
Our strong economy, EU member state credentials and resources, people and culture, as well as a strong presence of B2B and B2C companies and an affiliate cluster, give any operator an immediate plug into the gaming sector. To this, add the lifestyle on this sunny Mediterranean island, which is so special.
About Gaming Malta GamingMalta is an independent non-profit foundation set up by the Government of Malta and the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). Tasked with promoting Malta as a centre of excellence in the digital and remote gaming sector globally, it is responsible for liaising with local authorities to improve Malta’s attractiveness as a jurisdiction and enhance the ecosystem surrounding the gaming industry.
GamingMalta is committed to:
u Promoting ownership of the Malta brand among all stakeholders to strengthen Malta’s position with the gaming industry; u Engaging with stakeholders and providing business support to ensure that Malta is the most attractive environment for the gaming industry to thrive; u Standing out through innovative ideas and leading the iGaming industry through research and promotion of the Maltese jurisdiction so as to be a proactive, dynamic catalyst for change; u Accelerating growth in the gaming sector by creating a dynamic marketing mechanism anticipating market changes; u Bringing stakeholders together and ensuring close cooperation while creating business and networking opportunities for firms working in the sector; u Establishing the necessary expertise and foresight to future-proof the gaming sector in Malta; Remote gaming is only a part of this marvellous world of gaming. So we are working on three other verticals – Daily Fantasy Sports, esports and Video Gaming. This all boils down to a talent game. We want to work closely with the sector in order to attract key talent to Malta.
u Supporting the MGA in implementing the brand strategy and road map development for the gaming industry; u Collaborating with other Maltese sectorial promotion bodies to promote the overall image of Malta.
We already have successful video gaming companies here, and we want to ensure that structures are built to give further and sustainable impetus to this sector.
Contact: GamingMalta FoundationBuilding SCM 02-03, Level 3, SmartCity, Ricasoli SCM100, Malta T: (+356) 2247 3000 • E: email@example.com W: www.gamingmalta.org
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Growing Creatively Home to IT, gaming and film industries, Malta is now setting out to win the favour of games development and digital media companies.
ome of Gaming Excellence, Malta is unleashing its potential as a global creative hub for interactive entertainment. The island is inviting content producers and digital publishers to join its other thriving tech and entertainment industries. Malta has already built the largest iGaming centre in Europe, attracted a host of IT and software development companies, and is a popular location for the international film industry. The island now wants to offer an alternative to global entertainment hubs such as London, Berlin, Paris and Montreal. In its effort to become a pillar of the digital world, Malta is creating a stimulating environment for producers, animators, game developers, 3D artists, VFX professionals, digital painters and illustrators.
world or augmented reality, Malta presents itself as a viable hub for VR and AR game studios. The sheer number of digital companies operating on the island creates opportunities for game studios and start-up developers to test and scale their products.
Global Production Hub
The industry has built an impressive base of companies operating from the island. The country’s strong foundation in IT, iGaming and film provides a sound technical infrastructure for digital media production, which is being further enhanced by a dedicated iGaming academy called the European Gaming Institute of Malta (EGIM). A pioneer in the iGaming sector, Malta has acquired a wealth of knowledge and experience in areas such as digital content production, software development and game publishing. Esports is one of the green shoots that is gaining traction and could well become a significant pillar of Malta’s gaming ecosystem. The country’s creative track record in the film industry also speaks volumes, with major blockbusters, such as Assassin’s Creed, Captain Phillips, World War Z, Munich, Troy, and Gladiator, being shot on the island.
The driving force behind Malta’s creative industries is skills transfer. Companies operating out of Malta could benefit from expertise gained in the iGaming sector, such as player-behaviour analytics, data mining, personalisation and customer experience, as well as the monetisation of games and other digital content. The talent and the companies behind the growing dominance of mobile gaming applications have also found Malta a fertile ground to conceive, develop and market their products. A host of tech firms, coders and programmers are already on the ground servicing the increasing needs of the gaming operators. Malta also offers a significant opportunity for innovators with the next disruptive tech in areas such as fintech and blockchain. Most of the major players in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space are relocating to Malta on the back of the island’s new regulatory initiatives. This development is being warmly welcomed in particular by game publishers to deliver solutions for licence verification, game token monetisation and the management of what can be millions of assets within the game. Added to this are the global tech labs that have Malta on their radar, as regulators place greater demands on safe and secure IT solutions to protect consumers.
Video Gaming Cluster
The video gaming industry is the newest member of Malta’s growing creative industries. There are some high-profile game studios operating in Malta ranging from AAA to Indie game developers. 4A Games and Exient are two of the most well-known companies, producing major games for desktop and mobile, as well as Xbox and Playstation. Investment in this sector is expected to rise in the coming years: the gaming industry, as well as Malta’s growing international film industry, are fuelling demand for production houses, including motion capture studios, sound stages and animation facilities. As the global entertainment industry pushes ever more into a virtual
The positive reception by industry leaders at this year’s Gamescom has further strengthened Malta’s reputation in the sector. Testament to Malta’s creative potential has been the relocation of Trojan Horse was a Unicorn (THU), a week-long gathering of digital artists. THU, which previously took place in Portugal, brought more than 1,000 creatives and creators from all corners of the world to the island, including executives from the world’s leading entertainment companies Disney, Netfix and Ubisoft. THU is set to become a vital showcase of Malta’s digital creative ecosystem, which is expected to grow and gain further global recognition in the years ahead. n
MEMBER OF HBM GROUP
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Heathcliff Farrugia, CEO of the Malta Gaming Authority
Heathcliff Farrugia, the new CEO of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), shares his thoughts on Malta’s brand-new Gaming Act, the MGA’s test environment for blockchain and cryptocurrencies, as well as the need for greater international cooperation on crime prevention and gambling addiction. As the new CEO of the MGA, what are your priorities for the coming years?
2018 was a milestone year for the MGA, with the introduction of the new Gaming Act in August. From a supervisory perspective, our priority is now to ensure that licensees implement their new obligations and comply with the new requirements, especially those relating to Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) activities. I think it is becoming increasingly important to make sure that regulators are properly equipped to conduct their work and are able to enforce regulations. The new Gaming Act has increased our regulatory powers, placing a stronger emphasis on the compliance and enforcement function, while allowing us to further raise the bar in player protection. Over the past five years the MGA has done a lot of great work, and I definitely want to keep building on our past achievements. While we are one of the largest iGaming jurisdictions in the world, we don’t consider the size of the sector as a measure of success. We look at our effectiveness in ensuring that players are protected and that the sector is kept free from crime. At the same time, we are focused on the future, and we want to ensure that innovation does not dry up – both from a regulatory perspective but also within the industry itself. Technology advancements related to blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies have promising potential, and it is certainly one of our priorities to position the MGA on the forefront of regulatory innovation in this space.
How would you describe the transition to the new Gaming Act?
It was quite a smooth transition, especially with regard to the streamlining of the licensing structure from a multi-licence system to a two-licence system: a business-to-business licence and a business-to-consumer licence. These two licences now cover different types of activities across multiple distribution
channels. Previously, we managed over 600 licences; we now have close to 300 licences with the same number of operators. Some operators returned up to 18 licences and received one or a maximum of two in return. At the same time, the decision to move towards a risk-based approach to regulation has helped us become more efficient and effective in our supervisory function. We are now rating operators in different risk categories, which are subject to different levels of compliance checks. This allows us to allocate resources where they are needed and respond better to problems as they arise. We believe that a one-sizefits-all approach to regulating the industry doesn’t make sense any longer. The sector has evolved quite a bit since Malta’s first gaming law was introduced in the early 2000s. The overhaul was much needed. Overall, I would say we had very few teething problems because the transition was very well planned. However, while 1st August 2018 was the day the Gaming Act came into force, it doesn’t mean that the work stopped there. Operators still require support and technical guidance, and we are currently working to make sure there is more clarity about the new rules and regulations.
What other changes did the new framework bring about for operators?
Beyond the changes in the licensing structure, a key change was the phasing out of the key official role. Licensees are now required to identify the persons responsible for the key functions within their companies. Such persons are, in turn, required to undergo the MGA’s scrutiny in order for us to assess their fitness and propriety. We are now looking at a number of individuals such as the CEO, CFO, CTO, CMO, legal and compliance officer, and of course, the Money Laundering Reporting Officer. Other important changes relate to new obligations that have arisen under the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive given that in 2018 iGaming companies became subject persons.
“While we are one of the largest iGaming jurisdictions in the world, we don’t consider the size of the sector as a measure of success.”
How are you ensuring companies adhere to their AML obligations?
We set up a new Anti-Money Laundering Unit, which is conducting on-site and offsite inspections and reports any findings to the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU). Our officers have received extensive training by local and international experts in Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) activities in order to make sure that they have the necessary capability, skill and capacity to conduct effective assessments. Through inspections, which are conducted together with FIAU, our job is to ensure that operators have all the necessary policies and procedures in place to comply with the AML regulations, including proper due diligence checks and reporting of suspicious transactions. Final inspection reports are then sent to the FIAU, and they will take further action where needed.
Based on your past inspections, how are iGaming companies performing in terms of AML checks?
Most operators take this very seriously and are doing all the required checks. However, there were some operators who weren’t prepared enough; at least not to the levels expected by the MGA. The Fourth AML Directive and the implementing procedures outline exactly what is required from subject persons, hence we expect full and proper compliance.
Heathcliff Farrugia was appointed CEO of the Malta Gaming Authority in April 2018. He holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Leicester, UK, and is specialised in business management, operational efficiencies, strategic planning, and regulation. Throughout his professional career, he held various senior executive positions both within the private and the public sector. In 2014, he joined the Gaming Authority in the role of Chief Operations Officer (COO) and was appointed Chief Regulatory Officer in 2016. Prior to joining the MGA, he spent the largest part of his career in the telecoms industry, specifically with Vodafone Malta, where he occupied various managerial positions.
Several iGaming companies were accused of suspected links to the Italian mafia, and the MGA has been criticised for not cooperating with the Italian authorities. What’s your opinion about such criticism?
The prevention of criminal infiltration is one of our top priorities. However, I’d like to point out that the MGA does not normally receive cooperation requests from Italian authorities other than its counterpart gambling regulator in Italy. Requests from law enforcement or financial intelligence units are sent to the corresponding authorities in Malta. Naturally, we provide any relevant information to the Maltese authorities. I can say that our due diligence checks are of a very high standard, and in fact, a
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number of applicants are refused a licence on the basis of failure to meet fitness and propriety standards. Others are detected as part of ongoing checks, and we take immediate action if something comes up. Our international cooperation efforts are ongoing, and in fact we are currently in the process of establishing a stronger relationship with Italy’s Guardia di Finanza, with the help of Malta’s police, which will see us working even closer with Italian agencies. We are not excluding exploring similar agreements with other law enforcement agencies in future.
Responsible gaming is another area of concern. How are you planning to improve player protection?
“Overall, our mission is to be at the forefront of gaming regulation while embracing innovation, but we have to ensure a safe operating environment and assess risks and implications properly.”
We are working on a new self-exclusion system for players, which would give players the possibility to block themselves from all Maltalicensed iGaming operators. Today, iGaming operators licensed by the MGA are already obliged to offer self-exclusion tools to their players; however, there is no unified system in place, and an excluded player can seek the services of different operators, while being excluded from some others. We are aware that this is a gap in the protection offered within our regulated environment, and we are committed to working towards a system which will give the possibility to players to self-exclude across all licensed gaming channels, be it land-based or remote. It is an ambitious and complex project, and we have already seen some interesting technology solutions that could support such a project. We are also open to collaboration with other countries, and ideally, we will come to a stage where we have a unified selfexclusion system for all of Europe.
You had a number of other big projects planned to make the way you regulate more efficient, including automated reporting. What’s the status of these projects?
In January 2019, we will start rolling out our enhanced automated reporting platform for land-based operators. In 2020, we plan to introduce this for the iGaming sector too. Another important project we worked on is the sandbox for cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies, which was published in October 2018. As of 1 January 2019, we will start accepting applications for the use of cryptocurrencies as a method of payment by our licensed operators and also allow the use of DLT as a technology.
Can you tell us more about the sandbox for DLT and cryptocurrencies? Do you see big demand from the iGaming industry?
Yes, there is strong interest. When we started working on this project, we issued two public consultations and were impressed by the large number of operators who wanted to help us. We
received feedback from more than 70 operators. A number of operators were keen to explore the acceptance of cryptocurrencies as a method of payment, while others were assessing the use of DLT as a technology, perhaps by partnering up with existent blockchain providers. Overall, our mission is to be at the forefront of gaming regulation while embracing innovation, but we have to ensure a safe operating environment and assess risks and implications properly. Hence, we decided to implement a sandbox framework, which would involve introducing cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies within a controlled environment. We made it very clear that proper KYC checks are required in the sandbox. We cannot accept anonymity. We will be working hand in hand with the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA), who will regulate virtual financial assets and exchanges, as well as the Malta Digital and Innovation Authority (MDIA) that will be approving technology service providers. We envisage that this framework will run until end of October 2019, although it could be extended.
The industry highlights HR and banking as the biggest challenges of operating in Malta. Is there anything the MGA can do to help the industry resolve these issues?
In terms of human resources, I think demand will keep exceeding supply. We have kicked off a number of educational initiatives and partnerships to nurture more local talent, but the solution for the time being is importing talent and attracting foreign professionals to work in Malta. The situation with banking is a bit more complex as the banking issues are not exclusive to Malta. Gaming companies using an MGA licence are allowed to use both licensed credit institutions, as well as licensed financial institutions.
Looking to the future, where do you want Malta’s iGaming industry to be positioned?
We want to continue to be seen as a well-regulated jurisdiction that does not stop innovating. The iGaming industry is being influenced by blockchain technologies, which could turn out to be the industry’s next big thing. Hence, I think Malta’s drive to position the country as the ‘blockchain island’ will pay off in the near future. I also believe that in the coming years video gaming, eSports and traditional iGaming will keep converging more than ever before. New generations of players are interested in new forms of games, which might require new forms of regulations. I am confident that Malta will remain a forward-thinking gaming jurisdiction that responds to new realities. We will periodically review the regulatory performance of the sector and our new Gaming Act, and if needs be, we will make adjustments to ensure that consumers and the integrity of the industry are protected. n
Jesper Svensson, CEO of Betsson Group
Back to Growth Mode
Product innovation and a right-sizing exercise put Betsson back on track, says CEO Jesper Svensson. What issues are currently high on your agenda?
“We are excited about this development, as we believe that an open, competitive and controlled gaming market is positive for customers, operators and shareholders.”
We are currently working on what we call the ‘back on track’ plan, an initiative we launched a year ago to make the company perform better. In the last few years, Betsson’s organic growth was lower than anticipated. We had acquired several companies, which resulted in quite a few duplicate positions. At the same time our organic growth slowed down, and we weren’t fast enough in bringing out new products. So we decided that we needed to take a step back and restructure our operations. Part of this plan was to stop acquiring companies and focus on the core platforms by making them stronger from a product point of view. We also started to implement a number of improvements on the marketing side. As part of our rightsizing exercise, we had to make a number of people redundant. While this was painful, it was unfortunately inevitable. Betsson is now in a much better position than it was a year ago. Beyond our restructuring exercise, as a Swedish company the new regulatory regime in Sweden is very high on our agenda. We are excited about this development, as we believe that an open, competitive and controlled gaming market is positive for customers, operators and shareholders.
How would you describe your strategy and business model now?
We aim to deliver the best customer experience in the industry. That’s our vision. Strategically we focus on three core areas to deliver on our vision. Those areas are Talented People, Quality Products and Operational Excellence. From a brand perspective we are leveraging a multiple brand model, which means we can focus on a larger number of client segments and localise our offering. While Betsson is the leading brand of the group, our smaller local brands are delivering good results by having a greater consumer attachment. Localisation, and local regulations, is very
much the name of the game these days. Today, we have regional and country teams, which means we are very efficient in our marketing. We are a data-driven company, and we track our return on investment for different brands and markets. I would say that this hybrid business model brings a lot of new opportunities. Our research shows that the average customer plays on 2.5 gaming brands, so with several brands there are higher chances to attract customers. The mix of a strong flagship brand and smaller localised products offers a strong mix for us.
Consolidation has been a major industry trend. How do you expect this trend to develop in the coming years, and are you planning to get back into the M&A game?
For the time being, Betsson has been putting acquiring more companies on hold, but I think consolidation will remain a major trend. Various operators are successfully launching more brands, so I don’t think we will see fewer brands. However, in markets where regulations are coming into force, it will become very expensive to build a brand. In those cases, we might see a reduction in the number of competing brands, which will likely lead to further consolidation. Sweden is a very good example of this development. Today there are hundreds of companies targeting Swedish players, but not all of them have applied for a licence with the Swedish regulator.
The Swedish Gambling Commission will not allow operators to give bonuses to players, other than on the first sign-up. What effect do you believe this will have on the market? Will bonuses disappear?
I don’t think they will; they will remain an important tool. However, in markets that limit the use of bonuses, operators need to make sure that their products stand out, which is a healthy development. I think we will see a lot more creativity from a product point of view in the future.
YOUR IT SIMPLIFIED
Are you looking at bringing new products to the market?
We control a large part of our technology ourselves, and we are constantly updating it and adding new features to enhance the customer experience. 2018 was also a great year for our sportsbook, which has seen significant growth on the back of the World Cup.
What’s your opinion on the growth of esports?
I think esports offer a great opportunity for the future. However, compared with traditional sports betting, it is still a relatively small, but fast growing market. I think it will be a very nice add-on for the industry, and I also think that the interest in mainstream sports will remain.
The MGA is launching a sandbox for Distributed Ledger Technologies. Are you looking at adopting blockchain technologies and virtual currencies?
We are operating under licences in Malta and ten other jurisdictions, with a new licence from Sweden to be added in 2019. While we are interested in it, and are looking at what the MGA is doing, unless the other regulators are open to DLT and virtual currencies, we can’t adopt them and use them across all markets.
Compliance – from player protection to marketing and AML – has become more important these days. How do you believe the industry should react to these developments?
International operators are complying with very diverse requirements, which adds to the operational complexities and costs they have to manage. We should obviously follow the regulations, but they should also be reasonable. We need to protect consumers, but we also need to protect the business. I don’t see these two as opposites, it is possible to combine them and grow the business in a sustainable way. We take responsible gaming very seriously and offer players a wide selection of responsible gaming tools. We were the first company to recruit a responsible gaming manager 10 years ago. As an industry, we have not always been good at communicating what we do, but we see these increased compliance requirements, including GDPR and AML obligations, as an opportunity to improve the industry’s perception.
Malta is your main base; does it still remain attractive for you?
Malta is a great business location with a strong pro-business environment. We set up in Malta in 2004, and we intend to stay. However, the talent pool in Malta is quite limited in some areas. While it’s not currently much of an issue to find staff on the marketing or operations side, tech-related roles such as engineers and developers are much more difficult to fill. That’s why we have offices in more tech-friendly cities such as Stockholm, Budapest, Kiev and Tallinn. In addition, the reality is that Malta really needs to keep pace with its own economic growth. If not, we will have more overcrowded schools, congested roads and high housing costs. I believe this is the time for Malta to invest in these areas if it wants to attract the right talent and facilitate future growth.
Jesper Svensson has been in the gaming industry since the mid-2000s. Over the years, he worked in senior positions in several gaming companies in Europe and Asia. He joined Betsson in 2013 as the managing director of its flagship brand, betsson.com. In 2015, he became Betsson’s Chief Commercial Officer and was then made acting CEO in September 2017. Just three months later, he was appointed CEO for Betsson Operations. Jesper holds a Master in International Business from EAE Business School (Barcelona) and a Bachelor in Marketing from BI Norwegian Business School (Oslo). Jesper is passionate about sports and gaming.
Where do you see the industry in five years time?
I think we are going to continue to see a lot more consolidation in the future, but the success of operators will depend largely on their ability to offer high quality, innovative products. I am also expecting some disruption; after all, this is a digital industry and things can spread quickly when someone comes up with something new. For instance, last year we saw ‘no account’ casinos pop up everywhere, which allow customers to play instantly by linking payments and signups to a BankID. It goes to show that an improvement to your product can have a strong impact. I also believe that the industry will experience more regulation; so obviously, it will be challenging to continue to invest in new product development while absorbing additional tax and compliance costs. However, those who continue to innovate will have a better chance of success. We, at Betsson, are working hard to improve operations, efficiency and products. So we are entering this new phase with confidence. n
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Charles Gillespie, CEO of Gambling.com Group Plc
A Golden Opportunity
Charles Gillespie, CEO of Gambling.com Group Plc, talks about changes in the affiliate space and how he has made his mark in the industry. Gambling.com Group Plc is one of Europe’s fastest-growing performance marketing companies. How did you get started in the affiliate marketing industry and why?
I started in the industry while still at the University of North Carolina in 2003. I could see the online gaming industry was booming but didn’t have the money to start a fully licensed online gaming operation, so I took the low-cost path and became an affiliate. I taught myself how to program and personally built my first casino affiliate website. I formalised the business in late 2006 with an initial strategy focused on East Asia. We shifted focus to the regulated European markets in 2010. Then in April of 2011, we managed to secure the domain name Gambling.com and have grown the business steadily from there.
Have you achieved any milestones recently, and what are the main brands and markets that you are active in?
Gambling.com Group Plc passed another milestone this year by winning EGR’s Affiliate of the Year award, which I think is very well deserved given how far we have come in the past two years. The Group currently operates around 40 websites, mostly in the UK with its second largest market in Sweden, closely followed by rapid expansion in the USA. Our premier brand is Gambling.com but we have other websites with top-tier branding such as Bookies.com, which will be relaunched shortly with a US first focus. We have a number of other premium domain names in the stable, many of which we acquired earlier this year. We will be putting them all to good use in time. The group is headquartered in Malta but most of its 100 employees are in Dublin. We also have an office in Tampa, Florida since 2011.
Are there any trends or difficulties that are currently affecting the affiliate industry?
It is much harder to launch an affiliate business today than say 10 years ago. To get into the game, you now need a lot of resources to fund product, technology, media, and to hire skilled, well trained people. It takes a lot more resources than it used to in the early days of the industry when the affiliate product offerings
and regulations weren’t as sophisticated as they are today. Just keeping up with compliance can be a full-time job for smaller affiliates.
Regulators now hold operators responsible for the actions of their affiliates. How have you reacted to the changing regulations?
The changing regulations really affect two kinds of affiliates: the small ones and the dodgy ones. The large affiliates on the other hand, generally speaking, have grown to be large because they don’t do anything that would be perceived as a compliance risk. They also have the resources to continually update their websites and marketing campaigns as requests from their clients come in. It’s the small fly by night rogue affiliates that skirt regulations who expose the affiliate industry to negative publicity.
How has the recent wave of mergers and acquisitions in the sector impacted the affiliate landscape and what role do you seek to play in this scenario?
We have seen a lot of consolidation of affiliates, and now there are four or five affiliate companies that control a meaningful portion of the regulated EU and US market. If you are one of the four or five companies, then this is not necessarily a bad thing, and you can participate in the consolidation. However, if you are a smaller affiliate, it is only going to become more and more difficult to compete with the big boys in terms of product, compliance management, HR and technology. Gambling.com Group Plc is constantly evaluating a regular stream of acquisitions. We have not been the most acquisitive of our peers, but we have done four deals since the start of 2017. It has been a positive experience for us and has enabled us to better leverage our core technology across more and more websites. For our more acquisitive peers, there are some open questions about how they will maintain the pace of acquisitions they have established over the past several years. They face new challenges in terms of financing and finding acquisitions that are large enough to actually move the needle in terms of their current scale. We are happy to have less pressure on ourselves to acquire, meaning we can be more discerning and tactical in our moves.
How do you see the affiliate revenue model evolving? To be fair, it doesn’t change regularly and has been more or less the same for 10-15 years, and I don’t expect to see any meaningful change moving forward, at least in terms of the European markets. The regulated US market is a brave new world, and affiliates applying for licenses is certainly a new evolution in the model. In terms of commercials, we see more and more operators and affiliates gravitating toward hybrid deals as it offers value for both parties. It gives the operators more levers to pull on to entice affiliates to promote their brands, and the affiliates I think increasingly appreciate the positive cash flow aspects of getting some guaranteed cash through the door per new depositing player (NDP).
“We have a fast-growing technology business in Europe that is growing organically by healthy double-digit figures, before we even think about the US.”
What will be the next big thing in affiliate marketing?
In terms of the future, changes in the gaming industry in the US are the next big thing. On May 14, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Following the revocation of PASPA by the Supreme Court, there are no federal barriers to legal sports betting in the United States. Attention has now turned to the individual states as it is now their decision to regulate sports betting within their own states’ borders. New Jersey has a major headstart as they were the ones that brought the case to the Supreme Court in the first place. They immediately pressed forward with getting their local operators up and running with sports betting and are poised to overtake Nevada in terms of total sports betting in months, not years. The key difference about the US market is that affiliates require licences. Regulators are much tougher, and affiliates’ relationship with the operators are far more structured in the US than in Europe where you don’t need a licence to be an affiliate, except in places like Romania. It is our view that the repeal of PASPA is the greatest opportunity in the history of the regulated online gambling industry, emphasis on regulated.
Do you plan to expand anywhere else in the world?
For now we have no plans to invest anywhere other than the US and Europe, where we see more than enough opportunity for us. We have a fast-growing technology business in Europe that is growing organically by healthy double-digit figures, before we even think about the US. That said, the US situation has really captured our attention, and we expect to see the US business eventually overtake the European one. n
Charles Gillespie is the founder and CEO of Gambling. com Group Plc. He started out as a software engineer and developed the Group’s first websites himself. Charles graduated from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He lives in Monaco since 2011.
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Mark Blandford, Partner at Burlywood Capital
All Eyes on New York
Mark Blandford was one of the first offline bookmakers to recognise the potential for sportsbetting on the internet. He has seen the rise of London as the industry’s power base and witnessed the success of Malta in attracting iGaming companies, but he believes that the sector’s next epicentre will be New York. Can you tell us how you got involved in the gaming industry?
I am a farmer’s son, but both my parents were interested in horseracing and they knew some of the leading trainers and jockeys of the day. I naturally inherited their interest and loved studying the odds. When I finished school, I studied business with a focus on marketing. Then I had a couple of jobs in B2B marketing but I found these jobs very frustrating as I realised that it will take me a long time to progress. I was always very entrepreneurial in nature, and at the age of 27 when my wife began talking about starting a family, I realised that if I want to start my own business it was now or never. The industries I had worked in were difficult to start up in, and the only other industry I knew something about was bookmaking. At the time, I had a friend who owned a betting shop and was kind enough to train me how to be a bookmaker. I then bought my first betting shop, and in the years that followed I built a small chain of betting shops. In the 1990s, one of my neighbours introduced me to the internet. I looked up sportsbetting and bookmakers – not much came up, and I suddenly realised that the internet could provide an additional distribution channel for betting products.
Where did you go from there?
I was quite taken by the internet’s potential. It was the absolute beginning of this industry, and only a few bookmakers had an online presence. I sold the betting shop chain at the end of 1997. I went all in on online gambling and founded Sportingbet. In 1998 I got a licence from the Isle of Alderney, which gave us a competitive advantage. While UK-based companies were required by law to add a 9% tax to all bets, Alderney was betting-tax free. The first years were quite exciting but also challenging as there wasn’t any suitable sports betting software available compared to today. At the time, mentioning online gambling and credit card processing together was also a very easy way to get thrown out of a bank, but we battled through.
How would you describe the current sportsbetting landscape – online and offline?
When I sold my betting shops to set up Sportingbet, I was convinced that the future of sportsbetting was online because it allowed for greater operational efficiency. But I still thought that there was a market for betting shops. However, today I believe the outlook for offline is pretty poor, and betting shop owners have to accept that they are running a mature business. We are seeing significant changes in customer behaviour – today’s customers prefer to bet online. In addition, high street is under pressure with footfall, and you’ve got a regulatory regime that amplifies costs. We have gone from too light-handed regulation to heavy-handed regulation. I am absolutely in favour of protecting vulnerable players, but I think we have gone too far and this is not healthy for business. By the way, the same applies to the online world, and I do believe that the high regulatory costs could actually drive businesses offshore again.
The iGaming industry appears to be facing an increasingly restrictive and hostile regulatory environment in many countries. What are the reasons for this?
For a long time, the industry has not invested sufficiently in PR and lobbying. That’s why we now have a large number of politicians who would rather look the other way instead of standing up in favour of the gambling industry. It is ironic that this is occurring at a time when the industry is larger than ever.
Let’s talk about your third life in gambling. As a venture capital investor with Burlywood Capital, where do you see the industry right now?
As the online industry has matured, funding streams have grown in tandem. The industry is huge today. It is entrepreneurial in nature, which attracts angel and seed investors in greater
numbers. We are now also seeing private equity – not just venture capital – flowing into the industry. While some 20 years ago the businesses were just not big enough to attract private, equity, we now have huge profitable businesses that private equity is interested in. If you need €1 million these days, it is probably much easier to get it today than it was five or six years ago. At Burlywood Capital, we are seeing interest not only from European but also American investors.
What does the ideal candidate for venture capital look like these days?
There is no such thing as the ideal candidate anymore. An interesting candidate could be active in a particular segment. For instance, interest in eSports has exploded. But from time to time things become the flavour of the month. I remember a time when everyone wanted to become a Bingo operator, followed by a period where Poker was big. Then we moved on to social gaming. The reality is that we have seen a few gold rushes. The most recent one was the hype around blockchain, which is currently tailing off. To offer every vertical is the hardest for an early stage business. It is nearly impossible to compete with today’s gambling industry conglomerates. However, we see a lot of business plans, and I can say that there are still a lot of creative minds out there coming up with new ideas. To be successful in raising money, ones need to have a clear plan on how to use the capital, while projections have to be realistic.
We have seen a number of gaming ICOs in 2018. What’s your view on ICOs as a fundraising method and on blockchain technology in general?
There are surely a lot of overrated and hyped ICOs. I have seen many ICOs, where what was on offer and what was promised was disconnected from reality. In my opinion, the situation is comparable to the times of the dot.com bubble. The price of investment into that sector is running ahead of the returns. It doesn’t mean that the technology is not working; in fact, the underlying technology is great. We will undoubtedly see a number of blockchain applications that will be developed in the coming years. However, I am also sceptical about the costeffectiveness of crypto payments. In some cases the transaction fees that cryptocurrency exchanges charged were higher than those that would have incurred when using more traditional payment channels.
In your opinion, what is the most attractive place for iGaming companies wanting to do an equity listing?
The London Stock Exchange is strong and an attractive market for iGaming. Companies with international, and in particular Scandinavian exposure, should consider Stockholm. The valuations for companies at the Nasdaq Nordic Exchanges are
Mark Blandford was the owner of a betting shop chain from the early 1980s to the mid 1990s. When he recognised the potential of the internet, he founded Sportingbet PLC, at one time the world’s largest bookmaking operation and a pioneer in online gambling. After stepping down from the board of Sportingbet in 2007, Mark has become one of the most active and successful investors in the digital pay2play entertainment space. He also formed Burlywood Capital, a corporate finance advisory business focusing on gaming and support industries.
quite attractive and investors understand the industry. I also believe that the industry should look to the US. We are already seeing American investors wanting to put money into the sector. At Burlywood Capital, we have registered interest from US firms with investments in the physical casino industry and who now wish to invest in online betting. This trend is just emerging, and US investors will have to be educated about this industry, but I believe the potential is there.
What’s your outlook for the industry?
I believe that New York will be the next big hub for the industry. We have seen the growth of London and the success of Malta, but I truly think that New York will define the next five to ten years. n
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Kent Staahle, CEO of RiveriGaming
A Different Kind of Start-Up
Kent Staahle is heading one of the iGaming industry’s most ambitious start-ups: River iGaming is looking at big acquisitions and a complete new product offering.
Can you briefly introduce River iGaming and your business model?
It all started when our founders Ketil Skorstad’s and Kristian Lundkvist’s, who both head Norwegian investment companies, got in contact with Cherry’s Morten Klein. The idea was to build a Norwegian iGaming venture, and we sought a listing on the Stock Exchange in Oslo. We opened our operational headquarters in Malta, but we also have small offices in the UK and in Norway. Our vision is to become a strong market player though acquisitions and organic growth – not just in the Norwegian market but globally. River iGaming enjoys strong financial backing, which means we were able to build a structure that has the power and resources to invest and acquire fast-growing companies. During our first months of operation, we have already acquired a number of businesses in the iGaming and media industries. Our aim is to invest in all areas connected to the sector of iGaming, particularly technology and business intelligence.
Can you tell us more about your first acquisitions?
Our first acquisition was Vegas Casino. We have completely reinvented its format and managed to diversify the customer base beyond the Norwegian market. From there we proceeded to the acquisition of Mediafusion, a content production and affiliate marketing company built around Norwegian and Swedish customers. This company specialises in digital marketing, content and visual production. The third acquisition was Gaming Realms, a B2C company based in the UK. Gaming Realms gives us access to four new well-established brands, two of which are connected to TV shows: Britain’s Got Talent and X Factor, which also appeal to a new player demographic with the majority of players being female and under 35.
As a young company, how do you seek to differentiate yourself?
We want to find a new take on the market. These days, a generic one-size-fits-all approach is just not enough. Personalisation and customer engagement are the most important elements in attracting and retaining players today. That’s why we are developing the business intelligence side of the company. River iGaming has invested heavily in technology, which does the heavy lifting when it comes to remembering customers and their game preferences through big data and managing it in the best possible way. For us it is important to offer the customers something new and unique, make them feel at home in our casinos. Maybe even offer them something they want before they even know they want it. So now our Vegas Casino features personalised architecture including, for instance, content offers. Then there is the gamification element, which we want to focus on. Even in an online casino, players today seek an experience – it is not just enough to add some sound and nice pictures.
What criteria do you look for when choosing a company to invest in?
We are on the lookout for companies that complement our current portfolio. We are seeking companies that we can develop further; not companies that we need to clean up. The brand must be attractive, and it must boast innovative ideas that require money to come to fruition and grow. We would like to see the founders stay in the business and continue growing it with us. But we are not only targeting start-ups, we also have the ability and resources to handle bigger acquisitions.
How are investors looking at the gaming industry and at River iGaming?
Many people ask me why we are listed in Oslo and not in Stockholm or London. The reason for this is that we want to be a Norwegian company. It is true that Swedish investors are much more accustomed to the iGaming industry than investors from Norway, but there is increasing interest for iGaming companies in the Norwegian investor community. In Norway we still have much more explaining to do, while with Swedish investors we can already talk strategy. However, our investors are pretty much seated among Norway’s top 5% in terms of their net worth. We also feel that our connections into the Norwegian financial industry and institutions are one of our strong advantages. I also believe that it is attractive for investors to add iGaming to their portfolio. Although at the moment the margins and figures are going down, the long-term outlook is still good because developments such as consolidation and re-regulation offer significant growth opportunities for the larger players.
How do you believe regulations will evolve and what new markets are on your agenda?
Sweden will become a licensed gaming market in January 2018, and I believe that Norway will follow Sweden’s lead, it always does. So it’s likely that in three to five years Norway will move towards a licensing regime for gambling. Many companies are now rushing to enter the regulated US market, but we are in no hurry to follow the crowd. It is an attractive market, but there are still many regulated markets in Europe that are of interest to us, and we are also looking at other markets in Africa and South America.
Kent Staahle is the CEO of River iGaming. He has extensive experience in the finance industry and has previously worked at SpareBank1, Nets and ODIN Forvaltning. He holds an MSc in Marketing and Economics from BI Norwegian Business School.
“Our ambition is to become one of the top industry leaders in a couple of years.”
How do you see the gaming industry evolving in the next three to five years?
There will always be a place for proper casinos, but there is also an increasing demand for more gamified products. We need to give our customers the ultimate gaming experience, and in order to do that, we should focus on new technological solutions. I expect this to be a real driver in the future. That’s why we are now working on a new project that we are going to launch in 2019. It is a game-oriented casino with a completely new product offering.
River iGaming enjoyed an impressive growth in a short period of time. Where do you want to go from here?
For the foreseeable future, there will be many smaller companies that are coming up with new ideas and innovative products. Some of them might even be outside the regulatory fold. As a company, we are looking to invest in these companies and bring them onto the regulated side. We are not interested in short-term wins, and we want to develop long-term relationships. Our ambition is to become one of the top industry leaders in a couple of years. n
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
David Gonzi, Managing Partner of Gonzi & Associates
Beyond TickBox Compliance Regulatory compliance has become more than a tick-box exercise, says David Gonzi, Managing Partner of Gonzi & Associates, while, at the same time, the industry is entering a risk-averse period in its evolution as concerns over grey markets grow.
Can you give us an overview on the performance of Malta’s iGaming industry and the transition to the new gaming regime?
2018 was an interesting year because the new Gaming Act finally came into force, which is seen as a very positive development. The legal framework has been streamlined, and it has become a lot easier to apply for a new licence. The established operators like it because there was a lot of duplication before, so they see the new regime as an improvement because it simplifies the process. Instead of multiple licences, they now only require one or two. In terms of the sector performance, I can say that despite the fragmentation of the European market, there is still interest in Malta as a jurisdiction. Malta is being seen as the European iGaming hub, boasting some of the most knowledgeable and skilled people within the industry. This is attracting new business, and big companies as well as startups are relocating or setting up in Malta.
You have many years of experience in assisting iGaming companies set up in Malta. How would you describe the process today compared to a few years ago?
Substance is the name of the game today. Clients need to have proper structures and substance in Malta. Substance has to be proportionate to the economic resources and to the profits that the company is making, and clients need to have employees on the ground. Some years ago, all these details were not so important, and setting up an iGaming company has become a lot more expensive than it was in the past. It’s a market that is not easy to get into, and the nature of start-ups coming into the industry has also changed. Many of them are well funded, which is necessary considering that the financial barriers for entry are much higher today. The licence fees are now higher, coming in at
€25,000 to €30,000, and that is without any professional fees or set up costs of the company. Then there are other costs associated with getting the business off the ground and hiring all the required people. On the positive side, the licensing timeframe has been reduced, and we can say that within four to six months of establishing contact, clients usually have their licence in place.
How has the industry’s attitude towards, and understanding of, legal and compliance matters evolved?
“Embracing new technologies in payments is for sure the right thing to do, and I believe that the recent developments in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector will give Malta the edge over other jurisdictions.”
I think companies are aware that there needs to be a strong compliance function; not having one would have a negative impact on the brand. The regulatory and supervisory authorities want to see how iGaming companies onboard clients and how exactly they perform their checks. Most companies have implemented the required Anti-Money Laundering procedures and internal compliance audits. Based on our contact with the industry, we can see that the law is not only on paper; the requirements are now being translated into action. The culture
change in this respect is happening. While we see a strong commitment from the iGaming industry to bring its practices and procedures in line with the highest AML standards, I believe we can continue to improve Malta’s international reputation if all stakeholders – operators, service providers and government – put a strong emphasis on good governance.
From an operational point of view, what are the big challenges today?
Banking is one of the biggest challenges when setting up a company as very few banks are open to iGaming companies. We very often work with e-money institutions, which are becoming a real alternative to traditional banks. Market fragmentation is also an issue, and concerns over the many grey markets are growing. There is legal uncertainty in the industry, and risk management has become all the more important. Authorities around the world are now taking a harder stance against individuals of companies that are targeting these markets without appropriate authorisation. From our experience, iGaming companies as well as their executives are less willing to tolerate market risk than they were a few years ago.
How do you work with companies that are interested in getting a licence in another jurisdiction?
First and foremost, we are experts in Maltese law, but throughout the years we have gained a good understanding of other regulatory regimes too. In the UK for example, we are assisting clients through the entire licence application process. The UK Gambling Commission is also very approachable and answers our questions very quickly. In some other markets, we usually assist clients in collecting all the required documentation; if more specialist advice is required, we can also reach out to law firms in
David Gonzi is Managing Partner of Gonzi & Associates, Advocates. David has assisted various companies with obtaining Malta licences for the provision of investment services, financial institutions, online forex/binary options, e-money, payment services, funds, collective investment schemes and remote and land-based gaming. He has a Masters (MA) in Financial Services from the University of Malta, a Masters in IT and Telecoms Law (LLM) from the University College of London, a Doctorate of Law from the University of Malta and a Diploma in Taxation from the Malta Institute of Taxation.
our partner network. However, today the licence application is just a small part of our work. The legal and compliance landscape is constantly evolving; and we are keeping our clients up to date on all developments.
In your opinion, what does the future hold for Malta’s gaming industry and what should companies be concentrating on?
Embracing new technologies in payments is for sure the right thing to do, and I believe that the recent developments in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector will give Malta the edge over other jurisdictions. In terms of regulations, it is unfortunate that European countries cannot agree on a common regulatory framework, but I think it is important to place greater focus on the harmonisation of player protection measures and standards in Europe and beyond. n
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Trends &TOPICS We run through the stories that mattered the most in 2018 and explore what will likely shape the iGaming industry in 2019 and beyond.
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GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
From Paper into Practice While in 2018 the Chinese were welcoming the Year of the Dog, iGaming companies were welcoming the Year of Compliance.
ompliance today is a very broad church; just a few short years ago the gaming regulator was the only actor in town. Today, gaming companies are enjoying the attention of a whole host of government agencies, departments and regulatory authorities, all wanting to ensure that gaming companies are living up to their expectations when it comes to KYC, AML, GDPR, advertising standards, measures to prevent underage gambling, right down to consumer protection agencies scrutinising every line of the terms and conditions. Further adding to the complexity of compliance is the lack of harmonised rules in many of the countries that operators are working in, with each country wanting to add its own flavour to the rules and regulations that companies need to abide by. 2018 will go down as the year in which compliance rocketed up the agenda of every iGaming company, and the impact should not be underestimated. New compliance requirements have heavily impacted the bottom line of many companies and have significantly increased the headcount in compliance departments that have been tasked with moving compliance off paper and into practice.
The New Normal Regulators around the world are determined to drive crime out of gambling. The ind ustry had grown to suc h a size that it has become a target for criminal organisatio ns, which in some cases managed to infiltrate and gain con tro l of gaming companies an d use them as a money -la un der ing tool. Measures to com bat money laundering an d the financing of terrorism had predominantly bee n the domain of banks and financial service companies. Th is changed in January 2018 when EU regulators widened the net in terms of the number of sector s that need to impleme nt moneylaundering measures, one of them being the iGa ming industry. The industry was perhaps slower to rea lise the actual implications tha t this would have on the ir bu sin ess . While the investment ha s been significant in ter ms of time, money and resources to comply with the new regulations, doing nothing has also proven to be an expens ive option, with regulators doling out fines ranging from hu ndreds of thousands of euro to many millions. Enhance d KY C, due diligence and AML che cks are now the new no rm al. Both companies and regulator s need to pull on the sam e rop e to ensure that criminals can not use the industry for nef ari ou s purposes.
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GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
The New Kid on the Block
t data protection ly didn’t know tha Most people probab uction of GDPR. sted before the introd commissioners even exi spine of gaming sent shivers done the The new regulations bal turnover or vy fines (4% of annual glo executives due to the hea be imposed in case r is greater) that could €20 million, whicheve major impact on PR has certainly had a of non-compliance. GD uirements for all inging about stricter req the iGaming industry, br izens and imposing personal data of EU cit companies that process nicate with their way operators commu greater scrutiny on the ming was perhaps riven industry, the iGa customers. As a tech-d requirements. ers in managing the new further ahead than oth tial of wiping out w, GDPR had the poten From a risk point of vie ers now have to abases given that custom iGaming companies’ dat regulations have the positive side, the new give their consent. On by recognising more customer centric forced companies to be nt to be contacted ences of how they wa their customers’ prefer The implications ge they want to receive. and the types of messa the rewards can be very significant, but of getting this wrong can be equally valuable.
Sharing is Caring
Opt-out rather tha n Opt-in
Responsible gam ing is now the nu mber one item on everyone’s ag enda. With an es timated 10% of players being at risk of gambl in g harm and 1% actually deve loping a gambl in g addiction, player protectio n is now too big an issue to be ignored. All major gaming companies are rolling out new initiatives, testing new tools and promoting resp onsible gamblin g. Given that gaming compani es are operating in a data-rich environment, in which every actio n by a player can be tracked pr actically in real tim e, the industry has no excuse of not being able to detect problem gamblers. Initiat ives that are en su ring players have the same lev el of information av ailable that operators have on a player’s online ac tiv ity are to be welcomed. To really ensure mas s-a do ption of new responsible gambling tools, a competitive playing field ne eds to be establ ished, whereby player protection tools should beco me ‘opt-out’ rather than purely an ‘opt-in’ measu re.
ting the rtant issue that is impac ly the single most impo bab pro is bling n tio gam tec ble pro nsi po Player rd. While res to impact it going forwa e nu ng nti bei l co wil gly d sin an rea ry inc indust industry is all well and good, the are e es com tiv w tia no ini s s ha nes e aware ieving the tim concern with many bel lth s hea tor c ula bli pu reg a s, as tor d era viewe Gaming op abilities of the industry. cap d ch an ear g res din the fun d an for ” to exp rtnership model d to champion a “pa a responsible and policy-makers nee m gambling. Creating ble responsible and pro on ch ear ics, health res g dem cin aca du pro ists, researchers, fund to attract scient n tio ova ng studies inn cti du ng bli con gam earching and e else interested in res yon an d an jor step in ls na ma a sio be fes pro iction would preventing gambling add of ys wa about its ng s fyi iou nti ser ide is on t the industry would send a signal tha It . ion negative ect a dir ve ht ha t rig no the ustry that does ping a sustainable ind elo dev to ent tm mi com impact.
Compliance is a Journey, not a Destination
“Demand for post-licensing services has more than doubled as companies struggle to cope with increased compliance requirements. Some have handled their compliance obligations mostly in-house but most have resorted to external assistance to some degree or another. Pressures on compliance teams have increased, and expertise is not readily available for recruitment, and, as everyone knows, regulators and deadlines don’t wait. Hence outsourcing, in many circumstances, is the only feasible solution available.” Alan Alden Managing Director of Kyte Consultant
“Some 10 years ago many gambling executives and founders thought compliance meant getting a licence. However, the landscape has changed completely. Compliance is not a one-off activity. It is a journey more than an end; it is continuous. Compliance today has to feature in every aspect of business, which means compliance professionals need to understand the law as well as the business. They need to be able to translate the regulations into very practical processes and procedures that can be applied in the day-to-day running of an operation. We cannot underestimate the importance of the compliance function today because regulators can impose heavy fines and shut down operators that do not follow the rules. From a business perspective, the fragmentation of the European market is obviously the biggest challenge. While there are many similarities in regulations, there are some small but important differences. Reputable operators are not after light-touch regulation; all we require is clarity. I think we still have a long way to go until we get to a common European regulatory framework. Many countries only recently introduced regulations; they are still in the process of finding out what works and what does not work. I am confident that they will soon start learning from each other’s best practice, which could lead to a joint approach in regulating the industry. However, it is crucial that they first gain their own experiences in managing a regulated market, then they would be in a better position to agree on common standards.” Ewout Wierda General Counsel of Videoslots
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Saviour Cachia, Information and Data Protection Commissioner Malta
Setting the Record Straight
The Data Protection Commissioner
The EU’s data protection laws are fast becoming a global standard, but six months after enforcement many iGaming companies still have work to do, says Saviour Cachia, Malta’s Data Protection Commissioner.
How would you describe the transition to GDPR, and what have been the main challenges for companies?
There has been a lot of hype before the introduction of the GDPR and this could be mainly attributed to the fact that infringements can carry hefty fines of up to 4% of a company’s global turnover or €20 million, whichever is greater. We usually receive around 80 official complaints per year, of which, 75% are related to data protection issues while 25% concern freedom of information requests, which we handle as well. In addition to the official complaints, we deal with enquiries, but I have to say that before the 25th of May this year, we received hundreds of emails enquiring about the new regulation. We noticed a lot of uncertainty. Companies from the iGaming industry particularly enquired about retention timeframes, as they now have to inform the players how long they are going to keep their data. There was also a lot of confusion about newsletter signups. Many Maltese companies asked their clients to verify their newsletter subscriptions, which was not needed if they had already collected valid consent from their subscribers.
From your experience with the iGaming industry, what are the main shortcomings that you notice within the sector?
Notwithstanding having been subject to data protection rules under the Directive 95/46/EC for a good number of years, many companies do not seem to have enhanced their systems with the capabilities to facilitate access to data subjects’ rights, including providing sufficient information to ensure fair and lawful processing. Furthermore, companies might have also overlooked the recent increase in cybersecurity risks and, as a result, are currently striving hard to ensure that the necessary technical measures in their systems are in place to, inter alia, detect and prevent data breaches. In fact, since the onset of
GDPR, we recorded some 70 data breaches, 15 of which related to iGaming companies. We also notice that proper email encryption is missing, for instance, on laptops that employees take home. This becomes an issue should the laptop be stolen or lost. Beyond the technology aspect, iGaming companies, especially operators, need to look into the relationship they have with their affiliates since, in certain instances, they should assume a level of responsibility for the actions of their affiliates.
Can you elaborate a bit more on your stance towards affiliate marketing and the affiliate’s role in handling personal data?
We know that responsible advertising and affiliate marketing are hot topics in the gaming industry. We already dealt with those issues pre-GDPR. In fact, we had a high-profile case: some 9,000 individuals had complained to the UK Information Commissioner that they had received spam emails from an iGaming affiliate. The affiliate was promoting a gaming company in Malta, hence, the complaints were referred to us. Had this case occurred under the GDPR, it would have been a co-decision making process with the UK Information Commissioner and subject to the administrative fines regime of the GDPR. In this particular case, we ruled that the iGaming company was responsible for the unsolicited emails sent by its affiliate. The case is not yet closed because the gaming company appealed our decision, and we are still awaiting the outcome of the appeal. We are aware that the relationship between an affiliate and an operator can be complex given the industry structure and the fact that there are affiliate networks, affiliates and even sub-affiliates, and we acknowledge that there might be cases where both parties should be responsible from a data privacy point of view, as well as cases where only one of them is responsible. The outcome of the appeal will be important in clarifying and confirming responsibilities further.
There are more than 250 iGaming companies in Malta with international operations. How do you respond to cross-border data protection issues and how do you ensure regulation of companies in Malta with an international footprint?
GDPR provides for greater co-operation and information sharing between European data protection authorities. Cross-border incidents that substantially affect users from a number of EU member states will generally be investigated by a lead supervisory authority. We are the lead authority if the company has its main establishment in Malta, which is the case for most iGaming companies. But we don’t work in isolation as other authorities can offer their view and recommendations on which actions should be taken, particularly when individuals in their own jurisdiction have been adversely affected by processing operations. We can also ask for assistance during an investigation, for instance in cases where we may lack technical expertise. Where appropriate, we can also conduct joint investigations and joint enforcement action. In this scenario, we will enter into a co-decision making process with other supervisory authorities representing data subjects affected by the violation.
“I believe the landscape will further evolve in the coming years.”
How do you expect privacy laws to evolve in the coming years?
I believe the landscape will further evolve in the coming years. One reason for this is new technology in the form of blockchain, which was not taken into consideration when GDPR was written. The GDPR requirements apply also to blockchain processing. One of the major concerns relates to the concept of a ‘retention period’ given that no data on the blockchain can be deleted. These issues need to be addressed, and they are on the agenda of European Supervisory Authorities. Looking outside of Europe, we also see that Europe’s privacy laws are fast becoming a global standard, with many countries around the world updating their data protection legislation to mirror the GDPR model because they fear their companies and service providers could be shut out of the European market.
Saviour Cachia has experience in Systems Development and Data Management activities. He sat on inter-ministerial committees to draft a legal framework to regulate and enable information practices, covering data protection regulations. He articulated and implemented a strategy to set up the Office of the Commissioner and to facilitate compliance within the Public Service. On 16th April 2014, Saviour Cachia took oath of Office as Commissioner for Information and Data Protection. Apart from representing Malta in the Article 29 Working Party/EDPB, he was also the national expert to discuss the proposed data protection framework at DAPIX.
Do you have a final message that you’d like to share?
We feel awareness has increased significantly especially this year in the run up to the GDPR. A lot of companies have done a lot of work to make preparations to comply with the GDPR. However, organisations still need to ramp up their data protection efforts to conform to the GDPR. All European data protection authorities are willing to bite, if required, and we are no exception. However, we certainly prefer to engage and educate people including data controllers and processors. Everyone who has a question can reach out to us, and we are committed to replying within a reasonable timeframe. Sound data protection gives companies the competitive edge in this digital age and data-driven economy. n
The Mixology of Marketing
ctices are arketing pra m ’s ry st u cognising he ind e sector is re th t u b e, eg g adverts under si of gamblin cy en u eq ting the that the fr nels is attrac an ch er h ot makers and on TV and tors, policyla gu re of cognition attention a general re is e er h T too far politicians. gone a step as h ry st u d g and now that the in s marketin it of ty si n doing. They in the inte what it is es ss -a re that are needs to ith practices w p u e m ns make need to co ore politicia ef b le b ta p advertising more acce em and ban th r fo n io to limit the the decis e by Sky TV ov m e h T commercial outright. s to one per rt ve ad of ng attitude number of the changi on ti ec fl ng re break is a s the gambli stry toward u d in ia ed of the m sector.
The New Rules Regulators as we ll as advertising an d consumer protec also been casting tion authorities ha an eye on the outp ve ut of marketing depa compliance has be rtments. Advertisin come a hot topic g ov er th e last year, with com brought to task for small omission panies being s, rig ht adverts that migh up to fining them t attract underage heavily for gamblers. Govern whole suite of law ments are bringin s, including a water g in a shed from dawn til during live sports l dusk, no advertisin events as children g might watch them on themes and ch , as well as restrict aracters that migh ions t ap pe al gaming companies to minors. On a po are taking all of th sitive note, is very seriously an ahead of the curv d are looking to ge e in complying wi t th these regulation Marketing team s. s now have their ow n are advising them dedicated legal teams that of what each coun try requires in te regulations, which rms of advertisin makes marketing g a very complex ta certain channels sk. This has also se being cut out co en m pl et ely , which companies for instance SMS are removing fro marketing, m their portfolio control who read s because they ca s the message. Ev nnot en a simple twee #sponsored or #a t that doesn’t inclu dvertising could ge de t an operator in tro uble.
Towards Zero-Risk Marketing “Marketing compliance is one of our top priorities at the moment, especially in certain regulated markets such as the UK, where restrictions and penalties on gambling advert violations are much tougher than ever. I am quite certain that other countries will eventually follow suit. The regulatory landscape is still in flux and changes frequently. Before we launch a new marketing campaign, we are always asking for legal advice. We want to take zero risk. Affiliates are an important driver of traffic for us. I personally think they should be regulated, too. Right now, in some regulated markets, we as an operator are responsible for the actions of affiliates and even sub-affiliates. We check every single affiliate to make sure they comply with the regulations in the markets they operate. If we have any doubt about their integrity, we stop working with them, even if this means we will lose business. We want to be sure that we are always compliant with the regulations. Given the challenges around player acquisition, we are also placing a stronger focus on retention marketing, which is becoming ever more important to create engaged customers.” Ali Atam CMO of Videoslots
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Entering the Era of Smart Marketing “The general challenge, especially for a PLC, is finding the right balance: balancing longterm versus short-term goals, growth versus profitability, and brand building versus direct marketing. Changes in regulation and some of the underlying market fundamentals in some jurisdictions make forecasting and ROI analysis more difficult, and require a greater reliance on judgment calls. I firmly believe that marketing is becoming ‘smarter’. This trend has already started and will only continue. Great strides in machine learning and AI mean that we can now optimise campaigns to a much greater degree and can reduce human ‘judgement calls’. This also means great personalization, and ultimately, getting closer to the ‘holy grail’ of marketing: right customer, right message, right time, right channel. Netflix is not only adapting the type of content it shows its users, it is also adapting the imagery it uses in the content titles it recommends. They may recommend the same title to two different users but may advertise it with different visuals. I am excited to harness these concepts in our industry and am looking forward to a time when we can offer our customers a fully personalised experience.” Irina Cornides CMO of Jackpotjoy Group
Change is in the Air Au
thorities a re not on ly taking look at op a fresh erators bu t also at Operators affiliates. are now responsib anyone le for who is referring to them. business There wa s a time marketing when was more about wo with the rking referral n etwork th the custom an with er. This is about to There is change. already p rice press affiliates to ure from up the rev enue share might see , which companie s g et more in in direct volved acquisitio n. Howev customers er, buying from affili ates still re 50% of ga presents ming com p a nies’ traffi not a cha c, so it is nnel they can disreg without in ard easily vesting he avily in th internal m eir own arketing. Bonuses and free spins hav the corne e been rstone of the indust marketing ry ’s entire approach for the la years. The st reality is th 10 at we will see a curt probably ailing of th ese eleme marketing nts as a tool. The industry w to look at ill have other way s of attract retaining ing and customers .
The Rise ofTech Marketing
in marketing ly be a big year ab ob pr ill w 2019 this area have ncements in va ad e Th . tech ications now , and the appl nt ca ifi gn si been to be more w companies lo al h uc m very t message to ering the righ liv de in ed et targ telligence (AI) er. Artificial in om st cu t gh ri the ly customised es to offer high ni pa m co s w allo oducts based arket their pr m to d an s t en cont any operator eferences. M pr er ay ow pl gr on s to exploring way are currently s of content si ba are on the sh t ke ar n m r thei recommendatio and n io at is al en on ev rs pe becomes onalisation engines. Pers th of ‘In-Play’ ow t with the gr an rt po im e or m be able to bet ayers desire to pl d an ts ke ar m . in-play events in real-time on
Navigating a Challenging Landscape “We are pushing hard to improve our product. The iGaming industry has become much more competitive, and if you really want to stand out, you need to offer a top-notch product and a great customer experience. If your product is not good, you will never get a good return on your marketing investment. On a global scale, we practically use all marketing channels. Affiliates are still an important driver of traffic for us, but we have changed the way we work with them. We put a lot more effort into building the relationship with the affiliate, and the entire process has also become a risk management exercise. There are restrictions in some markets, and for us it is important to find the right marketing mix. Marketing compliance and advertising restrictions have become much stricter, and we want to emerge as a leader in best practice. For instance, there are markets where a certain marketing technique is not illegal, but it might backfire on our reputation. Unless we are more proactive, I think the iGaming industry could follow the same restrictions that other industries face today. We need to be more vocal about our intense efforts in responsible gaming and get the message across that gaming is entertaining as long as it’s within limits.” Ronni Hartvig Chief Commercial Officer of Betsson Group
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Trends &TOPICS C-Suite Insight
Letâ€™s Learn from Netflix Challenges and Opportunities The marketing landscape for gam ing marketers has never been so complicated, but on the other side there is a clear determination by the industry to pull up its socks and deal with areas of sharp practice. The tools that are being developed have never offered marketers so many possibilities to be innovative in their marketing campaigns and product positioning. Many compan ies are looking to online retailers and streami ng networks in the way they are executing their marketing and personalise their content. Pers onalisation of content is going to be one of the key differentiators between the winners and the lose rs.
â€œImproving customer retention has become a full 360-degree exercise, involving brand, positioning, product, promotions and much more. Acquisition is simple in comparison. Personalisation and Responsible Gambling are the two most important macro trends affecting our marketing decisions at the moment. Customers expect to be presented with relevant product offerings connected to promotions tailored to their preferences. Netflix and the likes are doing a fantastic job in this area and are raising the bar for what people expect also from other services. As an industry, we are still far behind I would argue. It is equally important to build a unique brand. While a performancebased strategy with a focus on high affinity, like affiliates, can work for start-ups to establish a profitable business, it is important to invest in brand- and awareness building if you want to grow the business into something bigger. Marketing compliance has also gained in importance, and we have tightened up the terms and conditions with our affiliates. We have also implemented a monitoring system with which we can keep on top of the creatives being used by affiliates, and we have even stopped working with a number of affiliates who did not want to comply with our requirements.â€? Magnus Alebo Managing Director Brands of Mr Green Ltd
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
The Blockchain Expert
Brock Pierce, Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation
Brock Pierce believes blockchain will be an evolution, and not a revolution, where the old doesn’t have to die for the new to win.
Why is blockchain important?
In the same way the industrial revolution gave America and the West its prosperity, the invention of the internet created all sorts of activity around the world. Blockchain in my view is going to be bigger than the internet itself. The right way to think about the blockchain is that it’s going to replace the entire internet. The internet was the mechanism for democratisation of information. It has given everyone the ability to access information wherever they are in the world on whatever device they choose to use. When the internet was first being developed, we didn’t have the computer processing capability to actually secure the internet. By the time we got the processing ability to implement the necessary cryptography to secure it, the foundation had already been laid.
What impact do you see blockchain technology having?
The world now wants a lot more than just information. Information plays a critical role in the world in which we live, but with an insecure system we cannot do much with it. Blockchain is a security layer amongst other things. It’s going to operate the internet and deliver what I call the new internet. Take the internet that you have right now and add security, trust and transparency, you can now do anything you want with it, you can run elections on it, you can manage financial systems, and the list goes on. The internet has affected everyone’s lives and every business on the planet, this will do the same and so much more. Today, a lot of it is still theoretical because the technology is still a prototype; we are just leaving that phase now and starting to see scalability. The internet wasn’t useful to people until they had an internet browser, search engines, sufficient content, things to buy and stuff to do. It took more than 20 years until the internet was actually useful to people. Things are going much faster now, and I think we are now entering that phase where real impact is going to happen.
How long do you think it will be before we see this technology in our everyday lives?
I’m an optimist, so I’m focused on the positive. I believe it’s going to happen faster than anyone would think, because in the same way that it used to take 10 years to get to a billion users, then five years, then three years… We are soon going to see technology impacting a billion lives in a year. Everything is going faster and faster.
Cryptocurrencies have been the most visible use of blockchain; does the volatility worry you?
Most of the utility we see today has been around speculation. But that speculation is also important. Until you have a sufficient amount of liquidity in the system, most of the other big ideas that we often talk about can’t happen. Americans for many years would come to me and ask “Brock, why would I want bitcoin?” because they’ve read some news story that was sensationalised. I’d be like “You shouldn’t, it’s not for you. You have a piece of plastic in your pocket that allows you to pay for things. You’ve rule of law, you’ve got faith in the system. This isn’t going to change your life”. Is bitcoin a good currency? No, it’s too volatile. People want stability. Bitcoin is a better store of value. Bitcoin is gold 2.0. Precious metals were the primary form of money for 2,000 to 5,000 years. We are still at the beginning of this journey. Look at the internet. In 1995, the internet was only used by criminals, and in 2000, after the bubble crashed, everybody said there is no business to be had on the internet. Big ideas and changes like blockchain and cryptocurrencies take time to happen. We are now just getting into the phase where these systems are going to be easy for everyone to use.
Do you see blockchain as an evolution or revolution?
I aspire for evolution because it’s not chaotic. I want to see change that’s beneficial to everyone. It’s going to happen in one way or another, but let’s do it in the right way if we can. And the right way is inclusiveness. Obviously, innovation is always disruptive,
but you can include people in disruption, and you can allow the old systems to be a beneficiary of the change. In reality, if you want to affect change thoughtfully, it needs to be inclusive. The old doesn’t have to die for the new to win. If you want to affect change quickly, it has to happen from the inside, it has to be inclusive of everyone. Otherwise, they’re going to fight it.
What role do governments have to play in this new decentralised world?
Governments and regulators have a big role to play. Regulators move slowly and so should they. That is their job, and most of them are intent on doing their job right, which is to protect consumers. If you want to see a real change in the world, you have to have buy-in from all the major participants. I spend a lot of my time educating governments and regulators because if you want sensible and good regulation, it requires well-informed regulators. If you want governments to make good decisions, you need a well-informed government. Governments are now competing around the world; they are recognising the potential of the technology and the benefits it provides to their constituency and their people. They are embracing the technology and, in some cases, taking two steps forward and one step back because new things are always confusing, and it’s hard to know what to do. But you know when it’s right, when you understand that you can do something that can positively impact the lives of others. Who wants to be the person who said no to improving the lives of billions of people?
“Blockchain is democratising the global financial system; every human being on the planet is going to have equal access, and the least fortunate billions of people are going to be the biggest beneficiaries.”
Who will blockchain technologies impact the most?
The status-quo is working for those on top, but I believe the developing world is going to be the biggest beneficiary. What most people don’t realise is that billions of people on this planet have limited or no access to financial tools whatsoever. They don’t have their basic human rights or needs being met to live a prosperous life. Blockchain is democratising the global financial system; every human being on the planet is going to have equal access, and the least fortunate billions of people are going to be the biggest beneficiaries. These applications will raise the poorest out of poverty, or at least give them the tools to do so, which they haven’t had up to now. Today, the only way they can do this is by winning the lottery.
Brock Pierce is an internet entrepreneur turned crypto billionaire who is listed as number nine on Forbes Richest People in Cryptocurrency. He is Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, Founder and Managing Partner of Blockchain Capital and advisor to many of the most influential players in the blockchain world.
Malta has been coined the Blockchain Island. What’s your impression of the country?
Malta is the equivalent of a start-up nation. It’s one of those countries that embrace change, but Malta is not alone. Malta is demonstrating that it is ahead of the pack. But then if Japan and other large countries were not taking any steps back, there wouldn’t be any room for Malta to jump in. The technology is indisputably game changing and is beyond proven by every major academic and institution. The only question is who will be the winners? It will be determined by those people that choose to be leaders, and Malta is taking a leadership position.
What’s the final message you would like to share?
Give, share, love. The world needs people now that are doing more than looking after themselves. If you have been blessed with abundance, you’re living a comfortable life, it’s time to give a shit. Give and take go hand in hand, just taking doesn’t make the world sustainable. You need to give more than you take. n
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GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
The Race is
The CEO right up to the board of directors are going to have to get a lot more tech savvy to manage the digital minefield coming down the road. As tech on both sides of the betting equation advances at lighting speed, the race is now on to ensure the one rule of gambling remains true: The House Always Wins.
The Future of AI
ne Learning (ML) have gence (AI) and Machi While Artificial Intelli industry for a number aspects of the gaming been permeating many l of the technology is w that the full potentia of years, it is only no drive to automate as d. iGaming operators’ starting to be harnesse costs and provide a ssible to reduce staff many operations as po and application of increasing the adoption more quality service is ustry is pretty much of AI in the gaming ind this technology. The use ate the whole betting time potentially autom unlimited and can in iques now provide the machine learning techn cycle. The advances in a and monitor games, ge large volumes of dat a ability for AI to mana in real time 24 hours s and settle payments m ble pro t price odds, accept bet spo panies to technology allows com day, 7 days a week. The omatically. AI has aut or avi beh fraudulent gamblers and detect sonalised experiences provide players with per it allowed companies to level while delivering tent on an individual a ng ati cre and to adapt their con , ing in so do multiple channels, and ts rke ma l simultaneously across cia an like fin experience. But much better all-round gaming g, technology is a two din tra y enc m high frequ ir have come to learn fro used by players to the e technologies can be r soa to way street. These sam set is ment in AI omated betting. Invest its t loi exp advantage through aut to k yers see both operators and pla in the coming years as informed data-driven re mo d an ter to make fas numerous advantages decisions.
“Datacentres are just one aspect of a complex ecosystem comprising the whole managed infrastructure environment, and obviously cloud services. Two trends are more prevalent than others: the demand for managed IT services, and the increasingly hybrid nature of the set-ups being deployed, not just in the data centre but also on the customers’ premises, private or hybrid cloud setups, as well as on public clouds. As BMIT and Kinetix, we are approaching these requirements through a series of initiatives. Gaming customers are interested to understand how these two realities can work seamlessly. To address this we have developed MultiCloud Connect, providing a seamless and easy to set-up dedicated, international connection between infrastructures or systems within one of our data centres to public clouds such as Azure, but also Amazon AWS, Google Cloud and many other global cloud platforms.” Christian Sammut CEO of BMIT
Bullish on Blockchain as the best innovation for the Many hail blockchain technology n of the internet. Blockchain gaming industry since the inventio the hottest topics within the technology has become one of e that the blockchain tech industry, and many operators agre More than just a distributed revolution has only just begun. gy’s ability to send, receive database for bitcoin, the technolo erlying power to truly disrupt and store information has the und stry in the years ahead. The the status quo of the iGaming indu technology mean the industry implications of decentralised ledger ency issues and completely could address a myriad of transpar le the technology is still in its re-design its business model. Whi of technological solutions for early days, it still offers a myriad compliance, instant payments, the iGaming industry. Regulatory ction, fund raising through identity verification, fraud dete , random number generation ICOs, smart contracts for affiliates iceberg, and we can expect verification are just the tip of the implemented across the entire further applications that can be in 2019 and beyond. business operation to come online challenges for regulators Blockchain technology brings new g the anonymity and stability who are voicing concerns regardin have adopted a ‘wait and see’ of the systems. Many authorities nology in order to gain more approach to distributed ledger tech lications and risks in a gaming clarity on the technology, its imp yse what needs to be regulated environment before they fully anal lying regulation. It is positive and how they will go about app will allow the use of DLT in that the Malta Gaming Authority ary 2019, accepting games a sandbox environment from Janu on a blockchain environment. that are hosted fully or partially gy to really take off in the However, for blockchain technolo nd the world will need to adopt iGaming industry, regulators arou within the industry believe that a positive stance on its use. Many inue to grow in importance. blockchain’s relevance will only cont in could well prove to have The intelligent adoption of blockcha on iGaming companies in the the biggest non-product impact coming years.
“Gaming companies place great emphasis on efficiency, innovation and technology as they continue to grow and mature. We see greater investment and initiatives in the automation of operational processes, thus reducing cost and increasing efficiency. Not surprisingly, understanding customers through business intelligence and data analysis play a critical part in product innovation, personalisation and optimisation. The application of AI to big data and the development of predictive analytics to daily operating environments are areas that we believe will attract interest and investments.” Alan Craig Business Advisory Partner and iGaming Sector Leader of Mazars Malta
A Quantum Leap for AI “Although other entertainment industries have incorporated Artificial Intelligence with huge success – take Google as a prime example – the iGaming industry is still lacking behind from this perspective. So on the short to medium term, I do envisage that there will be quantum leaps forward in truly harnessing all the potential from this form of disruptive technology. One should also expect major developments from the industry in terms of the blockchain technologies. One of the major problems that the online industry has had to face concerns data: gaming results, winnings and payouts have never been available for public scrutiny. The integration of blockchain technology is expected to resolve these and other issues, and has the potential to revolutionise the gambling industry for players, operators as well as regulators. Not only will operators be provided with a much needed decentralised aspect to their operations, but the transparency surrounding blockchain technology can break the cycle of mistrust that sometimes taints the industry, assuring players fairness each and every time they decide to wager their money.” Alessandro Fried Chairman and CEO of BtoBet
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Emilie Tabor, Co-Founder and CMO of IMA
Under the Influence
The Influencer Marketing Agency
As iGaming brands are looking for people with strong social media followings to promote their brands, micro-influencers, and not virtual characters, will define the future of influencer marketing, says Emilie Tabor, Co-Founder of Influencer Marketing Agency (IMA). Can you tell us a bit about your company and the growth of influencer marketing?
It all started in 2010 when Maddie Raedts and I were building up a fashion-inspired platform called Fashiolista. We started using bloggers to reach a wider audience for the products on our platform. Within no time our platform had three million unique users, and other fashion brands started contacting us to see how they can use our network. This is when we realised that we were onto something big. We then launched Fashiolista Agency, helping fashion brands to communicate effectively through influencers. The market grew exponentially, and we eventually sold Fashiolista and founded the Influencer Marketing Agency (IMA). Today, we advise brands from all sectors, ranging from food, travel and lifestyle to fintech, crypto and gaming, and we have a network of 35,000 influencers. The company has grown to around 100 people, including a team of in-house developers designing tools that analyse and measure influencers, their followers as well as the success of our campaigns.
How has the industry evolved in recent years and what role does your agency play in developing an influencer marketing strategy?
In 2010, influencer marketing only worked via blogs. Today blogs hardly work anymore. Depending on the sector, we are looking at other platforms such as Facebook and Instagram for travel, and Youtube and Twitch for gaming. Overall, I would say that the industry has become a lot more transparent when it comes to paid contributions. Influencers remain credible when only one in four posts is sponsored, and they also need to properly disclose that. For our clients, we work on a fully tailored content strategy. We create a full production schedule so that the brand partners know exactly what happens and when. The process is quite scripted, not in terms of content creation but in terms of the timing.
It is not all that long since brands thought that they would need to build a relationship with a celebrity to be successful. Does this still hold true?
While in the industry’s early days a large following was everything, we have now seen the rise of the micro-influencer. A micro-influencer might have 500,000 followers, instead of 5 million, but those 500,000 might be much more of interest to a brand if they want to target a niche audience. Micro-influencers have audiences that are more targeted and people find them more trustworthy. Their content is often more personalised and authentic, which results in higher engagement. In fact, microinfluences have an engagement rate – the percentage of likes, shares or comments to a post – that is 65% higher than those of traditional influencers.
What is a good engagement rate and how much does an influencer cost?
A post of an influencer with 3 million followers on average reaches 10 million impressions because some people might see the content multiple times. But the number of people that actually interact with the content will be much lower. It is not unusual that the engagement rate is between 1% and 3%. For our campaigns, we target an engagement rate of 5% to 10%. Influencers typically receive between €10 and €30 for every 1,000 interactions.
Influencer marketing is already utilised by many gaming brands. What should gaming companies pay attention to when working with influencers?
Gaming is the only sector with more male than female influencers, and compared to other industries, micro-influencers in the gaming sector have a larger following than micro-influencers in other industries. When it comes to targeting gamers, one has to devise a rock solid strategy. Gamers have a very short attention span, and you need to get their attention within the first six seconds otherwise you lose them.
“Gamers have a very short attention span, and you need to get their attention within the first six seconds otherwise you lose them.”
What are the most common mistakes?
Most brands make the mistake that they want to exercise a certain level of control over the influencer. Brands need to trust that their influencers know what their audiences want. Influencer marketing might also not be effective if brands are working with the wrong influencer because they haven’t done their data research properly. Companies need to look at an influencers’ engagement rate and their growth rate while making sure that the influencer does not work with any competitors. It is also important to be transparent when it comes to paid contributions, which need to be marked with #ad or #sponsored. Brands also need to pay attention to special advertising guidelines. We work with a lot of alcohol brands, where 80% of the followers of an influencer have to be over 18 years, otherwise we are not allowed to work with that influencer. We have a similar situation when it comes to gaming and gambling. Technology plays an important role in this regard, and today there are tools that allow us to measure the age of the followers.
Brands are now creating virtual influencers. Is this a segment that will grow?
I don’t believe that virtual influencers are the future. They are simply not real and people cannot identify themselves with them. I believe it’s the authentic, human-to-human reviews that resonate with followers. n
Emilie Tabor has nearly a decade of experience in influencer marketing and co-founded IMA at the age of 24. Born in Arnhem and of dual Dutch and American nationality, she oversees the agency’s client relationships and global profile in her role as CMO and Founder. Throughout her career, she has secured many partnerships with leading brands including NIVEA, Tommy Hilfiger, Unilever and Estée Lauder. Emilie oversees client relationships and the daily management of IMA, whilst broadening global operations such as the expansion of IMA offices into new markets. Emilie was recently featured on Forbes’ 2017 30 under 30 Europe: Media list, alongside fellow co-founder Maddie Raedts. She was also mentioned in The Drum 2017 ‘50 under 30’ list.
The Automated Player Account
KYC platforms are set to make a big impact on the onboarding process of iGaming operators in the coming years. One of the great breakout products of the past year has been the no account casino, using a BankID to verify and authenticate player account opening information. This development has heralded the expectations of players to be able to instantly open an account, deposit funds and withdraw winnings without having to go through a lengthy account authentication process of registering, verifying account information, scanning utility bills and uploading passports, which have left players frustrated with their on-boarding experience. New blockchain identity platforms are now offering operators and players a much more efficient and effective way to automate the account opening process. The platforms allow operators to perform the same KYC checks as they are currently doing manually in a fast, reliable and regulatory compliant manner. While the BankID may have broken the ground on this development, it is certainly one development operators will be keen to embrace as they push for greater automation of compliance functions and fulfilling players’ quest for instant entertainment.
“The Maltese government is attempting to regulate the blockchain/DLT virtual environment in a holistic manner but wants to ensure that the regulation is strict and secure. Malta’s reputation has to be protected at all costs. New opportunities are being created for service providers who are willing to engage in these new technologies. We now have to wait and see how the industry reacts to the regulatory framework. There is definitely a lot of interest, and if expectations are met we can expect another boom similar to the remote gaming one.” Trevor Axiak Director and Co-Founder of Contact Advisory Services
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VR’s Little Brother
ntioning the potential of ut iGaming without me abo k tal to ble ssi po im It is t while much has been mented reality (AR). Bu aug d an ) (VR the lity rea l virtua len short in attracting hnologies, they have fal tec se the m for fro led ed coo ect exp has largely dicted. While the hype pre re we t tha ers see l mb wil nu t mass akout event tha ry is waiting for the bre virtual reality, the indust tream. The technology ins ma ss adoption and go ma n gai gy l it olo hn tec the ustry given the potentia tch for the iGaming ind wa to e on ny s ma ain ile rem l stil experience. Wh with a very immersive ers tom cus e the vid ry, pro ust to has eo gaming ind t potential is in the vid believe that VR’s bigges nger for this technology, cha e rts could be the gam spo live in in n tio lica app for iGaming industries whole host of avenues a up en op ld cou ich wh . d betting opportunities best terms of marketing an le brother, is probably litt cribed as VR’s e aus bec AR, which is often des ng world of iGami application within the te dia me a im es for uir req ced pla e whereas VR through a mobile phon ed enc eri s exp pas be sur tly can it will significan e expectation is that AR Th t. dse e hea som ted ed ica ded has experienc a number of years. AR for e siz t t bu rke , ma GO in on VR es like Pokem recent past thanks to gam the in h wt of gro ent ive vem los exp as overall impro ger AR games, as well nly we can expect even big a technology has certai as lications in 2019. VR app d an gy olo hn tec AR is hard to tell. t how far in the future a place in the future bu
“Blockchain-based iGaming platforms could potentially be leading the iGaming industry in the next few years. Blockchain technology has gained real traction amongst online players as they experience what could possibly become the new digital gaming environment. Blockchain technology is expected to revolutionise the online gambling market.” Cosmas Cosma Director of Finanz-Audit
“The presence of blockchain can be felt like never before, with certain industries connecting with and adapting to the blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies on a deeper level than others. The gaming industry may be said to be one of the most predominant sectors in this respect since the blockchain offers it a lot of possibilities for evolution and growth. We look forward to see how collaborations between key players in each sector will develop and are keen to watch the sector grow from a regulatory and legal standpoint, in much the same way that the iGaming industry did.” Mark Attard CEO and Partner of BDO Malta
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
T. Jack Williams, Founder of Bitload4U
The Payment Specialist
Bringing Cryptocurrency into the Mainstream
T. Jack Williams, the founder of Bitload4U, intends to bridge the global gap between fiat and crypto currencies.
Can you tell us about your background?
I have been working in the payments industry for over 30 years designing and implementing operational credit, debit, prepaid and mobile payment programs for major companies and financial institutions around the world. I am probably most well-known for developing and launching the world’s first mass-produced electronic gift card program. My idea at the time was to replace paper gift certificates with a plastic pre-paid card. In 1994 the concept was rolled out at Blockbuster and subsequently went on to change the face of the gifting industry.
What is BitLoad4U and what was the inspiration behind it?
I have been involved with digital currencies from 2011, since then, cryptocurrency investing has become a worldwide trend and delivered great returns for investors. But what’s the point of having a spectacular return on your bitcoin investment if you can’t spend your money? At some point bitcoin holders still want to be able to use their funds. No one wants to keep bitcoin purely as a souvenir or strictly as a store of value. The problem is, there is very limited acceptance for every day purchases and this brings us to the current issue of global utility. BitLoad4U is going to be a bridge between the Virtual and Fiat currency. It is a virtual wallet and global payments platform where merchants and consumers can transact with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in a fast, cheap and effective way. Our users are able to deposit value from their bitcoin to a traditional financial instrument that is accepted in millions of merchant locations around the world including banks and ATM machines. Having that easy access to your money is the change we’re bringing to the world of bitcoin and crypto currencies. Within 5 years you’ll spend a bitcoin just like you spend the euro. BitLoad4U is also
very committed to implementing and maintaining the highest standards of KYC. The more you want to transact, the more we want to know about you.
When do you see this going mainstream or will it ever? When I invented the gift card no one had ever heard of it. Many of the large retailers said, “Williams, you have lost your mind, there is no such thing as a gift card,” and I said, “No, I invented it and now it exists”. Five years later, the companies I worked with produced one billion gift cards a year. Bitcoin has the potential to reshape the financial industry, yet some might still deny it becoming the next online payment method. But just as 25 years ago the simple gift voucher became the loyalty card we know and love today, eventually people will see its advantages and the utility it brings to the market. To merchants, for example, the fees are so much less than for the credit cards, there is no charge back and no fraud. The consumer will like it because it’s fast and pretty simple to use. There are also some very strategic advantages for ATM owners because BitLoad4U is going to drive more transactions to their machines.
Why did you decide to set up in Malta?
Malta is a great business location with a strong pro-blockchain environment. The Maltese Government has shown great support and willingness to engage with the blockchain community, and this is why I believe Malta is in a strong position to be a leader in the blockchain economy. But whenever you’re the first, you have to find your way — the road has not been paved ahead of you. I believe Malta can become a global business centre for blockchain industry. One of the key selling points of Malta is people. The people you can hire in Malta just seem to be exceptional.
“I think now is one of the most exciting times in the payment industry.”
How fast is your business expanding? What are the challenges?
The key problem is consumer awareness. People have heard of bitcoin, it has different connotations to different people. But when you ask the average person on the street if they know how to get a wallet, the answer is usually ‘no’. A bitcoin wallet is just something new and people often fear the unknown. We are building strong business relationships that will give us connectivity for transactions in over 60 countries for the 30 million cryptocurrency wallets that are currently active, but the market potential is far greater.
How is the gaming industry benefiting from this and how can gaming companies use B4U?
MasterCard and Visa have a very high cost to the merchants, and are a subject to some regulatory issues. We provide the gaming houses with lower costs, greater security and faster, easier transactions for the players. The gaming industry is extremely attractive for fraudsters both large and small, they can be as high as 7 to 9 percent of a gaming companies’ expenses. For instance, a player buys a stolen credit card that off the internet and uses it to top up their gaming account, the gaming company is placing itself at serious risk of claw backs. With the security of bitcoin, we eliminated that risk completely. Within 5 seconds we can receive your bitcoin, process it, and then send the authorization to the gaming company, which also gives a second advantage of spontaneity. Placing a live bet once the football game has started is impossible if you don’t have funds in your account. But if you load
T. Jack Williams is the founder of BitLoad4U. His speciality is to develop and implement prepaid debit card programs on a domestic or global scale. Jack previously served as president at Paymentcard Services and eCommLink, and senior vice president at Tier Technologies and National Processing Company, most recently.
your bitcoin and use a bitcoin wallet you can bet before the end of the commercial. That’s why this is a unique solution for the gaming companies. What I want to do is bring speed, convenience and utility to the gaming industry — that’s why we built the BitLoad4U.
What are your future plans?
I think now is one of the most exciting times in the payment industry. Old legacy players are the past, the next 3-5 years will be a very exciting time to see the transition from legacy banks and legacy payments to virtual payment platforms. Millennials have embraced the use of a smartphone technology, so we need to give them the utility and security of a smartphone. BitLoad4U is bringing an innovative banking alternative to the gaming community that is safe, secure and fast to drive usage and boost revenue. We are going to make cryptocurrency a new mainstream payment tender, easily available to the average consumer that works online, at an ATM and for a merchant purchase transaction. n
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
The Need for
SPEED ence a seamless user experi odayâ€™s players demand ger lon utions. They are no and agile payment sol ies pan get paid. If gaming com willing to wait days to k ris a is nings for too long, there delay withdrawing win t tan Ins . to another platform that players will move ard nd sta t becoming the new pay-out options are fas are more yer loyalty. As players in order to ensure pla other or from one device to an frequently switching panies currently, iGaming com using many devices con nnel cha needs of these omniare having to meet the ya pla ers their payment provid players. Operators see ud fra nt g the impact of payme greater role in minimisin tric me bio gh device pairing and and bonus abuse throu the dual technologies also have authentication. These for both the payment journey effect of speeding up yers to pla panies, allowing players and gaming com . money instantaneously deposit and withdraw
Tokenisation is the bu zzword within the iGaming industry at the moment, with many operators looking to see how they can utilise tok ens in their payment processes. Co mpanies are evaluating whether to launch their own token or accept third-party tokens. For operators lau nching their own token the quest ion remains whether players will be willing to hold a variety of tokens from multiple operators. While the industry has seen many third-par ty providers come up with token sol utions, there have also been some blo w-ups, which have dented confidenc e. No one token is currently stand ing out from the crowd as the one that is going to cement the marke t and be the ultimate token that it will dominate the iGaming scene.
Cryptocurrencies in iGaming will most certainly grow in importance in the years ahead as their utility increases and they start moving more into the mainstream. While many iGaming companies do accept cryptocurrencies as a payment method, pushbacks from banks, regulators and governments have paused the rate at which gaming operators are adopting cryptocurrencies. The key issues that are troubling regulators right now surround the anonymity of cryptocurrencies, which conflicts with operator’s KYC requirements to prevent money laundering and other criminal activities. Other issues are the price fluctuations of cryptocurrencies given that the large majority of an operator’s costs are in fiat currencies. While there are advantages such as the elimination of charge-backs, the current time to confirm crypto transactions compared to traditional payment methods also poses a barrier to mass-adoption. In a world where consumers are looking for instant payments, the cryptocurrency transaction infrastructure needs to catch up. Once these issues have been solved, the overall outlook for the use of crypto in the gaming industry is certainly positive. Gaming companies are very keen to plant a stake in this segment, and perhaps the best possible route for the time being would be to create a ring-fenced operation that is exclusively focused on servicing the crypto community.
“The cryptocurrency and blockchain hype has been one of the main topics in 2018. Groundbreaking instant payments have started to get first attention, but iGaming companies have not yet adopted them. In general, the use of crypto in the industry might become more common in the future as we are now seeing more solid and substantiated ICOs and coin models that are changing the landscape.” Jens Podewski CEO of Paymentworld Europe
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Adam Kostyál, Head of Listings EMEA, Nasdaq Nordic
Nasdaq: From the Nordics to New York
The Stock Exchange
The Nasdaq Nordic market has outpaced all other European stock exchanges as the most active market for IPOs of iGaming companies. While Nasdaq’s Adam Kostyál expects more IPOs in Stockholm in the coming years, he says Europe’s iGaming companies are also evaluating the possibility of a listing in New York as they are racing to set up operations in the US. Can you give us an introduction to Nasdaq Nordic and explain how you built up such a thriving iGaming cluster?
It truly has been a tremendous IPO market in the Nordics over the last couple of years. What makes our market so special is that we are able to list small- to medium-sized growth companies, meaning companies below a valuation of €600 million. In Europe, this is pretty unique. We also built up a vibrant ecosystem of financial advisors and investors supporting younger companies as they grow. We have advisors working exclusively with SMEs, and a market where both institutional and retail investors are willing to invest in these companies. This means that there is high liquidity in the market, and I think this explains why the market is attractive for iGaming companies. Companies such as Betsson and Unibet have been on the exchange for many years now. Their presence meant that investors have come to understand the iGaming sector, which in turn has attracted other iGaming companies to join too. Today, there are some 20 companies in our iGaming cluster, and many of them have grown from small companies to relatively large companies on the Exchange. While most companies are of Scandinavian origin, we are now seeing strong interest from international companies looking to leverage our platform, in particular our growth market Nasdaq First North. Aspire Global, the Malta-Israeli iGaming platform, was one of the first non-Nordic companies we welcomed to Nasdaq First North.
What are the reasons for iGaming companies to go public and why do you believe investors find the sector interesting?
Companies that are coming to the market have a global ambition. And besides raising capital, they are interested in the visibility and credibility that comes with being a public company. This seal of quality is something that companies are looking for, and something that can really help them as they are looking to expand internationally. Being a listed company also means that iGaming companies can leverage shares and options to attract top talent. In addition, many companies are looking at an IPO as a way to actively engage in the ongoing consolidation of the industry in Europe. The exchange is an asset for them to grow not only organically but also through acquisitions. The equities of gaming companies have enjoyed spectacular growth that few other sectors have managed to achieve in recent years. This is something that has been very interesting for both institutional and retail investors.
Can you tell us more about the iGaming investor base and the Nordic equity culture?
The equity culture in the Nordics is very strong. For instance, the majority of Swedish households own equity in some form, either directly or indirectly through pension funds. Most companies first target institutional investors because this takes away some of the volatility and provides greater predictability, then they can open up to retail investors. Retail investors are an important factor but they often look to the institutions to pre-qualify an investment, which helps make them feel comfortable investing
in that equity. Once the trading takes place, it is very much a retail-driven market. I’d also like to point out that one of the key attractions of Nasdaq First North is that it is built on the same trading platform as the main market, meaning that all traders that have access to the main market also have access to the First North market. In fact, some 70% of all trading on our markets is coming from international markets.
How easy or hard is it for companies to switch from Nasdaq First North to the main market?
The requirements of First North are lower and more suitable for more entrepreneurial-driven companies. We truly believe this is an excellent growth market, and together with our cluster of analysts and investors, we help these companies to really understand what it means to be a listed company and eventually prepare for the main market. Across all industries, some 70 companies have transitioned to the main market since the launch of Nasdaq First North in 2006. In the first eight months of 2018, nine companies switched to the main market, so it is actually happening quite often that companies outgrow the junior market and migrate to the main market.
How important is the Nasdaq brand to your ability to attract companies?
It probably helps but I believe our strong ecosystem and our track record are more important than the Nasdaq name. Companies are having success leveraging our markets, and this is creating interest in the Exchange as a potential venue for liquidity and accessing capital. However, I think that being part of the Nasdaq family will become more beneficial in the future when considering the recent developments in the US. With the US sportsbetting market opening up, there are a lot of European players who are keen to leverage that opportunity. We are already talking to companies wanting to increase their visibility in the US with a listing at Nasdaq New York, which we can facilitate.
How would that work out in practical terms?
Even though we are all part of the same group, we are operating within two different regulatory regimes. From a regulatory perspective, Nasdaq Nordic has very little to do with the US Nasdaq exchange but we can certainly help companies manage a listing in New York. The US is the next big frontier for the gaming sector, and New York definitely offers a good technology base and is a good place to raise capital. Investors still need to be educated about the industry, but US investors generally value high-growth sectors. However, to tap into the US market, a company’s performance needs to be strong. The cost of a US listing is higher, and to justify that cost, you need to have at least a valuation of US$1 billion.
What other trends are you noticing at the moment in the iGaming sphere?
We are seeing more and more companies leveraging the bond market. This comes either as an added layer on top of the equity listing or as a first step to a potential equity listing.
Adam Kostyál is Senior Vice President of Listing Services, Europe at Nasdaq. He has been instrumental in building up Nasdaq’s Nordic iGaming cluster. Adam has been with Nasdaq for the past 17 years. He started his career as a Sales Director, and then became Head of the Strategic Initiative Groups in 2006. Prior to Nasdaq, Adam held various positions with Enron, Cell Network and Bloomberg. He holds a BSc in Economics and Marketing from Vrije Universiteit de Bruxelles.
Generally speaking, I would say that the cluster has matured significantly in recent years. We are not only seeing iGaming operators float on the Exchange but also affiliates, as well as technology and platform providers. A few years ago, when companies were looking to do an equity listing, the discussion would have been ‘London versus Stockholm’. Today, given the success of our Exchange, we hardly have this discussion. We also notice some uncertainty in the UK market due to Brexit.
What key piece of advice would you like to share with companies wanting to list?
Make sure you understand what it means to be a listed company and make sure you are talking to the right people. Having said that, I think that many companies underestimate their maturity level, and a lot more companies – especially the ones operating in a regulated industry – are much more prepared for a listing than they think they are. For the best returns, companies should look to the most active market in their field as opposed to simply listing in their home market. That’s also why we believe our exchange is the place to be for iGaming companies. This advice might be slightly biased, but we have a strong track record. n
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
iGaming and Blockchain
Creating Synergy in Malta Blockchain has what it takes to open new opportunities for the iGaming industry. Mark Attard Chief Executive Officer BDO MALTA
ver the last decade, Malta has worked hard to cement its position as a jurisdiction of excellence in the world of iGaming, and it is now home to hundreds of online gaming operators and related service providers. But over the last 12 months, the country has started to be known for something else: blockchain, cryptocurrencies and ICOs. Dubbed the â€˜Blockchain Islandâ€™, the Maltese government and many forward thinking entrepreneurs have worked tirelessly to create a regulatory and business environment that is conducive to the exponential growth and development of this fledgling industry. But the question is, can the two industries coexist, or are they destined to compete with one of them falling by the wayside? While blockchain is typically associated with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin, the technology has the potential to become a game changer in the world of online gambling.
Additionally, the use of cryptocurrency as payment methods is already being utilised by a number of platforms due to the fact that they are faster and easier to use, without necessity for an intermediary. Widespread adoption of these payment methods could significantly speed up the deposit and payout process, with the blockchain creating an immutable and secure record of all payments, deposits and withdrawals. Cryptocurrency could also be used to create a pay-as-you-go ecosystem instead of BDO has requiring customers to deposit X-amount of several years funds into their account periodically. of experience The fact that blockchain is completely in iGaming as well as extensive practical knowledge of decentralised and is based on a blockchain, cryptocurrencies and cryptographically secure network means ICOs. This puts us in a position that it is virtually impenetrable to hackers. to be able to advise clients With no single hackable point of failure, from both industries on the the system is exceptionally resilient when it requirements of setting up such business in Malta. Working hard comes to hacking. Even if a hacker managed to bridge the gap between the to compromise one node, this would two sectors, BDO is leading the have no impact on any other nodes in the way in two of the most dynamic system, making the attempt futile and nonindustries of recent times, in beneficial. This is how it could happen a country that has earned a reputation as a global leader. While the Maltese government has recently The most obvious convergence of the two passed three acts that will provide a legal technologies is blockchain-based iGaming www.bdo.com.mt framework for blockchain, cryptocurrency and platforms that will seek to utilise the benefits ICOs, at this stage the Malta Gaming Authority of blockchain for the benefit of existing online gaming concepts. When we consider the requirement for (MGA) has only issued consultation requirements. The gambling operators to be transparent with their customers MGA is yet to grant licensing to blockchain gambling-related and regulatory authorities, it becomes clear that immutable businesses and activities. However, the MGA has publicly stated distributed ledgers could be used to disclose gambling odds that it supports operators that are hosted fully or partially on and subsequent results in a way that provides assurance and a blockchain environment as long as the gaming service they confidence. This method could provide a way for guarantees to provide is not altered by its setup. be made public that Random Number Generators remain so, and In October, at the Delta Summit 2018, the MGA launched its Sandbox Framework that would govern the acceptance of are not being manipulated by the operator or by any third party. The use of smart contracts has been suggested as a way to Virtual Financial Assets (VFAs) and Virtual Tokens (VTs), as automate and manage pay-outs on games such as roulette in well as the use of Innovating Technology Arrangements within an online casino. A smart contract is a digital agreement that the iGaming industry. As of January 2019, the Authority will executes pay-outs or actions when a pre-programmed condition begin to consider applications for the use of VFAs and VTs as is triggered by the outcome of another event. In terms of roulette, payment methods. This clearly demonstrates that the MGA is if a customer bets on red and the ball stops on red, the smart taking blockchain and cryptocurrencies seriously and that it contract would automatically execute the payment based on the believes in synergies between the two industries, which will develop further over the coming months. n outcome of each spin.
BULL RUN investment been the darlings of the aming companies have spectacular in few years, having turned community for quite a ion of not ent att the fits. This has attracted growth figures and pro o have wh , ors est ors but also retail inv h year only institutional invest wt gro ord rec companies delivering for a gotten used to gaming g cin bra are ny within the industry rt to on year. However, ma sta ies pan re and more gaming com may t turn in sentiment, as mo pas the of wth and the high profits the is issue guidance that gro n ow wd slo is iver going forward. Th ns tio be more difficult to del ula reg of mi tors, including the tsuna ts cos result of a number of fac h hig the ts, digest across all marke on y that companies have to sta to ms tea g in place compliance associated with puttin pting cutting-edge ado on s asi ph em , the the right side of law r-increasing taxes, measures, as well as eve ng bli gam ble responsi being placed on the and more restrictions higher fines and more ng revenue. , which, in turn, is reduci amounts people can bet t few countries tha y long runway given The industry had a ver seeing their w no ulations, but they are had implemented reg regulatory uce more countries introd margins squeezed as in order nt rta po im becoming increasingly frameworks. Scale is mergers ile wh es, nci tional and cost efficie panies to benefit from opera com g pin ying a bigger role in hel but and acquisitions are pla ver dri a l stil is goals. Organic growth h ug ho achieve their revenue alt nt, me ele also become an essential by ve acquiring turnover has mo e Th . ure challenging in the fut it might become more ng an example, to akers, William Hill bei more traditional bookm price competition ies will create greater acquire iGaming compan n targets. for attractive acquisitio rly positive for ges, the outlook is ove Despite these challen ny untapped ma s ha ies. The industry still listed gaming compan t players. rac att d an etrate new markets opportunities to pen recordthe tch ma e increasingly harder to ning However, it will becom run of ts cos d past as all the associate the of breaking numbers of the ve dri t nex e Th are starting to pile up. es. an iGaming operation nci cie effi d an ch about cost reduction industry will be very mu
Potential for Future Growth â€œThe iGaming industry is experiencing a decrease in investor interest at the moment. So for the industry, the biggest challenge is to raise interest. Having said that, interest from long-only investors is still somewhat strong, and in the larger capital markets such as London, Paris and the US we still see a lot of interest. The industry benefits from strong underlying growth. Some 80% of all gaming in Europe is land-based, and the move from offline to online and mobile is still underway, which promises future growth.â€? Philip Doftvik Head of Investor Relations at LeoVegas
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
TALENT ies, but the ent by iGaming compan the most sought-after tal ain rem s s rocketed list ha s cia rie spe ust ct across all ind ech and produ tech talent globally and for d an o against dem e als t Th bu d. er fin oth most difficult to peting against each com ly on ger lon no products companies are rket and distribute their in recent years. iGaming h tech skills to create, ma wit ple many peo for e ry uir ust req t ind tha hin the gaming all other industries s been very intense wit ha ated ent tal infl d for an r wa ing the ach routes to avoid po and services. While ve ati ern alt d fin to d roles across panies have ha role in filling specialist years now, gaming com g played an important lon s ha ent candidates tal ht g rig rtin the po gly longer to find wage demands. Im sin rea inc es tak it as , opening or hubs. However t gaming companies are all European iGaming tha is s nd tre t ges big sters. Tech hubs ocate, one of the of local tech talent clu who are willing to rel e tag an adv e tak to s ong inward in other location cities that have seen str expanding operations d Tallinn are some of the an v Kie ent years. , rec est in s dap Bu list , and product specia such as Stockholm h tec of rch sea in ies gly customising iGaming compan investment flows from ing companies increasin gam th Wi . nd tre s thi key driver of opening offices in Localisation is another panies are increasingly com t, rke ma h eac in reduced the sumer tastes positive impacts: it has their products to suit con ally. This has had two loc ent tal g ol that they tin po rui ent rec tal d many countries an panies up to a wider com d ene op d an ce the head offi of wage inflation. need to import talent to l to take out the steam tia ten po the s ha o als can tap into. This
A Focus on Personal Growth “Our HR-team is actively driving digitalisation within the organisation, which is ensuring that we can spend our time wisely. Less manual tasks means more time for innovation. I also believe that if an organisation wants to grow at a rapid and sustainable pace, there is no room for hierarchies or long decision paths. Young professionals today have such a wide variety of options to choose from, which means companies need to be clear and transparent of what they offer as an employer. Salaries and benefits are seldom what makes an employee loyal - the real winners of the ‘war on talent’ are those employers who can offer an environment catered to personal growth and development, where responsibility and adventure align. The trend is to create flexibility in the packages we offer to ensure that all employees really value what is being offered. Software engineers and other technical roles continue to be in high demand, which is a trend we have seen for several years. Currently, roles within conversion optimisation and analytics are also trending in popularity.” Caroline Palm Chief Human Resources Officer of LeoVegas
HR Goes Agile
“Attracting talent is becoming a top priority for all organisations. Despite the importance of attracting and retaining strong talent, the job market has become candidate driven, and candidates have far more power than before. We are now witnessing a narrower talent pool, as the demand for talent exceeds the supply. Furthermore, many iGaming companies are seeking to recruit candidates with specific knowledge and expertise that is difficult to source. Although there have been signs of strain in the talent pool, we have been successful in delivering good talent to many clients.” Francesca Buhagiar Recruitment Consultant of VacancyCentre
“Agile as a management practice is not only for technology and product implementations, but it has also been a trend adopted by HR functions in recent years. HR functions need to be responsive to the ongoing changes in the culture and work ethos of their organisations. We have adopted this way of working in our HR function, and it has yielded very positive results. The integration of AI in HR is another rather recent trend, which will certainly become more important in the coming months and years. It will contribute to increased efficiency, automation and a speedier talent pipeline. Our staff turnover is still higher than we’d like it to be, and even though we are based in Malta, a small sunny island in the Mediterranean, relocation is still one of the major challenges. Relocating to Malta does not appeal to everyone, and many of those who do choose to take up residence, do so only for a limited time. Technical positions are always in higher demand since technology has formed such an integral part of our lifestyle and business. Developers and other positions in product and technology are certainly the most sought-after roles. Hence, attracting the best talent and improving staff retention are among our top priorities at the moment.” Roberta Geres Chief Human Resources Officer of Mr Green
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Ian Smith, Esports Integrity Commissioner
The Future of esports will be a Regulated One
Esports Integrity Commissioner
The esports industry is growing and entering the mainstream, but the success of the sector has also increased the risk of corruption, match-fixing, doping and other criminal activities. If the industry wants to maintain its legitimacy, it must embrace regulations, says esports Integrity Commissioner Ian Smith. Can you tell us a bit about the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) and what you are doing?
The Esports Integrity Coalition is a not for profit members’ association established in 2015 by esports companies and betting companies to deal with issues of common interest – in particular the threat that match manipulation and betting fraud as well as other integrity challenges pose to esports. We are a small organisation, with only two full-time staff and two part-timers, as well as a number of interns and volunteers around the world who help us with various projects. We monitor all the global esports tournaments in association with the betting operators, who typically contact us when their systems and markets recognise unusual betting behaviour. This is when we start investigating. In 90% of the cases, there is a very good reason why the betting markets are behaving the way they do, but every now and again, there is no explanation – and most likely this is because the match is fixed.
What is the size and scope of the esports betting industry, and are some games more prone to match fixing than others?
Esports betting falls into two main categories: cash betting and skins betting. Today, Counter-Strike accounts for roughly 40% of the betting market, and is followed by Dota 2 at over 20%. The Valve Corporation publishes both games, and together they account for more than 60% of the betting market. However, there has been a massive increase in cash betting and a big decline in skins betting since Valve clamped down on skins operators in the summer of 2016. Very few skins based operators are left, but a lot of gamblers who started betting on esports in the skins markets have transitioned into cash markets.
Then there is League of Legends, accounting for some 12%, while Overwatch makes up 9% of the market. Besides these, no other game accounts for more than 1%. This means there are only a handful of games where match-fixing occurs – simply because most games don’t have large betting markets, although this hasn’t stopped people trying to fix smaller games’ betting markets; Warcraft3 being an obvious example. Given that it is the most popular betting game, it comes as no surprise that most alerts come up in Counter-Strike, which again is followed by Dota 2. The only anomaly here is that in the last three years, we have had no alerts in League of Legends — which means they do something right. We had a couple of issues in Overwatch, but not as many as I would expect. However, we have seen a significant increase of alerts in Dota 2 during the past two years.
What’s the reason for this?
I believe one of the reasons for this development is that Dota 2 is big in China, where sports betting is mostly illegal. This means there is a massive gambling market that operates under the radar and is mostly controlled by organised crime. Since Dota 2 and Warcraft 3 were licensed in China, match-fixing has sky-rocketed. Thus far, nobody has addressed this issue – most likely because China is a multi-billion-dollar market; game publishers and operators cannot afford to upset their Chinese partners.
What happens when you identify cases of foul play and what sanctions can you impose on individuals or teams that are found guilty?
There are two different routes. Let’s say, I have done an investigation, I think that there is a case to answer and that the players are guilty. I will then contact those players, and if they
admit they cheated, I can offer a plea bargain, which means a full disciplinary hearing on the matter is not necessary. If they say they didn’t do it and want to defend themselves, my role reverts to a prosecutor, and I have to present the case to a disciplinary panel — and I have no control over their decision. If the player or team is found guilty either of cheating to win, match-fixing, betting fraud or doping, we can sanction them with a number of measures such as disqualifying them from the tournament, fining them or banning them from all ESIC member tournaments for a period.
What are the big challenges for operators offering betting on esports at the moment?
The reliability and availability of good data are massive challenges in esports. Valve’s titles have an open API and operators have direct access to data, but for some other games, such as League of Legends and Overwatch, operators have to create their own markets from very limited data. They find it challenging to set their margins and make a profit, plus the meta data of the game can change too. For instance, publishers frequently add or rebalance heroes or change maps. When that happens, all previous data becomes meaningless — that’s the internal challenge. The external challenge for betting companies is to engage with the esports audience and attract them to a betting product. Esports fans are very suspicious of outsiders, and a brand can only win them over if they manage to connect with them.
How do you expect the market for esports to develop over the next years?
It is hard to predict which games will remain popular, and there are a lot of questions to which answers are not yet known. Will Counter-Strike remain the number one game? Will a new game come out and dominate the industry? Will the Overwatch league succeed? Will Dota 2 remain a Tier 1 esport? But in general terms, I have no doubt that esports will grow very rapidly over the next five years. Betting on esports will both be a driver and a beneficiary of that growth. Esports hasn’t arrived in the mainstream yet, but it will in couple of years. Awareness of esports has already increased, and esports have gone from being unknown and invisible to being visible and recognised. Overall, I am very optimistic about the sector’s growth – I am just not sure which element of it is going to work and which is going to fail.
From a regulatory point of view, what do you think will happen?
I think the industry needs to either self-regulate or accept that regulations will be imposed on it. Esports is growing, and in my opinion it is only a matter of time until policy-makers will turn their attention to the industry. As a first step the sector should agree on common standards that will address the three biggest problems the industry is facing. The first one is youth protection; they deal with a young and vulnerable demographic both in terms of players and fans. Number two is integrity, which is effectively what we do. And number three is safety and security at live esports events. Creating a basic set of rules is not rocket science. We, the ESIC, are also more than happy to help in this process.
Ian Smith is the esports Integrity Commissioner and has held that role since the esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) was founded in July 2016. Ian is a UK lawyer with over 20 years’ experience in traditional sports, primarily in regulation and governance. He advised clients in football, cricket, rugby, motorsport, golf and other sports before moving into eSports. Ian was born in Durban, South Africa, and got his law degree at the University of Natal before relocating to the UK in 1989.
What will the esports landscape look like in five years from now?
I am sure that there will be a top esports title that currently does not even exist. Secondly, the industry will be bigger and more mainstream than it is today. There will also be a bigger crossover between endemic and non-endemic brands within esports, while the quality and number of those brands will increase dramatically. In five years time, you could easily see big events being sponsored by the likes of Coca Cola, Visa or American Express. Ideally, we will also have better regulation and agreed standards across the industry, but I’m not sure that’s achievable in five years. n
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Grow Big or
Go HOME T
he affiliate secto r has been one of the big succes industry and has s stories of the managed to thriv iGaming e on the gaming buy new customer company’s willing s. Today the indu ness to str y sti ll customers, but lik delivers 50% of iG e operators, affilia aming companies te s ar e which include the facing many of th need to scale to co e same challenge s, mply with adverti jurisdictions and sing regulations in the associated ris m ul tip in le g co sts of landscape. navigating a mor e complex busines s Consolidated at th e top, fractured at th e likely on the cusp bottom, the affilia of major change. te industry is mos Large operators ha t firms, leaving an d been taking ou industry which is t m id -ti er do m in at and a large num ed by a handful ber of micro play of large operator ers. Consolidatio s affiliates will likely n on the side of continue given th those smaller at scale is becom for companies to ing increasingly absorb the increa important sed compliance attractive acquisi co sts, as well as to tion targets for become the larger affilia questions for supe tes. Consolidatio r-affiliates, while n als o raises those who contro probably best plac l their own prop ed to reap the be erties are nefits of the cons future of affiliate olidation of the m networks is less vis arket. The ible: they will eithe acquisition of sm r have to play a ro aller affiliates or le in the risk losing signific ant market share.
Getting Ahead of the Problem “Our main concern right now is addressing all the new laws and regulations that have and are coming into place in the gaming industry across the globe. We feel instead of waiting for something to happen, we would rather address these issues as a whole to be ahead of any problems that could arise in the future. We are focusing on many countries at the moment and are ensuring that we, our affiliates as well as the casinos we work with are fully compliant. The major trend for us at the moment is the Pay ‘n Play online casinos, where we are seeing revolutionary growth. This means no more messy accounts, terrible wagering requirements and withdrawals that take long. Trustly’s Pay ‘n Play offers a chance for affiliates and players to benefit from fast withdrawals, quick and easy registrations and so much more.” Dennis Dyhr-Hansen CEO of Matching Visions
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Finding the Right Partners
“Affiliates are still a key driver of business, especially in markets where affiliates still dominate the SEO acquisition channel. We are extremely data driven in our marketing efforts and are constantly monitoring investments and expected results. If an affiliate starts charging too high a price for their traffic, we eventually need to stop working with them. While there are less mature operators out there paying for it now, I don’t think that will be the case in the future. Eventually, all companies need to focus on their ROI the same way as we do. Today, we are also running a more extensive due diligence on affiliates who sign-up to our programme. That means that our focus is on finding reliable partners as we don’t want to spend time and money on the wrong ones.” Remko de Boer Acting Head of Affiliates at LeoVegas
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Interview Ebba Arnred, CMO of Play’n GO
The Games Developer
Creativity Trumps Technology
There is a danger of looking at technology for technology’s sake, says Ebba Arnred, CMO of game developer Play’n GO. While VR, AR and DLT solutions are touted as the next big thing in gaming, she believes creativity is more important than technology. Can you tell us a bit about Play’n GO and your offices in Malta?
We opened our Malta office in 2014. At this time, Malta had already become a strong iGaming hub, and we felt the need to be closer to our customers. Before that we had flown in from Sweden quite regularly to see clients, so a move to Malta also made sense logistically. Today, we have around 80 people in the Malta office and 400 in the company in total. In addition to Malta, we also have offices in Växjö (Sweden), London, Budapest and Manila. As a company, we are dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what’s expected from us. There is a non-stop demand for creativity in our industry and this drives us and fuels our ambition to be the best. It’s been full-go for over a decade now, and we like it like that.
You have an impressive portfolio, what other services are you offering to the industry?
We currently have around 150 games in our portfolio, but that number is constantly growing, as we are launching around 40 new games per year. While we are a games development organisation at heart, we also offer a casino platform and other back-office services. Our platform allows operators to integrate other third-party game providers, business intelligence solutions as well as localised payment options. Our multi-channel, serverbased gaming solution OMNY allows players to enjoy our games with the same high quality, regardless of where, or how, they play.
What are players looking for in a game today and what’s your hit rate?
We always push the limits in whatever we do, especially on the mobile front. While not every game makes it into the top 10, we don’t have games that are not performing. The focus for our games is very much on their quality. The founders of Play’n GO have a background in the video gaming industry, and from the very start of Play’n GO, our vision was to produce top quality games
with outstanding graphics and animations. This is something players have always appreciated, and which is still a huge factor in their gaming choices today. The immediate success of a game upon its release depends on many factors, including the theme, math model and even the time of year it is released. But more than anything else, a good game needs to be entertaining, so we always add a bit of ‘Play’n GO spice’.
How long does it take to develop a game?
The game development process has become increasingly complicated in recent years due mainly to an increase in regulations. These days, we need a lead-time of 6 to 12 months, depending on both the complexity of the game and the number of markets we would seek to get it certified in. While this can seem like a long time for one title, we are more concerned with making sure we are releasing the best quality products rather than getting them out of the door quickly.
Has the life span of a game changed in recent years and how is this affecting your business as a technology company?
I would say that the life cycle of a game is actually longer today than it was a few years ago. There are two reasons for that. One is that we are truly a games provider for the whole world, and games can have different life cycles depending on the market and strategy of the operator. For instance, operators targeting the Scandinavian region are very time-conscious and competitive. For them it is very important to be able to offer a game the same day it is launched; while this is not the case for clients from other regions, who might include a new game into their portfolio a few weeks after its launch, when it fits in with their market strategy. Today, we also operate on many different platforms; not only mobile and desktop, but we are also supplying games to landbased operators, which means we have a wider client base, which ultimately extends the life span of our games.
Do you see IP brands gaining in importance?
We haven’t really gone down that route. We have one character in our portfolio, the 1990s cartoon TV troll Hugo. Thus far, we developed three games around him, and while they were all successful, I don’t think IP brands will play a bigger role in the future of Play’n GO. For example, with our slot House of Doom, rather than relying on the IP of an artist and repurposing their back catalogue, we worked with the band Candlemass to create a game based on a brand-new song, which also served as an official single. We like to realise our own ideas and be free in our creative process, which IPs don’t always allow you to do.
Are VR and AR technologies part of your strategy for the future?
We always keep abreast of new technologies. We were the first online game developer to move into the mobile arena – way before the advent of the smart phone. However, the situation with VR and AR is different. VR has been around for quite some time now, and it still hasn’t broken into the market. While we are keeping an eye on VR developments, we are not yet actively pursuing any VR projects. AR, on the other hand, could become interesting for us if the technology continues to mature. I don’t think AR will radically change our industry; it will be just another channel that players can access via an AR application on mobile devices or desktops. Any move we make will be carefully considered for the benefit of ourselves and the industry, rather than just hopping on the latest technology for the sake of it.
What are your expectations for the future of the games development industry?
We are already seeing a lot of consolidation, while, at the same time, there are many innovative and creative game developers out there who are keen to break into the industry. It is a tough environment for start-ups; and young entrepreneurs need to have deep pockets to fund the development of a new game given the increased regulatory and compliance requirements of the modern industry. Our own operations are the best example for this; not long ago, we had just one person working part-time on compliance issues, now we have an entire department. While we favour regulation, as an industry we have to be mindful not to stifle innovation with too many constraints. I also think we have to be more open to new forms of collaboration, whereby start-ups join forces with larger operators.
In your opinion, what other key trends will affect the games development industry in the coming years?
We believe, as we always have, that the biggest trend is still the development of mobile gaming. Just as players moved from a land-based setting to personal computers, they are now moving from personal computers to personal devices. Last year a worldwide survey showed that 10% of the mobile users questioned listed online gambling as the primary use for their phone, and the number of people who use their mobile phone for gambling, whether as their primary activity or not, is rapidly increasing. The growth of mobile gaming still has a hugely significant part to play in the industry’s future. This also feeds
into the modern player’s expectations of getting the same gaming experience no matter what channel they are playing through. Be it mobile, desktop or any local or major casino, players now expect a top-class entertainment experience across any medium, making multi-channel capabilities a must.
What impact does the rise of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies have on your business?
I think the more pertinent question is its effect on the industry as a whole. Of course, we’ve seen the use of cryptocurrency within the industry already, but it brings both benefits and drawbacks. The biggest advantages are the security transactions provide, and also the transparency it would give to players, reassuring them that whoever they choose to play with is an honest and fair operator. This could ultimately generate an increase in new players and player retention, which would be a positive for the industry. However, the anonymity it can provide could fall afoul of regulations at some point. That, along with some of the noted instances of hacking which is affecting the value of currencies, make it a less viable proposition. I think it is a cloudy issue at the moment and, until it becomes clearer it’s not going to have a major affect.
Play’n GO has enjoyed great success. Where do you want to go from here?
We believe that a key reason for our success was that we have remained an agile organisation, which can easily adapt to market changes. We want this to remain the case for the foreseeable future. We are now future-proofing our organisation, and we believe the best way to do this is by continuing building on our tech foundation and hiring the best and most creative people in the industry. n
Ebba Arnred started her iGaming career nearly 20 years ago as a Key Account Manager. Before joining Play’n GO, she also enjoyed a successful career as Head of Operations at an online game development company. In 2007, she joined Play’n GO as Head of Marketing and CRM. In 2015, Ebba was appointed CMO and went on to win the Leader of the Year at the Women in Gaming Awards.
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
How do you see distributed ledger technology having an immediate impact on an iGaming company’s business?
The iGaming sector has over the past year or two predominately looked at how to use cryptos rather than coming up with innovative ideas of how to exploit blockchain technologies. There is a plethora of applicable uses for iGaming businesses, some of which are available on the market, such as KYC and Identity Management solutions which use the blockchain to aggregate KYC documents from various sources, including gaming operators, while having the players maintaining control on who to share their due diligence data with. This provides a quicker route for player registration and verification. Gaining ground in popularity are blockchain based RNGs which provide players and regulators with increased transparency, as for instance the provision of RTP ratios on a live basis, which would be an enabler for player retention or acquisition on the basis of leveraging a badge of transparency, fairness and trust. In the near future, we will see smart contracts becoming an essential element in the relationship between gaming operators and affiliates, as the nature of the affiliate-operator relationship lends itself very well for smart contract applicability, such as automating payment obligations for pay per acquisition but especially for revenue share models.
Director of Caledo
Definitely! I am aware of three regulators that are currently experimenting with DLT applicability, including how to automate compliance and monitoring. In this sense the MGA is leading the way through its sandbox project. It makes more sense for a regulator to mandate operators adopt blockchain for secure, immutable and traceable forensic data, such as gaming transaction logs, financial transaction logs and player activity logs, rather than rely on today’s architectural set-ups.
Reuben Portanier, Director of Caledo, a DLT, legal and tech advisory firm, shares his thoughts on the application of blockchain in the iGaming industry.
Reuben Portanier is the co-founding partner of Afilexion Alliance, one of Malta’s foremost gaming advisory firms, while together with Dr Ian Gauci and Dr Abdalla Kablan co-founded Caledo, a DLT/Blockchain/VFA advisory firm based in Malta. Reuben is the 2018 iGaming Idol Consultant of the Year and a former CEO of the Malta Gaming Authority.
Would you agree that blockchain can be a regulator’s dream come true?
Looking to the future, how do you see the gaming industry mostly benefit from blockchain?
One of the operators’ biggest headaches is how to cope with multijurisdictional licence compliance. As time goes by, jurisdictions are forking out specific requirements rather than converging, making multi-jurisdictional compliance a nightmare. The use of DLT may be a solution to alleviate this issue, particularly if regulators agree to create a blockchain-based platform where operators’ data and documents can be shared with the operator’s consent to really implement the ‘non-duplication of controls’ principle. Notwithstanding that we have multiple national licensing systems, regulators are starting to understand that if they do not allow and widen multi-jurisdictional liquidity, their national markets will struggle to remain viable. Through the use of distributed ledger technologies, shared multi-jurisdictional liquidity will become even more possible as regulators would have a far more transparent view of what is happening. In this case, blockchain would be an enabler for the regulators to widen shared liquidity Europe-wide. If we add on smart contracts to this multijurisdictional liquidity, each country would be able to collect its share of gaming taxes in an automated fashion! On the predictions markets area, in the future we could see the removal of centralised structures and a newly found transparency that can create new markets and achieve new accuracy levels. In responsible gaming we could easily see a European centralised self-exclusion register if this was politically agreed upon. We will need to see how these will evolve also in context of the advancements in other technologies too, particularly AI and IoT. n
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GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
What product, service or technology do you believe will have the greatest impact on your business and the iGaming industry in 2019 and beyond?
In 2018, we have seen “no account” casinos and “live” products gain considerable momentum. This is about customers wanting to get to the play as soon as possible. I think customers will continue to want to spend a greater proportion of their time on “play” and will demand more and more engaging products.
The industry has been attracting increased attention and scrutiny with operators facing a relentless escalation in fines and penalties. How should the industry move from here to show that it is serious about tackling issues such as player protection, compliance and anti-money laundering issues?
CEO of Jackpotjoy Group
United we Stand, Divided we Fall
Simon Wykes, CEO of the Jackpotjoy Group, shares his thoughts on new product trends, player protection and operating across markets.
Simon Wykes has been CEO of Jackpotjoy Group since November 1, 2017. He was previously CEO at Gala Leisure and Managing Director at Gala Coral Group, and has completed an external consultancy role with Ladbrokes Coral on their merger integration plans. He also worked for Mecca Bingo, Leisure Parcs, Gala Group and First Leisure.
I have been involved in the gaming sector for over 25 years, and I have always considered myself to be in a leisure or entertainment role. Somehow, in the last few years, aggressive acquisition marketing, concerns over theoretical losses, and a belief that more people are having gaming problems, mean that the industry is no longer classified as entertainment and is now considered a “sin” industry. Nobody in the industry wants children to play or customers to spend beyond their means. The industry needs to agree how realistically this can be achieved and then communicate it. However, while there is a competitive advantage to be gained from one company interpreting responsible gaming differently than another, it will be difficult to deliver. Whether it’s possible for that to be done by the industry itself or whether it needs regulatory intervention is a moot point. At Jackpotjoy we are firmly at the “responsible” end of the spectrum. We still have the same challenge of persuading customers to provide us with intimate, personal information to allow them to remain our customers. This usually only happens when the supplier is providing a product and bearing the risk, for example a mortgage. I can’t imagine my local football club asking me to prove that I can afford our family season tickets.
The iGaming industry has been enjoying a period of rapid growth. What are the major challenges you are facing and how are you dealing with them?
Globalisation is alive and well but when you get down to actually trying to run businesses in different countries, you realise just how local the world still is. “McLocalisation”, as it’s known, is the biggest challenge to our mission of bringing the Jackpotjoy winning feeling to the world. Building flexibility into the organisation with regard to talent, technology and marketing is the best way to address it.
Gold Rush Fever G
lobally, almost 90 countries have legalised online gambling, with many more expected to follow suit in 2019. While the opening up of new markets is bringing greater opportunities, including the potential to increase turnover and industry profits as a whole, companies are also facing challenges in managing geographically diverse markets and complex operations. Europe continues to consolidate its regulatory advance across member states, with Denmark, Romania and the Czech Republic all having introduced regulated gambling in recent years. By far the most anticipated market opening has been Sweden’s announcement to introduce regulated gambling in January 2019. With the Nordics being one of the most profitable markets for iGaming companies, Sweden’s licensing round has attracted the attention of every major operator. The opening of the US market sparked a gold rush fever amongst European operators to get a foothold in what is expected to be one of the largest online gambling markets in the world. Companies are betting big on future growth in the US, with firms who inked early deals in anticipation of the repeal of PASPA being uniquely positioned to exploit their first mover advantage. Many others are now following their lead and accelerating their
international growth plans to get a foothold in this lucrative market. Many within the iGaming industry have set their sights on the growing Latin American iGaming industry. With a population of more than half a billion people combined, Latin America is a virtually untapped resource with massive potential. Africa is another region that looks hugely enticing for operators. With some 70% mobile penetration across the continent, and a market of almost a billion people, iGaming operators have just started to gain traction in a prospective new boom-market. However, many warn that the market can become saturated much faster than most expect and that the best time to look at Africa is now. The Asian market is by far the sleeping giant of the iGaming industry, being one of the most populated regions and home to some of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies. Despite their cultural affinity to gambling, many countries have imposed restrictions and crackdowns on gambling operations, which has led to a very fractured market that has proven difficult to navigate. While the region does offer opportunities, the real dawn for online gambling will not come until countries such as China, Japan and India move towards a regulated environment.
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Russell Mifsud, Associate Director & Head of Gaming at KPMG Malta
Merger Mania and The Kings of iGaming Russell Mifsud of KPMG Malta talks about the changing nature of M&A deals, the US market opportunity and the next hot acquisition targets.
Whatâ€™s driving Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) in the iGaming industry at the moment?
The iGaming industry is experiencing structural changes. Operational costs are rising due to increased compliance costs, higher taxes, new licensing regimes and the like, which are squeezing margins for operators and fuelling M&A activity. I do believe that Swedenâ€™s new licensing regime, which requires operators to pay 18% tax on gross gaming revenue, will lead to an increase in deal-making activity as many smaller operators may struggle to shoulder the consequences of the new legislation. The planned restriction on reload bonuses and loyalty credits within a market that is considered to have relatively low levels of player loyalty and a high player churn rate will also likely spur on deals with entities that can leverage traditional game mechanics in line with the new legislation. We are also seeing big UK-facing and UK-based operators looking at acquisitions as part of their Brexit contingency plans in order to tap into new markets that have historically been more difficult to penetrate successfully. The recent announcement about William Hill acquiring Mr Green may be the beginning of a trend. We are also seeing a wealth of land-based gaming operators seeking to broaden their offering into the online gaming space, whether it is to close in on the knowledge gap between land-based and online or as a means of allowing themselves to hit the ground running in a newly regulated market alongside a digital offering.
What type of companies are hot acquisition targets?
Traditionally, we have seen larger operators acquiring other, mostly smaller operators, while affiliates used to acquire other affiliates. This model has further evolved and broadened: operators are acquiring affiliates to capitalise on the value chain and maintain an element of control and vice versa, which has given rise to a number of large gaming groups with a very diverse portfolio. In recent years, we have also seen operators buying and investing in smaller tech companies to help them develop insight on the user journey and UX in order to be a step ahead of the game and to capitalise on heightened player engagement techniques. These tech companies might be active in various industries and are not necessarily linked to gaming, but they offer solutions that could be transferred and implemented in a gaming environment, similar to that of e-commerce. I believe that this is a development that we will continue to witness. The industry is swaying towards automation and is striving to optimise processes in order to broaden the ever-shrinking margins and maintain an element of control in light of hefty fines being waved at operatorsâ€™ assumed shortfalls. Technology plays an important role in achieving just that. I believe innovative tech companies will remain hot acquisition targets for the foreseeable future especially oscillating around compliance requirements and potential automation of repetitive tasks. Savvy tech companies in the DLT space are also bringing about new waves of innovation. Entities that can integrate a
blockchain solution that offers a true benefit to the end user, will be planting new seeds of imagination in the eyes of potential acquirers, whereby an operator may be able to raise their head above the water in a sophisticated and cutting-edge manner.
How would you describe the nature of the current deals?
The nature of the deal space has definitely evolved. Rather than outright buy-outs, we are now seeing more buy-ins. There is a desire to retain proven top management and the founders within the organisation, as their skills and experience are being seen as valuable assets in growing the company further and taking it to the next level. Another noticeable trend is the emergence of start-ups with deep pockets that are looking at acquisitions to grow and scale fast in the hope of establishing a brand in their target markets and going for an IPO. The spectrum of deals and manners in which to structure a deal has become more open and flexible.
“There is a desire to retain proven top management and the founders within the organisation, as their skills and experience are being seen as valuable assets in growing the company further and taking it to the next level.”
The US has opened up its sportsbetting market. Do you think this will impact M&A activity?
I think the US is the market to watch in the next 12-48 months. Recently, we have seen bet365 buy up $50 million of Empire Resorts shares in New York, making them Empire’s second largest shareholder. We have seen and will continue to see some European-based iGaming companies getting close to the US giants, such as William Hill, GiG and Kindred through joint ventures. In 2018, we have also witnessed PaddypowerBetfair acquire Fanduel and Draft Kings shift part of its DFS focus in the US to sportsbook in New Jersey. Nonetheless, I suspect that the majority of significant deals that are on the horizon will primarily stem from the USbased operators themselves rather than vice versa. Even some of the largest European companies are considered small compared to the conglomerates that are dominating the land-based gaming sector in the US, which is showing an interest in iGaming and looking to arm itself with the know-how for the next wave of legislation that is expected to come into play in the US. In terms of iGaming, US companies are facing a knowledge gap. For them acquiring a European company would be a great
Russell Mifsud is an Economist and Associate Director at KPMG, who specialises in the iGaming industry. Russell provides insight on the industry and commercial strategy for KPMG and its clientele across the board. He also helps lead a core group of professionals who specialise in gaming within the KPMG network globally.
opportunity to gain experience in operating in an online regulated environment in preparation for the wider opening of the US market. Perhaps one trend we may see is further consolidation in Europe, whereby the mid-tier EU-based operators merge with one another in order to become a sizeable head turner for the US heavyweights in the years to come.
What’s your outlook for the coming 18 to 24 months?
There are more taxes and regulations being rolled out across Europe, so benefitting from economies of scale remains key, as well as trying to capture emerging and grey markets. I suspect that this will continue to be a likely strategy. I expect the current pace of M&A activity from UK-based operators to continue as a result of Brexit as operators will also have to act quickly to develop a contingency plan. I also believe that we are to see a fair amount of consolidation amongst the Nordic operators as it will be more difficult for the existing operators to be able to survive and thrive under the new conditions. Overall, I’m expecting 2019 to be another exciting year within the deals space. n
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
A New Wave of Product Improvements T
he iGaming industry is seeing a renewed focus on product enhancement. Some 70% of all online gambling is today taking place on mobile devices, and mobile has by far become the dominant distribution channel. With wearable devices being added to the mix, a host of new avenues will open up for operators to present their products. Netflix is inspiring iGaming executives’ drive to emulate the ability to personalise content, promotions and offerings. The runaway success of the No Account Casino is proof that product enhancements to players’ pain points can have a major impact. The key to the success of this product is the BankID, which is a personal electronic identification issued through Swedish banks that allows online gaming companies to authenticate a player’s identity. Meanwhile, live casino continues to turn in great growth figures and is gaining ever more importance. Having watched esports from the side-lines for a number of years, most operators are now adding it to their portfolio. A timeless classic, bingo appears to be the one game that never goes out of fashion. Bingo is increasingly attracting a younger audience while more mature players are switching to online sites as they grow in confidence with the technology. The big news in the world of poker is the willingness of large countries to allow shared liquidity pools across markets. Lotteries have been one of those products that have been gaining traction in terms of player appeal and product innovation. But despite its universal appeal to players, not all countries are quite sure the competition to their national lottery operators is so welcome. Advances in artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies are opening up a whole new landscape for sportsbook operators to develop new products and realtime betting markets. Online slots retain their top ranking as one of players’ favourite. With an endless portfolio of games being offered, personalisation is becoming ever more important. To maintain its top position, elements of skill and interactive play are being introduced to keep the games generationally relevant for younger players. Social
gaming continues to attract the attention of operators as a way to extend their reach and attract a whole new audience of players on social media. A nice-to-have, more online operators are adding Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) to their product line-up, while virtual sports betting has proven to be a very successful filler product for operators wanting to offer their clients betting opportunities between game cycles and live events.
The Rise of Esports Sold-out stadiums, an infusion of venture capital and mainstream media coverage have helped propel esports, as well as the betting on esports, to even greater popularity. The bet on esports has paid off handsomely for the few gaming operators who have focused on this explosive growth sector, which has given operators solid revenue streams and, more importantly, a strong foothold in the elusive millennial market. Esports betting, which just a few short years ago was considered a niche or novelty by gaming operators, is now being recognised alongside mainstream sports betting markets like soccer and basketball. The expectation is that this market will continue to grow in the coming years, as more esports enthusiasts will reach the legal age to gamble. Games industry researcher Newzoo predicts that the global audience for esports will reach approximately 580 million by 2020. The demographic, overwhelmingly male, is made up largely of millennials and GenY teens, who play video games for eight hours a week on average according to a Nielsen report. The biggest esports games are Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, League of Legends and Overwatch, which also dominate the fastgrowing esports betting market. Many iGaming operators believe esports is a valuable add-on to their services, however, they say the biggest threats to the continued success of esports are match fixing and betting fraud. As the industry goes increasingly mainstream, many believe that some form of regulation is necessary for it to maintain its legitimacy.
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GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Calvin Ayre, Founder of the Ayre Group and Bodog
The Bodog is Back
The gambling and bitcoin tycoon Calvin Ayre says crypto is perfect for the gaming industry.
Bodog was one of the biggest brand names in gaming in the world. Can you explain how you got involved in the gaming industry and how Bodog was born?
I started out working for my father who was a pig farmer in Canada who gave me some of my own pigs to rear and sell. That was the first introduction into developing something tangible and putting them in the market place. I then put myself through college. In 1992, I read about Ronald Sacco, an American bookie who was operating out of the Dominican Republic and accepting wagers from the US via phone. I realised this would be a good business to take online and started designing software for offshore gaming operations. In 1996, I decided to start my own company in Costa Rica and created an online sportsbook, for which I wrote the computer code myself. I then had to think of catchy names and the brand Bodog was born.
How did you make such a success of that business?
We took the decision to market both the brand and my lifestyle rather than prices, value and bonuses for which we were laughed at initially but soon imitated as it took off. I see Paddy Power as Bodog’s awkward teenage son, but he’ll develop and start drinking red wine rather than lager at some point.
What are your favourite memories in the early days when you were just beginning?
Well, they are very fond memories now because it turned out great. Like any start-up, it was constant fire-fighting but we always felt we were onto something big. The internet was taking off but none of the businesses had a way of making money, betting had no product to deliver and made money – it was perfect for the internet.
How do you feel on closing the case with the US authorities? Relief? Anger?
Anticlimactic really, it was such a marathon, I mean it was good to get it behind me but the documents speak for themselves.
What is your view of the gaming industry at the moment? What changes in terms of trends and regulations do you see?
The most important thing is that once governments legislate, they don’t get too greedy. Kenya has upped their taxation to 35%, which will kill the industry. France went too big when they started but I understand they have realised that a growing industry is better and amended things.
In what way do you believe the iGaming industry will evolve in the next 3 to 5 years globally and in the USA in particular?
The US will, most likely, follow the same trends as in Europe and, especially, the UK, just a few years behind. So anybody in that market should be able to see what’s round the corner: in-play, mobile, political and financial betting. Use the UK from five years ago as a blueprint and you’ve got your five-year plan all mapped out.
After all you have been through with the USA, what is your view about the US’ new rules allowing online gaming sports betting?
I’m not going to get into the politics but I’m pleased they’ve decided to finally go forward with sports betting. It was kind of inevitable but somehow took forever.
How are you enjoying working with the Antigua Government as a Special Economic Envoy advising the Prime Minister on internet gaming and Bitcoin?
It’s a huge opportunity for the country, for investors and for myself. The infrastructure in Antigua is amazingly, perhaps surprisingly, strong. I am very passionate about both industries and the country I call home, so to be given the opportunity to promote all three is fantastic.
“It’s a huge opportunity for the country, for investors and for myself.”
To what extent have you invested physically, emotionally and financially in crypto currencies and why?
I’m ‘all-in’ from every angle – there’s a digital version of everything there can be: music, movies, TV. It is inevitable to me that currency will be the same. Obviously, the establishment are terrified of it, but they were the same in the music industry too and look how that ended up. In my opinion, Bitcoin BCH is the only true coin. It already scales massively compared to any other chain. It is the only fully functioning cryptocurrency in the world, and we are investing in all sides of BCH including mining, software development, marketing, merchant adoption and education.
In your opinion, what impact will crypto have on the gaming industry?
Crypto is perfect for the gaming industry and the two are interlinked – some of the early Bitcoin code is very similar to that in the gaming industry. Online gaming has also been one of the early adopters of Bitcoin BCH. At the end of the day it’s a payment solution but one that suits both sides, merchant and customer, because it has the lowest transaction fees of any solution out there – on average around $0.02.
Calvin Ayre is a Canadian billionaire who founded Bodog, an online gambling business in 2000. Ayre’s fortune got him on the cover of Forbes magazine’s annual Billionaires edition in 2006. Six years later the US Attorney for Maryland charged him with illegal gambling and money laundering. Calvin pled guilty to a single misdemeanor in 2017 and the USA dropped the other charges against him. In August 2017, Ayre became an Economic Envoy for Antigua and Barbuda, where he currently lives. His recent projects are cryptocurrency and building a resort in Antigua. He is known for throwing large parties and having many girlfriends.
What’s your insight into the growth prospects of the gaming industry and why should investors have online gaming in their portfolio?
In short, people have been betting since the dawn of time, couple that with the fact that live events and sports are a huge growth industry. Who watches a match without having a bet? Man, that would be dull.
What’s your opinion on emerging gaming segments such as esports and DFS?
Esports is great and brings another market to bet on but it is just that – another market like tennis or football – something else to bet on. DFS really only works in countries where sports betting is banned – it’s a loophole really. All the big DFS players in the US are now looking to offer sports betting. n
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
esponsible gambling an d player protection ha ve never been higher on the agend a of iGaming operator s, regulators and policy-makers. To ols such as deposit an d loss limits, selfexclusion and website blocking, have long bee n made available to players, while operator s have technologies an d systems in place to analyse behavioural data and identify proble m gamblers. The industry has sought to improve the tools and measures it has in place in recent years, but whatâ€™s also true is that the sector at large is still falling sho rt of effectively providing adequate player protection. The techn ology, tools and know -how to identify people who might be at risk of gambling harm are well advanced, and companies have no excuse not to detect pro blem gamblers.
Next Generation Player Protection Tools
“The iGaming industry is doing a lot in terms of player protection, and many reputable companies are taking Responsible Gaming and compliance extremely seriously. For example, our platform for responsible Gaming LeoSafePlay is a great foundation for building next generation tools to identify problem gamblers. I believe that the industry’s combined efforts will improve the industry’s reputation over time. We see our work in sustainable growth and investment in a regulated environment as a big competitive advantage. The fast that Sweden is becoming a regulated market is a milestone for Sweden, the industry and LeoVegas. We submitted our application for a casino and a sportsbetting licence to the Swedish regulator, and we hope that the new regulation will help eliminate companies in the Swedish market that do not follow the highest player protection standards.” Gustaf Hagman CEO of LeoVegas
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A Sensible Approach to Responsible Gaming
“The question remains how to deal with players that have or appear to have a gambling problem. European gaming regulators have approached this problem differently. Some regulators demand that we close a player’s account should we believe he or she has a gambling addiction, while others want us to actively engage in a dialogue with the player about his or her gambling habits. No regulation requires us to keep an account open, however, they want that players to set their own limits or self-exclude, otherwise they will just take the problem to another operator, and it might take time for that operator to identify the issue. In my opinion, this is how we as an industry should go about it. I think the industry needs to come together and adopt best practice. We are taking player protection, as well as all the other regulations that we have to comply with, very seriously. 2018 was an important year in this regard, and we have significantly ramped up our compliance function, especially in terms of our new obligations under the AML Directive and GDPR. I would like to see this evolve into two-way communication. A prime example of this is when we report suspicious transactions; we rarely receive feedback on the outcome of the investigation. However, such knowledge would help us to decide if we want to continue doing business with that customer.” Alexander Stevendahl CEO of Videoslots
nal e regulators run natio It is positive that som is yer pla a gamblers. If databases of problem on ati istr reg gambler, their registered as a problem t pany licensed by tha com ng with any iGami is Th ed. lin atically be dec regulator will autom ich med by the industry, wh lco we approach is very ies ntr cou er adopted in oth would like to see it s. tor ula reg en sharing betwe too, with information r ive del to s tor ying on regula However, instead of rel its of rge cha should take solutions, the industry tor look to the banking sec ld cou own destiny. They ng ari -sh on ati up an inform for inspiration and set ned ow ermb SWIFT, a me company, similar to er world’s leading provid the cooperative and a ch Su es. vic ssaging ser of secure financial me ich wh , on ati player inform company could hold erators that have signed op h wit could be shared of the ar will from the CEOs up to it. There is a cle now is k tas e together, the major operators to com to find a way. ng t should be catchi A development tha of er mb nu g the increasin operators attention is ly on t no are ies ere compan cases across the world wh rs, ble gam m ntifying proble being fined for not ide t to return the money tha ced for but are also being s tor ula reg d an yers. Courts had been lost by the pla ieve with gamblers who bel ing sid are increasingly ve ha y the t tha led to identify that operators have fai a genuine problem.
The Industry Needs to Agree on the Best Way Forward
“Getting fines and penalties is not the same as stating the industry is not serious about player protection. Ironically while getting high fines, the industry has never been more serious and professional. For every fine there is a mistake, for every mistake there are thousands of cases where we did the work. Having said that, we as an industry – and Mr Green as a company – still have more to learn and to improve. We are far from perfect, but compared to a couple of years ago the industry is really focusing on this. So, I would say that we are on the right path, moving forward we need to agree on the best way to offer support in a relevant way. This to me is about KYC, it is about the individual and requires individual solutions. The misunderstanding that advertising drives problematic gambling is another industry challenge we must face. Again, it is about the individual, and therefore we focus on building smart digital tools capable of supporting our players on an individual basis. Going forward, I also believe that the industry’s unsustainable business model of high churn and new customer acquisition based on having the product on constant sale via bonuses and free spins is something we need to address over time.” Jesper Kärrbrink CEO of Mr Green
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Simplicity Malta’s gaming industry is embracing technological disruption, while, at the same time, driving global change with new regulatory standards.
alta has garnered a reputation as the capital of the global iGaming industry. The presence of over 280 iGaming companies is proving a unique draw for platform providers, game developers, payment services, support firms, start-ups and tech investors, who are joining Malta’s thriving iGaming ecosystem. To meet the future needs of this evolving industry, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has launched a brand new and comprehensive suite of regulation and legislation that better responds to emerging technologies and new forms of gaming. Cryptocurrencies, blockchain applications and Distributed Ledger Technologies all from part this new business model. While the MGA has long been a protagonist of innovation, rigorous regulatory oversight, including measures to combat money laundering, as well as the prevention of crime and gambling addiction, remain at the top of the authority’s agenda.
Malta Gaming Authority Building SCM 02-03, Level 4, SmartCity Malta, Ricasoli SCM1001, Malta Tel: +356 2546 9000
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Home of Gaming
Innovation and Regulation
The island is the birthplace of regulated online gaming being the first EU country to license iGaming in the early 2000s and introducing a dedicated regulatory framework for the industry. Today, Malta serves as the backbone of the industry, attracting the largest gaming operators and suppliers, as well as some of the most innovative start-ups. Some of the most instantly recognisable brands in the gaming world have set up in Malta: Betsson, Paddy Power Betfair, Interwetten, Kindred, Mr Green, Tipico, LeoVegas and Videoslots are some of the companies that have a strong presence on the island. But it is not just the major gaming companies that have been beating a path to Malta, following in their footsteps have been all the leading B2B suppliers and service providers. Today Malta offers a thriving gaming ecosystem, where gaming companies can find everything and everyone they need to do business with.
Despite all the success, Malta realised that it would need to continue to evolve if it wants to remain relevant as a jurisdiction. The iGaming industry is today facing technological disruption and change like never before. The maturing industry demanded smoother processes, as well as regulation for new activities. Hence, the MGA initiated a process to develop next generation legislation. The new Gaming Act is widely seen as having raised the industry’s standards to a whole new level. The framework empowers the Authority to be more agile in its decision-making, enhances consumer protection standards and responsible gaming measures, while promoting a risk-based approach towards regulation. It also provides the MGA with wider powers in the fields of compliance and enforcement, in line with Anti-Money Laundering and funding of terrorism obligations, which are on top of the MGA’s priority list. According to Heathcliff Farrugia, CEO of the MGA, the regulator has embarked on a major outreach campaign to its fellow regulators and law enforcement agencies around the world in order to collaborate closer and share best practice on how to approach some of the global threats and risks in the areas of anti-money laundering, know your customer (KYC), fraud, tax and business due diligence. In its work, the MGA has adopted a very transparent approach and is sending a very clear message that if you have something to hide, do not come to Malta.
Karl Brincat Peplow
CHIEF OFFICER FINANCE & PROGRAMME MANAGEMENT
CHIEF OFFICER enforcement
head of human resources & corporate affairs
interim CHIEF OFFICER regulatory
Driving Forward The MGA believes that regulators should not be afraid of disruptive technologies, such as blockchain and cryptocurrencies, but rather see them as an opportunity to improve regulatory efficiency. The MGA joined Malta’s drive to regulate disruptive innovations and launched a sandbox framework for cryptocurrency usage within the gaming industry. Armed with new regulations, the MGA will continue to work with thought-leaders and global innovators to create the right conditions for gaming companies to flourish, while advocating open communication between stakeholders to drive the industry forward.
YOUR YOUR INDUSTRY INDUSTRY NEEDS NEEDS YOU! YOU! WHY SHOULD I JOIN? WHY SHOULD I JOIN? • •• • • •
More members, stronger voice More stronger voice Voice members, your opinions on matters Voiceaffect your you opinions on matters that that affect you You’ll be part of a lobby group You’ll be part your of a lobby that defends rights.group that defends your rights.
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The council listens and presents The councilfront. listens and presents a common a common Keep up to front. date with news and Keep up to date with news and events. events. Be part of a discussion forum. Be part of a discussion forum.
• • • •
Remain aware of local Remain aware of local legislation. legislation. Help promote fair gaming and Help fair gaming and buildpromote credibility. build credibility.
The Malta Remote Gaming Council launched in March 2005 and has continued to grow throughout the years. The The Malta Remote Council launched in MarchGaming 2005 and has continued grow throughout years. The MRGC is made up Gaming of all stakeholders in the Remote Industry includingtolicensed operators,the data carriers, MRGC made up of all stakeholders in theservice Remote Gaming The Industry including licensed operators, data carriers, internetis service providers and professional providers. Council serves as an ongoing discussion forum, internetvaluable service providers andthe professional providers. Council serves anlatest ongoing discussion forum, giving feedback to Authority service and enabling it toThe keep abreast withasthe developments in the giving valuable feedback to the Authority and enabling it to keep abreast with the latest developments in the industry. The Council has achieved many milestones during it’s existence and continues to work to better serve the industry. The Council has achieved many milestones during it’s existence and continues to work to better serve the local gaming community. local gaming community. The Malta Remote Gaming Council The Malta Remote Gaming Council Tower Business Center, Tower Street, Swatar BKR2013,Center, Malta Tower - EU Street, Tower Business Swatar BKR2013, Malta - EU
THERules Key Things you Need to Know about Malta’s Gaming Regime In 2018, Malta introduced what is being referred to as next generation legislation to provide iGaming operators with a smoother licensing process and regulation that can better cater for new forms of games and innovation in the gaming industry.
1. One for All
2. Keeping it Simple
There is only one law that everyone in gaming in Malta needs to be aware of: The Gaming Act. It regulates all gaming services in Malta – online and landbased. However, it is complemented with subsidiary legislation covering the main areas of regulation, as well as a series of directives, codes and guidelines, which can be amended from time to time, ensuring that the law responds to technological advancements and innovation.
The MGA has replaced the previous multi-licence system with a two-licence system – a businessto-consumer (B2C) licence and a business-tobusiness licence (B2B) – covering different types of activities across multiple distribution channels. A second tier of approvals addresses the systems, game types and channels used under one licence. Prior approval is only required when the change or addition significantly changes the operation, such as the addition of a new game vertical which may change the risk profile of the operation.
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THERules 3. How do I apply? The MGA operates a Licensee Relationship Management System (LRMS) through which companies can apply for a gaming licence. The LRMS provides a dedicated dashboard that will give users the possibility to follow the status of their requests in real-time, ensuring efficiency and transparency. Applicants should acquire knowledge of the regulations and ascertain themselves whether they are committed to complying with the high standards. The implications of operating a Maltese licence - such as taxation, human resources, operating costs and legal implications to name but a few should also be taken into consideration. In the application stage the MGA assesses whether an applicant: 1. Is fit and proper to conduct gaming business. 2. Is correctly prepared from a business strategy perspective. 3. Has the operational and statutory requirements to meet the obligations prescribed by law and policy. 4. Has correctly implemented what has been applied for on a technical environment before going live.
4. A Longer Runway Licences issued by the MGA are no longer limited to a 5-year period; the licence term has been extended up to 10 years. The regulations also provide for a licence with limited duration, leaving the term open for the Malta Gaming Authority to establish the gaming activities thereunder.
The final piece of the puzzle.
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THERules 5. It’s all about the Risk
8. Who’s in Charge?
The MGA classifies operators in different risk categories and supervises them accordingly. This risk-based approach to regulation means that the level of compliance checks can vary depending on the categories of games and the risk they pose to consumer protection and to the integrity of the operation.
The MGA wants to vet the power brokers in your organisation, and operators need to inform the MGA who is in charge of key functions and filling roles such as CEO, CTO, CMO, Chief Legal Officer, Chief Compliance Officer and AntiMoney Laundering Reporting Officer. The professionals also need to prove their competence through certification, relevant experience and continuing professional development. Persons holding these positions are required to have a sound understanding and knowledge of their obligations, as well as gaming operations compliance methodologies.
6. Pay where You Earn All operators need to pay gaming tax amounting to 5% of the Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) generated from customers located in Malta. This shift to a ‘point of consumption’ model means gaming operators are required to pay tax in Malta only on revenue from Maltese customers, while they need to pay the point of consumption tax in other markets where they operate. B2B operators are exempt from tax, hence are only paying the annual licence fee.
7. Licence and Compliance Fees Gaming operators need to pay a fixed licence fee of €25,000 annually, together with a compliance contribution fee added to the fixed fee calculated on gaming revenue generated. The variable component of the compliance contribution includes a minimum payable fee of €15,000 or €25,000 (€5,000 for skill games), as well as a maximum capping of either €375,000, €500,000 or €600,000, depending on the type of games offered. The variable compliance contribution fee is payable monthly. Game providers are also subject to a yearly licence fee ranging between €25,000 and €35,000, depending on the revenue generated by the provider. Providers of backend services, or a control system whereby essential regulatory data is captured, stored or otherwise processed, are subject to a fee ranging between €3,000 and €5,000 annually.
9. Three is the Magic Number The regulatory framework covers three different categories of games: games of chance, games of chance and skill, as well as skill games. The MGA says that shifting from a prescriptive approach to one based more on regulatory objectives and principles makes it easier to deal with innovation in the gaming sector, as it gives the MGA the ability to license new types of products that might come to market without the need to amend the law.
10. Not for Profit Non-profit games, limited commercial communication games and commercial communication games are classified as Low Risk Games. Rather than requiring a licence, such games are required to acquire a Low Risk Games Permit and are exempt from paying gaming tax.
THERules 11. A Different Kettle of Fish Malta has recognised that several games, including fantasy sports, vary substantially both from pure skill games such as chess and also from games of chance. The law embodies this approach and regulates skill games.
12. Regulatory Teeth The new law gives the MGA extended monitoring and enforcement powers. There is greater emphasis placed on on-going and transparent access by the MGA to operators’ data, while a compliance review process has been introduced for cases of reported or suspected breach of laws, or on an adhoc basis when required. New reporting procedures with respect to suspicious transactions are introduced in line with the latest Anti-Money-Laundering laws.
13. Name and Shame The MGA has the power to issue a list of non-compliant operators who can then clarify and/or address any shortcomings in order to be removed from the list. This is aimed at ensuring that players are aware of noncompliant operators and the risk that may be incurred when making use of their services.
14. Losing your Licence The MGA can suspend or cancel a licence for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to: cases where the licensee is convicted in any country of an offence which is punishable by imprisonment; the licensee fails to comply with a material term or condition of the licence, fails to pay taxes and other fees or is insolvent; fails to meet commitments to players; has obtained the gaming licence by providing false or misleading information or is in breach of the laws or regulations for the prevention of money laundering.
15. The Last Resort Malta’s Gaming Act also includes the concept of administration to protect operations and player funds should a licence need to be suspended. The MGA can appoint an administrator to manage the company and, if necessary, assist in winding down the operation. This concept is widely used in the financial services sector and has now been extended into gaming services.
16. I don’t Agree Operators can appeal and challenge any decision of the MGA, which they deem to be wrong or unfair. This ‘administrative review procedure’ highlights the MGA’s commitment to render the regulator more accountable, while improving transparency in the way it conducts its regulatory function.
17. Grouped Together Licence holders may hold a licence for themselves or for a corporate group. If a licence is issued for a corporate group, the approved members of the corporate group are jointly considered as the licensee.
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
THERules 18. Do more Good
20. The Right Message
The new regulations strengthen the MGAâ€™s role in the promotion of responsible gaming and safeguarding minors and vulnerable persons, by incorporating the functions of the Responsible Gaming Foundation under the remit of the Authority, in order to better leverage the necessary resources and expertise to achieve these objectives to the fullest. A Social Causes Fund, which mirrors and improves upon the structure of the Good Causes Fund established under the previous legislation, has also been set up.
Advertising compliance is important for iGaming companies as the impact on the overall operation and brand can be huge. Companies need to comply with the following rules: licensees are not allowed to encourage people under 18 years of age to gamble, publish false information on chances of winning, or suggest that gambling can be an investment. Gambling cannot be promoted as a way of gaining prestige. It is also not allowed to use celebrities in advertising and making the player believe that gambling was behind their success, or that skill can influence the outcome in a game of luck. When it comes to social media, companies need to make sure that under-age persons are excluded from the target audience. All advertising also needs to contain an educational message on responsible gaming, and an age-limit warning. Maltaâ€™s gaming regime also outlines strong limitations as to where advertisements can be placed, and the manner in which such communications can be made. The framework also introduced rules specifically relating to sponsorships, bonuses and promotions, misleading advertising and advertising aimed at self-excluded persons. The MGA would like to see companies go above and beyond these minimum requirements and become leaders in best practice in terms of player protection.
19. Welcome to the Party B2B supplies that provide services that are critical to the gaming operation require a licence from the MGA. This includes companies supplying and managing back-end systems controlling, processing or capturing regulatory data. Affiliates whose role is limited to advertising and marketing do not require a licence given that the responsibility for compliance rests with the licensee. However, should the affiliate, or any other outsourcing service provider, conduct other activities related to the gaming service, a licence might be required. For instance, if the outsourcing service provider processes payments and handles player registration, the service provider itself needs to have a B2C licence, unless such services are being carried out solely on behalf of the licensee, in which case they are deemed to be covered within the remit of the licenseeâ€™s authorisation.
21. Say Hello Malta recognises gaming licences issued in other EEA jurisdictions in line with European Treaty Principles, and licensed companies are allowed to operate in Malta. However, such operators need to notify the MGA. In such cases the MGA will have visibility on the operators, who are based in Malta. The recognition notice is subject to a yearly fee and may also be revoked.
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
22. Blockchain Island The MGA launched a Sandbox Framework for cryptocurrencies and virtual financial assets (VFA). The MGA is looking to develop directives that will lead to the ultimate acceptance of cryptocurrencies, as well as Innovative Technology Arrangements (ITA) for Malta’s gaming industry. The new framework will be divided into two phases. As of 1 January 2019, the MGA will accept applications for the use of DLT assets (VFAs and Virtual Tokens) as a method of payment. In a second phase the sandbox framework will be extended to applications for the use of ITAs within the key technical equipment of licensees, to coincide with developments launched by the Malta Digital Innovation Authority (MDIA).
23. #Complaints Every licensee must give players the possibility of filing complaints. Every licensee is obliged to enquire into any complaint made, and in the event that the complaint is forwarded to the MGA, the licensee must provide initial feedback within 21 days from the date on which the complaint has been lodged.
24. The First Commandment Since the 1st of January 2018, iGaming Operators who are licensed to provide a service involving the wagering of a stake with monetary value in games of chance, including games of chance with an element of skill, via electronic means of distance communication upon request from the recipient of said services, with the opportunity to win prizes of money or money’s worth have become ‘Subject Persons’
in terms of Regulation 2 of the Prevention of Money Laundering and Funding of Terrorism Regulations (PMLFTR), better known as the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive. On the 19th of July 2018, the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) jointly with the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) have issued a set of Implementing Procedures specifically for the iGaming Sector which outline gaming companies obligations under the new regulations. The new regulations under the PMLFTR, brought about an obligation for gambling operators to conduct a Business Risk Assessment which should be commensurate to the business risks the operator is exposed to in terms of money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Such risks may be categories into 4 major components which are; Geographical risk, Product service/transaction risk, Interface risk and Customer risk. Accordingly, all ‘Subject Persons’ are required to perform a Customer Specific Risk Assessment and Verification once a player deposit reaches the €2,000 threshold within a rolling period of 180 days (accumulatively) and consequently to perform the necessary Customer Due Diligence (CDD) according to the risk level perceived. Players which are categorised into a Medium or High risk are to be requested for their Source of Funds (SOF) and additional documentation to verify the player’s identify should be requested when necessary. Ultimately, all ‘Subject Persons’ are obliged to report any suspicious activity in terms of ML/ TF without any unnecessary delays with the FIAU, who is the ultimate responsible body for AML/CFT under Article 16(1)(c) of the PMLA.
25. Player Protection All licensees need to display at all times, in a prominent place on the entry screen of the website, a warning of the addiction possibilities of gaming and links to other websites assisting compulsive/problem gamblers. In addition, full-screen games cannot be offered unless a real-time clock is displayed on the screen at all times and players are given the facility to exit the game.
26. That’s my limit All registered players must be given the possibility to either set a deposit or wager limit upon registration, or immediately after registration upon login. The licensee needs to ensure that the option remains available and easily accessible for the player. The operator may offer players the possibility to set additional limits, including but not limited to loss and time session limits and to exclude themselves from playing for a definite or indefinite period of time. While operators are obliged to offer a self-exclusion system to their players, there is no unified system in place. The MGA is committed to designing a unified self-exclusion system across all channels.
27. Failure, Failure, Failure A licensee is to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the computer system enables a player whose participation in a game, after they have made a wager, is interrupted by a connectivity or computer failure, is able to resume playing when the system is restored. If a licensee’s computer does not enable a player to continue, the licensee shall ensure that the game is terminated and the amount of the wager is refunded to the player by placing it in the player’s account.
28.Paving the Way for Automation In 2019, the MGA will launch an Enhanced Automated Reporting Platform for landbased operators, which will be rolled out in 2020 for iGaming companies. This automation serves a twofold purpose: facilitating licensees’ adherence to their reporting obligations, while also increasing the MGA’s access to information and thereby strengthening effective compliance oversight.
29. A Beast of a Different Nature While iGaming companies have to comply with various regulations depending on the markets they operate in, all organisations processing or controlling data in the European Union must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In Malta, companies have to ensure that they are compliant with GDPR and with the gaming regulatory framework. They are obliged to appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO).
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T. 27 800 882
M. 9945 4708
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Closing the Gap The European Gaming Institute of Malta (EGIM) is the government’s strategic commitment to develop education, skills and nurture more talent within the iGaming sector.
or years, gaming employers in Malta have reported a sizeable gap between the talent they need to keep their companies growing and the talent they can actually find. Employers struggle to find candidates with the required skill sets, especially for senior positions. There is also a drastic shortage of candidates to fill the digital and tech jobs openings that are consistently being posted. Finding the right talent proves to be a difficult task — so much so that iGaming companies have long turned to foreign labour markets to fill gaps in the local workforce. Malta’s government has realised the importance of developing more initiatives to address the skills mismatch for the industry to be successful and sustainable in the long-term. In 2017, the European Gaming Institute of Malta was officially launched as a joint venture between the Malta Gaming Authority and the Malta College of Arts Science and Technology.
The first of its nature in Malta and the EU, EGIM will be focusing on land-based business operations and online gaming operations. Its objective is to address the current skills mismatch, as well as forecast and prepare for the upcoming skill sets needed to create new products based on the latest technologies. EGIM has put together a number of educational programmes tailored to the needs of the sector. It offers a mix of short-term courses and diplomas for both local and foreign students who would like to choose the iGaming industry as their career path. Additionally, there are three full-time courses to choose from: MCAST Diploma in iGaming, Masters iGaming - Technology, and Masters in iGaming - Data and Analytics. The programmes are designed to be flexible enough to respond quickly to the industry’s constantly evolving needs.
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European Gaming Institute of Malta • MCAST Main Campus, Triq Kordin, Paola PLA 9032 T: +356 2398 7143 • E: email@example.com • W: www.egim.com.mt
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Enrico Bradamante, Chairperson of iGEN – iGaming European Network
A Stronger Voice Malta’s iGaming industry is coming together to find solutions to common problems, says Enrico Bradamante, Chairman of iGEN, Malta’s new iGaming association. What is iGEN and what is its main objective?
iGEN is short for iGaming European Network. It is an association of Malta’s leading iGaming companies operating in the European and international markets, which was set up in 2018. Malta’s iGaming industry has enjoyed tremendous growth over the past years, but there are also common issues that all companies operating on the island are facing at the moment. While in management circles we’ve long been discussing those challenges as well as possible solutions, no collaborative and concerted action has been taken. That’s why we felt there was the need for an organisation that would coordinate and followup on joint initiatives. We have approached the top gaming employers in Malta, and 15 of them committed to the idea: Aspire Global, Bethard, Betsson, Casumo, Catena Media, ComeOn!, GIG, Leovegas Mobile Gaming Group, Kindred, Mr Green, Tipico, Raketech, Relax Gaming, River iGaming and Videoslots.
iGEN Founding Members Aspire Global Bethard Betsson Casumo
tackle them on our own, but we want to ask the questions and help come up with solutions. We will be working together with the Maltese government and the public sector, as well as other stakeholders such as GamingMalta, the Bankers’ Association, the Real Estate Association and other key organisations.
What is the biggest pain point for companies at the moment?
Malta’s booming gaming industry means all companies are competing for the same, limited GIG talent pool, which among other things has resulted in high staff turnover and somewhat inflated salary Leovegas expectations. There are some 700 iGaming jobs Kindred advertised at any moment in time, and most likely Mr Green not all roles are published on job boards. We have PlayCherry to come up with solutions to overcome this skills shortage. iGEN is also collaborating with ‘HR Tipico Connect’, an association of HR executives which is Raketech involved in initiatives to attract and retain the best Relax Gaming and the brightest to Malta, as well as in educating River iGaming the local workforce. The new educational institute, EGIM, is already seeking to nurture iGaming Videoslots What are the main issues talent and this is a step in the right direction, but you want to address? more needs to be done. One idea is to encourage We have a whole list of initiatives and projects that more universities to join forces with us to produce we have started to work on. Some of the issues graduates who meet the needs of the industry. And it is also that we plan to address are specific to the iGaming industry, important to further develop the capacity of schools for all ages, such as staff shortages with specific competences as well as from kindergarden to high school, as current capacity is very problems with the banking sector. Then there are other, more limited considering the influx of foreign personnel with waiting general challenges that the country is facing, which have also lists at most establishments. repercussions on the iGaming industry. For instance, Malta’s Catena Media
rental prices have gone up dramatically in recent years. As a result, a lot of people are forced to flat-share and/or move away from central areas — and that’s where the issue of infrastructure comes in. Malta’s public transport system and the road network are inadequate. In our opinion it’s essential for the country’s future to strengthen the public transportation, leverage the beautiful sea that surrounds our island to establish more sea links and have an extensive network of cycle lanes connecting different areas of Malta. These are big topics and we cannot
Many companies mention access to banking services as a major hurdle. What role can iGEN play in ensuring a better relationship with the banking sector?
The Maltese Government prides itself that Malta has become the home of iGaming excellence, and rightly so. Yet gaming companies struggle to get access to the Maltese banking system. It is extremely difficult for a start-up associated with gaming, or blockchain technology for that matter, to open a bank account
in Malta, which of course is an essential component of basing the business on the island. Opening personal bank accounts for foreign employees in Malta is also a lengthy and laborious process. While the situation is rather complex, we hope to make a positive contribution by engaging in an open dialogue with the banking sector: initial signals are positive.
Malta is home to the global iGaming industry. From an international perspective, are you planning to take iGaming advocacy to a new level?
Primarily we want to drive positive change in Malta. However, part of our charter is to support the Maltese Government and engage ourselves in discussions with other European countries, including regulators as well as at EU level. There are other associations that have a specific European brief, but none that specifically represent the European operators that are based in Malta, the home of the global iGaming industry. I believe the fact that we are now taking a more collaborative approach to issues concerning the industry will help make our voice heard locally and internationally.
“These are big topics and we cannot tackle them on our own, but we want to ask the questions and help come up with solutions.”
What are your expectations for Malta’s iGaming industry over the next 3-5 years?
We will see more big companies setting up offices in Malta due to Brexit. My biggest concern is that if operational costs are going to increase further, Malta will become uncompetitive from a cost perspective and companies will have no choice but to start looking elsewhere to grow their businesses. Malta is a unique country with many unique advantages and benefits, but it requires dynamic solutions and bold initiatives to ensure it remains the most appealing EU country for the iGaming industry in the years to come. n
Enrico Bradamante is the Chairperson of the iGaming European Network (iGEN). He was previously Managing Director of NetEnt. Enrico has more than 20 years of international experience in general management, sales and marketing in IT hardware and IT software. He has also served as Board Member at Spigraph International in France and held various general management positions at Eastman Kodak and Dell in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Enrico holds an MBA from INSEAD and a MMechEng from University of Trieste.
malta 120 GAMING 2019 EDITION
Roger A. Strickland Jr. Director CSB GROUP
Malta’s New Gaming Regime
Bringing Virtues into Play Malta’s regulator is constantly raising the bar to remain one of the most progressive gaming jurisdictions in the world. The new Gaming Act is set to cement Malta’s position as a leading iGaming hub in the years to come.
“The revamp of Malta’s gaming framework will ensure the sustainability of the industry in the years to come.”
alta’s pro-active approach in regulatory matters has immediately placed it on the map as an attractive destination for the large majority of serious gaming operators. Since the inception of the iGaming industry in Malta, the country has responded to market needs to provide a suitable regulatory framework, which in turn has transformed Malta into a strong hub for numerous iGaming operators and just under 15,000 remote gaming employees. The new Gaming Act that came into force on 1st August 2018 has brought about a number of changes aimed at improving the already strong iGaming Jurisdiction while addressing the need of narrowing down the gap between law and technology.
B2C and B2B
One of the main changes is the categorisation of operators. A B2C operator does no longer need to get a new licence for every new platform, but can instead plug and play with the large variety of licensed B2Bs on the island. This has eliminated duplication of requirements and simplified regulatory burdens to focus on what is strictly necessary and justified while adopting a risk-based approach.
Another main thrust that the new act has brought about is the reduction in gaming tax aimed at incentivising continued growth of the B2B market. This reduction in fees and the fact that Malta’s B2B operators can on-board a wider variety of B2C clients is definitely a game changer. The new Gaming Act saw the role of the key official segmented into different functions to ensure direct scrutiny and targeted supervisory controls on behalf of the authority. This move can be closely associated to the UKGC’s PML holders and undoubtedly raises the bar for those individuals with responsibility within a gaming operation.
Other thrusts of the new act include a moratorium on licence fees payable by start-ups subject to certain criteria being met, the duration of a licence being extended to 10 years from five, the revamping of the player protection and responsible gaming measures, the concept of administration to protect operations in distress, automated and facilitated reporting obligations with an online tool for submitting new applications and monthly reports, and decreasing unnecessary regulatory burdens.
Roger A. Strickland Jr. gives consultancy to companies setting up in Malta, assisting them with making the right choices, understanding the licensing and regulatory requirements as well as supporting them with setting up their respective Malta-based operations. With a wide network of contacts and know-how within the iGaming industry, Roger holds a wealth of experience and brings key stakeholders together.
The new act also ushered in the ‘Mutual Recognition Principle’ whereby the authority will recognise equivalent gaming licences issued by other jurisdictions. This recognition is not automatic but rather subject to operators notifying the authority with their gaming operation and thus enabling the authority to maintain adequate controls over same. The introduction of a ‘Corporate Licence’ is also a key change in the new act. A corporate licence would enable an operator with a global structure to have both its Maltese entity and its other subsidiaries under the same licence in order to be able to offer services within the group. This means that if a licence is issued for a corporate group, the approved members of the group would be jointly and severally considered as the licensee.
The revamp of Malta’s gaming framework will ensure the sustainability of the industry in the years to come. Coupled with the MGA’s recent decision to launch a sandbox framework for the use of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology by iGaming operators, it will provide a springboard for further growth, regulatory focus and most importantly, innovation across multiple fronts. n
CSB Group provides its clients with a spectrum of specialised business and commercial services, offering a complete turnkey solution to clients wishing to setup or relocate their iGaming business to Malta. The firm has the necessary knowledge about all the legal and regulatory requirements, thus ensuring a smooth application process while enabling the operator to take sound decisions about the business set up. In addition to support throughout the licensing process, CSB Group’s services cover company incorporation services including setting up of bank accounts, accounting, payroll and back-office support, tax, regulatory and compliance advice, recruitment and work permits, blockchain and ICO services, property sales and letting and managed office space.
Built on a foundation of recognition of individuals, charity and entertainment, iGaming Idol is the first award show in the iGaming industry to exclusively recognize individuals, not companies or projects, which is open to all genders and with its categories covering almost all parts of a typical online gaming operation. To become part of iGaming Idol 2019, and to discuss our range of sponsorship and partner packages, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Business, Growth Malta has fast become home to some of the biggest and most exciting events on the iGaming Calendar. A string of exhibitions, conferences and networking events are organised on the island each year attracting the industry’s most important power brokers and executives who are influencing the future of the iGaming industry. Not only do these events celebrate the great momentum enjoyed by the local gaming industry, but also help to stimulate it and cement the country’s status as an iGaming innovation hotspot.
The Summit of iGaming Malta, or SiGMA for short, has established itself as one of the gaming industry’s premier showcase events, with the dynamism and diversity of the industry’s ecosystem on full display. SiGMA is a massive gathering of the industry’s players, from operators to affiliates, start-ups to investors. The annual iGaming show attracts 12,000 attendees, 400 exhibitors, and 200 speakers from every corner of the world, who fly to Malta to attend the expo, conferences as well as countless dinners and networking events which often lead to handshakes worth millions. Perhaps, the buzzing expo floor itself is the image that is most closely associated with SiGMA. While the established industry players try to outdo themselves every year, space is also given to some innovative startups. A number of conferences are organised under the SiGMA umbrella every year, covering all aspects of the gaming industry, including but not limited to regulatory developments, payments, affiliates, blockchain and disruptive tech, and eSports. SiGMA Pitch gives some of the selected startups an opportunity to have a small free booth at the expo floor. Then ten finalists are chosen to present their innovative ideas in front of the industry’s veterans and potential investors in a Dragon’s Den-like environment. Every year, SiGMA opens its doors to those who are looking at the possibility of a new career in iGaming. The Careers Convention is an ideal opportunity for graduates and IT developers to network with some of the best in the business and perhaps even land a dream job in an industry that has become one of Malta’s economic pillars.
The best stories of success should be celebrated, not hidden. Known as the iGaming ‘Oscars’, this gala awards evening brings together the fun of handing out and receiving awards to celebrate top talent in the iGaming industry of Malta. iGaming Idol is the first award show in the industry to exclusively recognise and reward individuals, not companies or projects. The 2018 edition saw more than 500 gaming executives attending a black-tie dinner at InterContinental, where 21 awards were handed out across all fields within the iGaming industry. iGaming Idol also shone the spotlight on local charities. It has raised over €20,000 for the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation through charity fund-raisers.
THU, which is short for Trojan Horse was a Unicorn, is known as one of the largest international events within 3D, VFX, Games and Concept Art industries. The six-day festival brings together people from all areas of the digital entertainment industry, including sound designers, game and VR developers, entrepreneurs, marketers and digital artists of all kinds. They all come to Malta to mingle and attend talks, workshops, portfolio reviews, mentorship sessions, art battles and recruitment events. THU provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from and network with some of the world-renowned artists and titans of the entertainment industry. For the past five years THU has always taken place in Portugal, but in 2018 Malta became the new home of the main annual event. The festival is set to become a vital part of Maltaâ€™s digital creative ecosystem.
Malta is rapidly styling itself as the European capital of live poker tournaments. With massive poker events held every month, it is becoming one of the most popular destinations for the worldâ€™s top players. The Battle of Malta is the largest live poker tournament held in Malta. This year, it took place in October and attracted almost 4,000 players. 2018 has also seen the first edition of the Malta Poker Festival, which took place in November at Portomaso Casino and had close to 1,400 entries.
The chemistry of At Clarion Gaming we believe in producing events, publishing products and training courses that have the right chemistry, the chemistry of connections. Gaming is a global business and we have developed a joined up global strategy to help our customers meet their commercial and strategic objectives throughout the world.
Any questions? Contact us via email@example.com clariongaming.com
malta 130 GAMING 2019 EDITION
iGaming Events Calendar 2019 1. EGR Nordics Awards 24 January 2019 Malta
2. ICE VOX
04 - 06 February 2019 ExCeL, London, UK
3. ICE Totally Gaming 05 - 07 February 2019 ExCeL, London, UK
4. Affiliate Summit Europe 2019
12 – 14 March 2019 RAI, Amsterdam, Netherlands
5. London Affiliate Conference 06 - 09 February 2019 Excel, London, UK
6. Prague Gaming Summit 2019
12th March 2019 Vienna House Andel’s, Prague, Czech Republic
7. iGaming Asia Congress 12-14 March 2019 Macau
8. Cyprus Gaming Show 20 May 2019 Nicosia, Cyprus
9. Asean Gaming Summit 2019
12. juegos miami
29 – 31 May 2019 (tbc) Biltmore Hotel, Miami, USA
13. Vienna International Gaming Expo 2019 March 2019 Vienna, Austria
14. Ice North America
19-21 March 2019 Conrad Hotel, Manila, Philippines
13-15 May 2019 Boston Conference Exhibition Center, Boston, USA
10. Brazilian Gaming Congress 2019
15. World GES – World Gaming Executive Summit 2019
April 2019 San Paulo, Brazil
11. Global Gaming Expo Asia
21 - 23 May 2019 The Venetian Macao, Macau
02 - 04 July 2019 W Hotel Barcelona, Spain
16. igb live!
16 - 19 July 2019 RAI, Amsterdam, Netherlands
5 21 4 16 6
23 13 22
17. Affiliate World Europe 2019
21. World Regulatory Briefing
18. igaming idol
22. Eastern European Gaming Summit (EEGS) & Balkan Entertainment and Gaming Expo (BEGE)
8-9 July 2019 Barcelona, Spain
Dates TBC Malta
19. global gaming expo (g2e) las vegas 14-17 October 2019 Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
20. summit of igaming malta 2019 Dates TBC Malta
October 2019 London, UK
Dates TBC Sofia, Bulgaria
23. Excellence in iGaming
November 2019 Arena Berlin, Germany
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Industry Network. Intellectual Capital. Convenience. Ecosystem. Growth. Talent.
Johan Nordstrom CEO of Evolution Malta
Jesper Kärrbrink CEO of Mr Green
My Malta Passionate. Collaborative. Ambitious. Diversity. Quality of Life. Sunny. Innovative. Helpful. Passionate.
Gustaf Hagman Group CEO of LeoVegas
Jesper Svensson CEO of Betsson Group
Robin Eirik Reed CEO of Gaming Innovation Group
Fast-Paced. Diverse. Booming. Blossom. Dynamic. Up-to-the-challenge. Alexander Stevendahl CEO of Videoslots
in 3 Words Creative. Innovative. Beautiful. Networking. Opportunities. Innovation. Community. Friendly. Fast.
Carl Silverstolpe Managing Director & Chief of EMO of NetEnt
Dennis Dyhr-Hansenâ€¨ CEO of Matching Visions
Georg Westin Founder of Hero Gaming
Ariel Reem CEO of Genesis
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
SLIEMA IS NOT While Sliema is still the most popular home of the iGaming industry, the industry is now heading to other areas too, which offer great opportunities but lower prices. Commercial property in Malta is booming, especially in more sought-after areas such as Sliema and St Julian’s. While it is still relatively easy to find smaller offices in these areas, in recent years more iGaming companies set up their offices in the surrounding or central areas, such as Gzira, Msida or Birkirkara.
iGaming companies heavily invest in interior design and activity-based spaces. We have seen some companies investing in fully equipped gyms, cinemas, open and collaborative spaces, kitchen and dining areas complete with a chef and free healthy meals.
We know that relocating to a new country is not just about finding a new home or an office. Our company has a broad service offering, and we ensure that our clients’ relocation to Malta is as stress-free as possible. We are providing highly personalised relocation assistance, and we can take of everything from housing to schooling.
Real estate prices have been rising in Malta on the back of population growth and limited real estate supply. However, with hundreds of new units to be completed over the coming years, prices are expected to stabilise in the near future.
Edward Agius Edward Agius has been associated with JK Properties since its foundation in 1999. Originally operating in Real Estate sales, he moved to Property Letting, eventually occupying the position of Senior Letting Associate. When the RE/MAX franchise entered the market in 2004, Edward was appointed Regional Letting Manager. Today he leads a team of 40 letting associates, operating in the commercial and residential market base across the islands of Malta.
Office relocation doesn’t need to be a nightmare if properly handled. We always make sure new facilities meet the current and future needs of a company. It is our top priority to provide excellent service and treat all clients equally, no matter the budget.
Malta’s market is shifting into high-rise mode, which will help to increase the property stock in Malta without impinging on open spaces. High-rise buildings work very well for smaller companies; however, we have made the experience that large companies, which often need up to 6,000 square metre space, prefer to have their own office block.
THE LIMIT RE/MAX has been working together with the iGaming industry since its inception in Malta. Today, clients from the iGaming industry are amongst the most important for us — the industry forms 40% of our business, and therefore, there is hardly anyone in the real estate sector who knows how to handle a client’s needs the way we do.
Sliema and St Julian’s have always been the most sought-after places to live, but while the vibrant lifestyle of these areas is still appealing to many, today more clients are choosing to live in more peaceful and remote areas in the south and the north of Malta.
The Gozitan rental market has seen a noticeable growth in the last two years. Once known as an attractive retirement destination, the island is now experiencing high demand from the gaming sector, with an increasing number of remoteworking professionals as well as entire teams choosing to live in Gozo.
We have more than 30 offices in Malta and Gozo and a team of 40 professional letting associates. The company is growing, and we are planning to enlarge our team to 60 people by the third quarter of 2019.
Infrastructure investment is high on Malta’s agenda. The government is upgrading the road network, and there are plans to invest in cycle lanes and other forms of transport. These projects are expected to boost connectivity and reduce traffic congestion, which will make it more appealing for the iGaming industry to move out of its established centres.
The cost of renting an office in Sliema ranges between €250 and €350 per square meter per annum. However, clients that are interested in a highend office block located on the seafront need to be prepared to pay between €350 and €600, while rents in central areas vary between €130 and €200.
Residential rental prices in Malta range from €600 to €1,000 per month for standard accommodation, while rents vary between €1,500 and €3,500 for the middle market sector, and go up to between €4,000 and €12,000 for high-end luxury properties.
Michaela Tabone With a sound background, and already well established in Real Estate, Michaela Tabone joined RE/MAX in 2005 and soon occupied the position of Senior Letting Associate, excelling in her work and winning a number of accolades. As the Assistant Regional Letting Manager, a position she was promoted to in 2017, she now guides and mentors a team of 40 Letting associates, working across the islands of Malta.
RELOCATING TO MALTA?
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“One of the major changes hitting Malta which had a significant impact on the accounting of iGaming companies was the change in terms of what services are chargeable to VAT or otherwise. The legislation effective from the beginning of 2018 specifically identifies gaming products such as online casino and P2P poker as being supplies which attract VAT at the standard rate of 18%. Most other gaming supplies have remained exempt without credit. This change has implied that companies which previously could not recover any of their input VAT costs were now in a position to do so in so far as they relate to VATable supplies. Complexities have arisen due to the fact that several operators offer different products that are subject to diverse VAT treatment concurrently, resulting in an additional reporting burden of having to ensure that only the portion related to eligible supplies is effectively recovered.” Vladimiro Comodini Partner of RSM Malta
Incorporating a Company
Malta’s iGaming industry has many factors working in its favour, but none more so than the island’s revamped regulatory framework. The Malta Gaming Authority in 2018 has rolled out the new Gaming Act that allows companies to apply for two different licences, a businessto-consumer (B2C) and a business-to-business (B2B) licence. The two licence groups cover all types of games and activities across multiple distribution channels. As part of the regulatory overhaul the MGA has introduced a more competitive fee structure and reasonable compliance contributions. The MGA has also extended the validity of licences from 5 to 10 years.
Forming a company in Malta is relatively easy and only takes a couple of days. Maltese law does not have a specific requirement on the nationality and residence of directors. iGaming companies are required to appoint a Key Official, who must be resident in Malta. Maltese law does not lay down any specific requirements on the shareholding of a gaming company, and the company may be owned indirectly through a Maltese holding company or directly by nonresident shareholders. However, corporate substance is mandatory for companies to benefit from tax refunds and other mechanisms. Companies require an appropriate physical presence, registered employees on their books and all other necessities typically associated with economic substance.
Tax The Maltese taxation system is one of the main reasons foreign investors choose to establish companies in Malta. The island offers competitive rates compared to other EU countries with a corporate tax rate of 35% on all profits. Through Malta’s full imputation system shareholders can claim a refund on tax paid by the company, which effectively reduces the tax rate to 5%. As a member of the EU, Malta’s tax system has been approved by the European Commission and the OECD. A network of over 70 double taxation treaties further strengthens Malta’s position as a key corporate location.
Personal Taxation & Expat Taxation Malta has a progressive personal taxation system that ranges from 0% to a maximum of 35% for income over €60,000. To attract highly qualified personnel from abroad, the government has introduced an incentive scheme targeting foreign executives. iGaming professionals earning a minimum of €84,016 can benefit from a flat personal income tax rate of 15% on all income up to €5 million. Any income over that figure is tax-free. Malta’s tax system is beneficial for entrepreneurs, wealthy individuals and investors who are looking for a stable, safe and attractive business environment.
malta 140 GAMING 2019 EDITION
Gaming start-ups find Malta a particularly attractive place due to the concentration of industry players, talent and suppliers on the island. Malta is also stepping up its efforts in helping to create new businesses and has expanded the scope of support for innovators. Incubators and innovation hubs have been established to support start-ups that have the potential to develop innovative services for the gaming industry. Malta is generally 20 to 30% cheaper than the more established European centres, while a company’s seed capital may last three to five times longer. Venture capital firms have also started to move into Malta, providing promising iGaming start-ups a new avenue to access finance. A number of co-working spaces have opened up offering entrepreneurs the opportunity to work in a vibrant and dynamic environment that will not only foster their ideas, but also create invaluable business connections while still being affordable.
Since Malta joined the EU in 2004, companies operating in an out of the island benefit from free access to the EU’s 500 million people strong internal market. As the first country in the EU to create dedicated legislation for the iGaming sector, Malta’s industry has until recently enjoyed unrestricted access to all EU member states. The trend of EU member states introducing their own national iGaming licensing regimes has meant companies operating from Malta have had to acquire separate licences in these countries. Despite this, Malta-based licence holders may find it easier to acquire a licence in other jurisdictions as there are certain similarities between the various national licensing regimes. Operators highlight the fact that despite the European market becoming more restricted, the Maltese licence still holds value by providing access to countries that have not yet introduced their own national licensing regimes. Malta’s strategic location in the centre of the Mediterranean offers easy access to the entire region and in particular to the emerging markets of Africa and the Middle East.
Telecoms & Data Management
Banking & Financial Services
Given its size, the island’s telecoms infrastructure is disproportionately strong. Hosting and co-location services can be easily sourced. Data centres are provided with international bandwidth through the three main telecoms service providers: GO, Vodafone and Melita. There are also several other independent data centres. Malta is internationally connected through two satellite stations and five submarine fibre optic links to mainland Europe via Italy. To reduce Malta’s reliance on the existing links, Malta’s government plans to invest in an additional fibre optic cable to France. Bandwidth in Malta is slightly more expensive than elsewhere due to the fact that Malta is an island, but increased competition from multiple market players is expected to drive telecommunications prices further down in the near future.
Banking is a very challenging topic for iGaming companies starting up in Malta. Major companies can get access to large banking groups such as Bank of Valletta (BOV), while smaller operators and start-ups are generally being served by smaller banks and financial institutions.
Payment Services Malta is home to credit card companies, payment service providers, payment gateways, card issuers and eWallets, regulated and overseen by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA). The island’s financial services legislation is modern and sophisticated, and superior to many of its competitors in the areas of e-commerce regulation and facilitation. Specialist PCIcertified payment service providers offer the full range of payment services.
Association of HR Practitioners Continuous Professional Development Programmes Academic Programmes Networking & Events 5, Clock Tower Building, Tigné Point, Sliema - Malta T: 2131 3550 • E: email@example.com • W: www.fhrd.org FHRD - Foundation for Human Resources Development
Stock Exchange Listing
HR & Recruitment
The Malta Stock Exchange (MSE) has set its sights on persuading iGaming companies to list in Malta instead of Stockholm, London or Frankfurt. With a market capitalisation of some €12 billion, the MSE may be small by international standards, but it provides companies with a solid venue to access EU investors. The Exchange uses Deutsche Börse’s Xetra trading platform. On the settlement and custodial side the MSE has a link with Clearstream Banking, the global liquidity provider of Deutsche Börse Group, which facilitates international investor access. What sets the MSE apart is its very high standard of personal service. The Exchange highlights that companies can go through the preparation for an initial public offering (IPO) with more support than on a larger exchange. In addition, costs and fees remain competitive.
The key ingredient to Malta’s gaming success has been the ability to attract the best and the brightest. The island’s comfortable lifestyle and magnificent climate make it easy to attract expats to relocate to Malta, with some 70% of the sector’s workforce being foreign. Maltese staff tend to fill positions in marketing, finance and general management, while the more specialist gaming posts are filled by expats. Malta is doing its parts to attracting creative gaming minds from all over the world by fast-tracking visa and work permit applications and making the onboarding process for companies as smooth as possible. A number of specialist gaming recruitment companies have set up in Malta to meet the demand for business intelligence professionals, marketing professionals, affiliate managers, online marketing managers, developers, systems engineers and digital designers. These companies can assist operators in deciding how and where to recruit the human resources necessary, using their international networks to reach potential candidates from around the world. Training companies and some educational institutes provide industry-specific training, while the European Gaming Institute of Malta (EGIM), a joint venture between the Malta Gaming Authority and the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology, also offers a mix of short term courses, diplomas and masters programmes tailored to the needs of the gaming industry.
Advertising & Marketing Malta offers a well-established infrastructure that supports the creative needs of the iGaming industry. The island has become renowned for its creative sectors such as film, website design, graphic design, animation, digital media and advertising. Over recent years, the island has succeeded in attracting specialist support companies across all verticals and disciplines. Most of the global advertising agencies have a network partner in Malta, while there is a large number of boutique firms offering services in sectors such as SEO, design, animation, and affiliate marketing.
Customer Support The island’s reputation as an outsourcing location has been built upon some of the country’s most fundamental strengths: the fact that English is an official language, availability of talented people, value for money, the island’s quality of life and the successful iGaming businesses that are already operating here. Malta has a long and proud heritage of hosting global businesses, having imported and exported people, ideas and products for centuries. The hundreds of iGaming companies that have established a base in Malta now attract employees from across the globe offering customer service in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, German, Polish, Russian, Swedish, Arabic and Turkish to mention just a few of the many language groups available on the island.
Salaries & Staff Cost Malta remains significantly cheaper than other European capitals in terms of staff salaries and other costs. Although the iGaming industry tends to offer remuneration that is some 30% higher than other industries in Malta, the figures are still lower than the European average. In the gaming sector, financial packages range from €20,000 for customer support staff to €80,000 for department heads and €200,000+ for CEOs.
Work Permits & Approvals Visa obligations for foreign nationals reflect EU regulations and obligations. Non-EU nationals must apply for and obtain an employment permit. Due to the nature of the industry and the specific knowledge that is required, the granting of employment permits even to non-EU nationals is generally an uncomplicated and smooth process.
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
Professional Services Malta has a solid cluster of firms that specialise in providing professional services to iGaming operators, guiding them through the licensing process and assisting them with setting up a Malta company, establishing operations and recruiting HR. In addition, the iGaming community in Malta is strongly supported by a large range of accounting and auditing practitioners ranging from small boutique practices to the global Big 4 accountancy firms, as well as most international network brands. Most of the country’s legal firms are part of international networks. Malta is able to offer operators professional services at costs that are generally lower than in other Western European locations.
Technical Support Malta has a highly experienced and vibrant ICT sector. There are a number of software auditors and test labs on the island, offering services ranging from compliance reviews to RNG testing. Malta is also home to a rapidly emerging cybersecurity cluster, providing operators’ advice and assistance on risks, compliance and security threats.
Commercial Property Malta offers enviable real estate with sea views and marinas as well as prestigious landmark office complexes within easy commuting distance to residential areas. Although sales and letting prices have been on an upward trend, they are around twothirds of those charged for comparable spaces in Continental Europe. Office space comes in many flavours, ranging from purpose-built office blocks, converted houses, apartments and palazzos, to new, large mixed-use developments. A large number of local and international real estate agents provide sales and letting services and can assist in locating suitable property. n
EXPERT LEGAL ADVICE FROM THE LEADERS IN THE FIELD
Benefit from our comprehensive Gaming Legal Advice
EXPERT LEGAL ADVICE Contact our winning team for: FROM THE LEADERS Corporate Services | Compliance | Taxation | Key Official | Licensing Directorship | Accounting | Intellectual Property | Contracts | Litigation INData THE FIELD Protection | Work Permits | Back Office Services | General Legal Advice
115B, Old Mint Street, Valletta VLT 1515, Malta T (+356) 2015 7000 | F (+356) 2015 7010 | E firstname.lastname@example.org | W www.gonzi.com.mt
www.gonzi.com.mt Benefit from our comprehensive Gaming Legal Advice
Where Big Players meet Game Changers MALTA BUSINESS PROFILES Connect with Malta’s major Legal and Accounting Firms, Professional Advisors and the iGaming Centre’s most influential executives.
malta 148 GAMING 2019 EDITION
Accounting & Auditing
DHL ....................................................... 153
Griffiths + Associates............................ 156 KPMG.................................................... 157
Education & Training
RSM Malta ............................................ 159
Conference & Events
Clarion Gaming..................................... 152
Genesis Global Limited......................... 155
iGaming IDOL Ltd................................ 156
Jackpotjoy Group.................................. 156
Institute of Malta............................. 154
Corporate Services ARQ Group............................................150
Gaming Platforms & Solutions
Contact Advisory Services.................... 153
CSB Group............................................. 153
DD Consultus Limited.......................... 153
Entertainment Solutions GMBH..... 156
e-Volve Consultancy Ltd....................... 154
Finanz-Audit Limited........................... 154 Kayem Consulting Limited................... 156
HR & Recruitment
Paymentworld Europe Limited...........158
Foundation for Human Resources Development................... 155
Malta Remote Gaming Council............ 157
RE/MAX Lettings.................................. 159
Insurance Services Atlas Healthcare
Insurance Agency Ltd.....................150
Malta Gaming Authority....................... 157
Citadel Insurance p.l.c.......................... 152
System & Compliance Audit Legal Services
Camilleri Preziosi Advocates................ 152 Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates................... 152
Telecoms & Data
4Sight Technologies Ltd.......................150
Gonzi & Associates Advocates.............. 155
BMIT Limited.........................................151 Continent 8 Technologies..................... 153 Fortytwo................................................ 155
Travel & Leisure La Valette Club...................................... 157
malta 150 GAMING 2019 EDITION
4SIGHT TECHNOLOGIES LTD
4Sight Consultants is a leading ICT Company specializing in the provision of Managed IT services, support and IT hardware and software procurement. Established in 2007 4Sight Consultants provides services to a variety of businesses around the Maltese islands. 4Sight Consultants is part of larger group called 4Sight Technologies that specializes in a broader range of IT related services.
22, Level 1. Wenzu Dyer Street, Hamrun - Malta T: (+356) 2780 0882 E: email@example.com W: www.4sightconsultants.com Contact: Maurizio Mamo - CEO
Maurizio Mamo CEO
Acquiring.com is an acquiring Bank based in Malta that delivers an industryleading acquiring platform and clearing solution. Acquiring.com holds a principal membership license with Visa & Mastercard. Founded in 2014 as Secure Trading Financial Services Ltd, acquiring.com works seamlessly in partnering with any PSP, payment facilitator, ISO, or merchant from a traditional or high-risk vertical. We are highly specialised in powering payments for online gaming merchants not only in Europe but also in the US, where we have excelled for the past four years providing gambling payments solutions in New Jersey and Las Vegas. We hold various US patents for gaming regulation.
Level 2, Ewropa Business Centre, Triq Dun Karm, Birkirkara BKR 9034 - Malta T: (+356) 2703 6066 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.acquiring.com
ARQ Group is uniquely positioned to offer seamlessly integrated legal and financial services customised to meet the client’s specific business needs. This gives the client one-stop access to multiple services, simplifying the process to deliver innovative and effective solutions across a range of sectors. ARQ’s core focus areas are investment migration, residency and citizenship programmes, taxation, company incorporation and administration, business advisory services, blockchain, cryptos, economic and business intelligence, risk management, AML compliance, audit and accounting. Manfred Galdes MANAGING PARTNER
Ewropa Business Centre, Level 3 – 701, Dun Karm Street, Birkirkara BKR 9034 - Malta T: (+356) 2549 6000 E: email@example.com W: www.arqgroup.com Contact: Manfred Galdes - Managing Partner
ATLAS HEALTHCARE INSURANCE AGENCY LTD
Atlas Healthcare, the AXA PPP healthcare Malta agent, occupies a prominent position in the local healthcare market, with a wide range of healthcare products including the only local dental plans – the Malta Corporate Dental range. Health plans offer several unique benefits, including access to AXA’s international hospital network, AXA assistance services, a local 24/7 claims assistance service as well as preventive care, chronic benefits, MEDIX and other optional add-ons. Atlas offers the only local group secretaries’ portal allowing updating and exporting of staff lists, flexible billing and monthly reporting of claims. Catherine Calleja MANAGING DIRECTOR
Abate Rigord Street, Ta’ Xbiex XBX 1121 - Malta T: (+356) 2132 2600 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.atlas.com.mt Contact: Catherine Calleja - Managing Director
Reuben Portanier PARTNER
Avviza Afilexion is a member firm of Afilexion Alliance, a full services advisory firm co-founded by Reuben Portanier, former CEO of the Malta Gaming Authority and winner of the 2013 GIQ Hot 50 and 2018 Gaming Consultant of the Year. Avviza Afilexion offers a complete suite of advisory solutions, both for established gaming companies and start-ups. As Avviza’s associates hold international experience, we assist clients across a number of jurisdictions including licensing and compliance for Malta, UK, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Romania, and Sweden amongst others. Avviza in collaboration with Afilexion Alliance’s member firms, including GTG Advocates, also offers advisory services with respect to Mergers & Acquisitions, Investment Brokerage, Business Planning, Company Incorporation, and Compliance Services.
66, Old Bakery Street, Valletta VLT1454 - Malta T: (+356) 2124 2713 E: email@example.com W: www.afilexion.com Contact: Reuben Portanier - Partner
For several years, BDO Malta has acted as auditors, tax advisers and consultants to numerous gaming companies. We are experienced in advising businesses during the application process required to obtain a remote gaming licence and assist with all of the information required by the Malta Gaming Authority. We also support clients in blockchain advisory, data governance and privacy areas as well as with any technology solutions your operation may need in order to stay ahead of the competition.
Triq it-Torri, Msida MSD1824 - Malta T: (+356) 9942 1750 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.bdo.com.mt Contact: Mark Attard - CEO
Mark Attard CEO
Vigen Badalyan CEO AND FOUNDER
BetConstruct is an award-winning developer and provider of online and land-based gaming solutions with development, sales and service centres around the globe. BetConstruct’s innovative and proven offerings include an extensive range of products and services, including Sportsbook, Sports Data Solutions, Retail Solutions, RNG & Live Dealer Casino, VR Casino, Poker, Skill Games, Fantasy Sports, Social Platform and more. The latest addition is the industry’s first complete management infrastructure, SpringBME (Business Management Environment). All partners benefit from the BetConstruct Spring platform with its powerful back office tools and all-inclusive services that empower operators’ growth and help contain their costs. From standalone set up to turn-key and white label solutions, BetConstruct offers its partners unfettered opportunity to succeed.
Luxe Pavillion 2nd level, Portomaso St. Julian’s STJ4010 - Malta T: (+356) 2744 9232 E: email@example.com W: www.betconstruct.com Contact: Kristina Hambardzumyan - Regional Director
Bit8’s innovative platform has been built to support business growth and act as a source of competitive advantage for all its operator partners by providing them, one of the industry’s most reliable platform solutions, which delivers growth without encountering scalability obstacles. Bit8’s customer operators are spread all over the world, and apart from the standard tools one would expect from a platform, they benefit also from the Campaign Manager, providing easy gamification of their brands. For operators that wish to keep their current platform, but want to take the next step in their marketing campaigns, the Campaign Manager can be used as a plugin to any existing platform.
Level 2, Quantum Place, Triq ix-Xatt, Gzira - Malta T: (+356) 2092 5800 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.bit8.com Contact: Sales Team
BitLoad4u (B4U) is a disruptor in the payments space that provides global liquidity to bitcoin owners. B4U offers virtual currency pay-in and payout solutions by operating a robust bitcoin processing platform that supports bank transfers to IBAN accounts as well as payments to global credit and debit card accounts. This means clients can access their funds anywhere their card is accepted. The web-based platform has been designed to cater for quick and reasonably priced transfers and is equipped with robust Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering checks. The platform can be seamlessly integrated, making B4U the partner of choice of the global iGaming industry. T. Jack Williams CEO
201, Republic Street, Valletta - Malta T: (+356) 2124 2713 E: email@example.com W: www.bitload4u.com Contact: T. Jack Williams - CEO
BMIT is Malta’s leading data centre provider, providing secure facilities and reliable services to a wide range of highly sophisticated industries such as telecommunications, financial services and gaming operators. BMIT’s suite of solutions includes: Access to multiple data centres in Malta, Italy and Germany, an exclusive 40Gbps private network for clients with advanced multi-layered DDoS protection, Public, Private and Hybrid Cloud Services, Managed IT Services & Disaster Recovery Solutions. All our services operate from ISO 27001 and PCI DSS certified data centres, supported by an expert 24x7 team of dedicated professionals. Christian Sammut CEO
54/55, Triq Manuel Borg Gauci, Handaq, Qormi QRM 4000 - Malta T: (+356) 2258 8200 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: bmit.com.mt Contact: Nick Tonna - Chief Commercial Officer
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
BtoBet is a full technological partner that provides award-winning B2B solutions for the iGaming industry. The advanced technology incorporated in its Neuron Sports and Gaming platforms makes them the ideal choice for all operators. Both platforms are: scalable for any jurisdiction; feature multi-currency options; offer a wide range of international payments; and are scalable in terms of betting and gaming offers according to local players’ needs and preferences, thus delivering highly customizable and tailored solutions to operators seeking a unique player experience, no matter the market targeted. BtoBet boasts of a highly qualified dedicated development team, which is always present to assist our partners in their daily activities.
CHAIRMAN AND CEO
Advanced House, Level 2, 375 Manwel Dimech Street, Sliema SLM 1058 - Malta T: (+356) 2713 5974 E: email@example.com W: www.btobet.com Contact: Alessandro Fried - Chairman and CEO
CAMILLERI PREZIOSI ADVOCATES
Camilleri Preziosi commands an outstanding reputation amongst clients and peers as a leading Maltese commercial law firm. The firm is consistently ranked as a top-tier firm by leading legal directories and retains a strong presence in the gaming and gambling advisory sector. The firm offers online and land-based operators assistance in structuring, incorporation, corporate, financing, compliance, licensing, regulatory, dispute resolution and DLTrelated matters. The firm’s tax, IP, IT, employment, blockchain, litigation and corporate support services departments complement the iGaming and landbased gaming team to meet clients’ ancillary requirements. Dr Malcolm Falzon PARTNER
Level 3, Valletta Buildings, South Street, Valletta VLT 1103 - Malta T: (+356) 2123 8989 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.camilleripreziosi.com Contact: Dr Malcolm Falzon - Partner
CHETCUTI CAUCHI ADVOCATES
Dr Silvana Zammit
Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates is a law firm serving successful businesses and private clients using Malta as an international business centre. With offices in Malta, Cyprus, London, Zurich and Hong Kong, we advise clients on their private and business legal needs. Led by Dr Silvana Zammit, Gaming, ICT and Fintech Partner at Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates, our iGaming practice services start-ups or established operators seeking a fully-fledged set up or a back-up operation within an EU jurisdiction. With experience in the Maltese gaming industry since its inception in 2004, our iGaming practice prides itself of in-depth expertise in all aspects of gaming including licensing and compliance, international tax planning, accounting and company formation & administration.
120, St Ursula Street, Valletta, VLT 1236 - Malta T: (+356) 2205 6200 E: email@example.com W: www.ccmalta.com Contact: Dr Silvana Zammit - Partner
CITADEL INSURANCE PLC
Established in 1997 as the second indigenous insurance company in Malta, Citadel Insurance is a composite company authorised by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) to transact general and life insurance. Citadel offers a wide range of products for business, motor, home, marine, travel, health, life and savings plans. Bespoke packages are available for SMEs and large corporations ranging from group life, group health, engineering, professional indemnity, liability, property insurance and more.
Casa Borgo, 26 Market Street, Floriana - Malta T: (+356) 2557 9000 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.citadelplc.com Contact: Angela Tabone - Managing Director/ CEO
Angela Tabone MANAGING DIRECTOR/ CEO
Kate Chambers MANAGING DIRECTOR CLARION GAMING
Clarion Gaming occupies a unique position in gaming, providing the full range of services to the global industry, including exhibitions, conferences, and technical training as well digital and print information. Clarion Gaming’s brands are delivered globally and attract more than 50,000 customers annually in locations spanning every continent. ICE London, the world’s largest gaming technology exhibition; iGB Live!, ICE Africa, ICE North America, Juegos Miami, GiGse, World Regulatory Briefings and Gaming Congresses in Brazil and Japan. Clarion Gaming also delivers multi-level training for gaming professionals through the Totally Gaming Academy and produces a variety of print and digital intelligence and resources through iGaming Business, Totally Gaming and iGB Affiliate.
Clarion Events | 69-79 Fulham High Street, London SW6 3JW - UK T: (+44) 7876 476693 E: email@example.com W: www.clariongaming.com Contact: Kate Chambers - Managing Director, Clarion Gaming
CONTACT ADVISORY SERVICES
Contact Advisory Services is the company that you can depend on for professional, across-the-board consultancy services in Malta. Specialising in the remote gaming, financial services and blockchain sector, we are dedicated to providing you with an efficient and dependable service that ensures all of your needs are met - no matter how challenging or complex. With years of valuable experience behind us, we are also able to offer a vast range of bespoke services that include: assurance, corporate services, consultancy, legal, tax, internal auditing, information security, data protection, management consultancy, fiduciary services, back office support, blockchain licensing and advisory.
DIRECTOR AND CO-FOUNDER
170,Pater House, Psaila Street Birkirkara, BKR 9077 - Malta T: (+356) 9944 6120 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.contact.com.mt Contact: Trevor Axiak - Director and co-Founder
CONTINENT 8 TECHNOLOGIES
Your hub for online gaming across Europe, the US and Asia: Continent 8 Technologies is the world’s largest online gaming data centre and global network solutions provider. We provide global managed hosting, connectivity, and security through world-class DDOS detection and mitigation, public and private cloud services, and dual data centres in Malta. Continent 8 keeps gaming operators’ applications online and secure via a private redundant global backbone and over 30 connected locations across three continents, including multi-state locations in the United States. Continent 8 is ideally positioned to provide local and global expertise in the provision of hosting services in both highly regulated and technically challenging geographic locations around the world.
CEO & CO-FOUNDER
7 Old Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1QR United Kingdom T: (+44) 1624 694625 E: email@example.com W: continent8.com Contact: Graham Foster – Account Director
Roger A. Strickland Jr DIRECTOR
CSB Group (est. 1987) provides a spectrum of specialised business and commercial services, offering a complete turnkey solution to clients wishing to setup or relocate their iGaming business to Malta. CSB’s areas of specialisation today include: Corporate; Trust; Accounting; Tax; Financial Services Regulatory; Fintech; Immigration; Recruitment; Credit Risk; Relocation & Real Estate Services. Furthermore, CSB offers the following services: Incorporation and Domiciliation of Companies; Trust, Fiduciary & Escrow Services; Payroll & Tax Administration; Compliance & Regulatory Consultancy; Licensing of iGaming; Financial Services Regulatory Licensing; Funds; Banking Licences; Licensing of VFA Services; Crypto Funds; Crypto Exchange; ICOs; Ship, Yacht & Aircraft Registration; Residence & Work Permits and Serviced Office Space.
The Penthouse, Tower Business Centre, Tower Street, Swatar BKR 4013 - Malta T: (+356) 2557 2557 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: CSBGROUP.COM Contact: Roger A. Strickland Jr - Director
DD CONSULTUS LIMITED
DD Consultus is based in Malta and it specialises in the online gaming industry, online payment processing and the related services thereto. DD Consultus offers senior international gaming consultancy to all sectors of the gaming industry, including but not limited to online gaming, land-based Casinos and arcades, software and platform providers, and gaming machines manufacturers. Our gaming practice encompasses all aspects of gaming law, including licensing, corporate, legal and financial compliance, acquisition, mergers and development. DD Consultus professional services also extend to the provision of services in the field of online payments and the acquisition of financial institutions and electronic money licences in Malta, as well as consultancy to online payment processors.
Villa Ichang no. 16, Triq Mons. Alfredo Mifsud, Ta’ Xbiex XBX 1063 - Malta T: (+356) 2137 0333 E: email@example.com W: www.ddconsultus.com Contact: Denitza Dimitrova - Managing Director
Charles Schiavone COUNTRY MANAGER
DHL is the global market leader in the industry and “The Logistics Company for the World”. Our popular International Express door-to-door delivery service is available when you’re sending document or non-document shipments anywhere around the world. The company has been operating in Malta since 1983, and DHL Express remains a pioneer, constantly providing new solutions for its customers, solutions that make it the market leader. While maintaining the largest market share, DHL sets very high levels of service and always seeks to serve the customer in the best possible way. Having a constant presence in the Maltese market since 1983, DHL has acquired a deep knowledge of critical shipments as well as unparalleled experience in the specialised handling of express deliveries for each industry sector.
MIA Cargo Village, Luqa, LQA 3290 - Malta T: (+356) 2180 0148 E: Charles.firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.dhl.com.mt Contact: Charles Schiavone - Country Manager
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
e-Management, a dedicated business division of HBM Group, is a leading specialised turnkey provider of Business Support & Corporate Services to the iGaming industry. We focus on establishing and managing internationally engaged iGaming companies based in Curaçao and Malta. With almost two decades of experience in assisting major software providers and operators with their corporate, compliance and licensing requirements in both Curacao and Malta, we were amongst the first Corporate Services Providers in 1997 to enter the iGaming industry. e-Management, via HBM Group, provides its Business Support & Corporate Services in 13 jurisdictions worldwide. Sarah Borg DIRECTOR
5th Floor, Dragonara Business Centre Dragonara Road, St Julians STJ3141 - Malta T: (+356) 2132 3626 E: email@example.com W: www.emanagement-group.com Contact: Sarah Borg - Director
EMD is an established multi-disciplinary firm based in Malta offering services in the legal, tax, accounting, advisory, ICT, translations and corporate services, through our 80 plus in-house staff complement. EMD Advocates, the firm’s legal arm, boasts of a strong international practice in a number of niche markets, including remote gaming. At EMD we assist and provide legal advice to investors interested in setting up a remote gaming business. We assist during the company incorporation and licensing stage and provide on-going services related to administration services, tax consultancy, back office services, on-going remote gaming compliance services and IT services. Dr Tonio Ellul PARTNER
Vaults 13 – 15, Valletta Waterfront, Floriana FRN1914 - Malta T: (+356) 2203 0000 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.emd.com.mt Contact: Dr Tonio Ellul - Partner
EUROPEAN GAMING INSTITUTE OF MALTA
The European Gaming Institute of Malta (EGIM) is a joint venture between the MGA and MCAST which has the objective of developing training and educational programmes for the iGaming industry. EGIM aims to offer the best possible mix of short-term courses, diplomas and masters programmes for potential candidates coming from non-related gaming industries to familiarise themselves with an area of choice within the iGaming industry to achieve adequate knowledge and skills. EGIM’s objective is to understand the skill requirements of the industry (current and future) and most importantly, forecast and prepare for the upcoming skill sets needed to build and create educational courses based on future technology and product trends.
MCAST Main Campus Triq Kordin, Paola PLA 9032 - Malta T: (+356) 2398 7143 E: email@example.com W: www.egim.com.mt Contact: Stephen Vella - General Manager MG2i | MCAST
E-VOLVE CONSULTANCY LTD
Michael Spiteri Bailey
e-Volve Malta is a specialist accountancy and consulting firm offering a range of services, including tax opinions; assistance with angel investment and venture capital registration; management of companies; provision of VAT registration and return; leasing of serviced office space; sharing of staff resources; tax planning; negotiating and delivering preferential rates from Maltese suppliers; as well as bespoke accounting service packages. Our expertise in the nuances of Malta’s corporate tax system is second to none. In Malta, our licensing team has regular communication with the network of interlocutors that are relevant to the industry, including government officials and officers of the Malta Gaming Authority and also of the UK Gambling Commission.
Suite 3, 1st Floor, Valletta Buildings, South Street, Valletta VLT 1103 - Malta T: (+356) 2122 8535 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.evolvemalta.com Contact: Michael Spiteri Bailey - Director
Cosmas Cosma DIRECTOR
Finanz-Audit Limited provides audit, tax and advisory services to a broad range of businesses from the sole entrepreneur to the large multinational corporation spanning multiple industries including iGaming. Finanz-Audit Limited is committed to providing quality services with professional objectivity while preserving the trust of clients by offering personalised assistance and support. The foundation of our success lies in the expertise of our ‘high-calibre’ staff. Their skills, knowledge, professionalism and energy enable us to provide prompt, efficient and high-quality services. Finanz-Audit Limited is accredited by the Malta Gaming Authority to carry out systems and compliance reviews required by those seeking to obtain or maintain their remote gaming licence.
Level 1, Somnium, Tower Road, Swatar, Birkirkara BKR4012 - Malta T: (+356) 2010 8080 E: email@example.com W: www.finanz-audit.com Contact: Cosmas Cosma - Director
Communication and engagement strategies separate successful brands from the rest. Our world is now mobile, with most aspects of life being influenced through the devices we carry, and the iGaming space is no different. Fortytwo, as a Mobile Communications company, recognizes this shift towards mobile environment and offers customer engagement solutions that meet clients’ changing demands helping enhance player satisfaction and loyalty resulting in improved revenues. Founded in Sweden in 2001, Fortytwo enables companies to correctly use our Mobile Communication products within their integrated marketing and engagement strategies. Now based in Malta, with a team of mobile communication experts, we look forward to discussing how our solutions bridge the gap between you and your customers.
129, Labour Avenue, Naxxar NXR 9023 - Malta T: (+356) 2704 1372 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.fortytwo.com Contact: Adrian Gatt - Head of Business Development
HEAD OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
FOUNDATION FOR HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
FHRD over the past 25 years has moulded its portfolio to cover a vast range of HR related ventures. The entity today offers exclusive services to its members, organises conferences and seminars related to business operations and people management, and acts as the representative of the HR community in Malta and internationally. The organisation is an accredited training institution and provides bespoke accredited training programmes tailor-made for Malta’s industry. Through its partner, the University of Leicester, FHRD also offers courses ranging from Diploma level up to PHD level in the areas of Finance, Management, Marketing, MBA and HR. Marvin Cuschieri CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
No 5, Clock Tower Building, Tigne Point, Sliema TP01 - Malta T: (+356) 2131 3550 E: email@example.com W: www.fhrd.org Contact: Marvin Cuschieri - Chief Executive Officer
GamingMalta is an independent non-profit foundation set up by the Government of Malta and the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). Tasked with the remit of promoting Malta as a centre of excellence in the digital and remote gaming sector globally, it is also responsible for liaising with the local relevant authorities to improve Malta’s attractiveness as a jurisdiction and enhance the ecosystem surrounding the gaming industry.
Building SCM 02-03, Level 3,Smart City, Ricasoli, SCM 1001 - Malta T: (+356) 2247 3000 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.gamingmalta.org Contact: Ivan Filletti - Head of Operations and Business Development
Ivan Filletti HEAD OF OPERATIONS AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
GENESIS GLOBAL LIMITED
Genesis Global is a success story that started back in 2014 and became a fastgrowing, data driven and mobile gaming technology company. Genesis offers and develops cutting-edge services through its four B2C products, offering games from the best of breed content suppliers. Genesis is one of the world leaders in the mobile gaming revolution through focusing on creating well designed, highly enjoyable entertainment experiences through each product, marketing channels, technology innovation to maintain an unparalleled reputation of quality since its inception. United in diversity, we are committed to providing the best customer experience, exploring new business ventures and being the employer of choice, whilst staying true to our company values. All of this and much more, is what makes Genesis Global truly great!
CEO & FOUNDER
Level 6A, Tagliaferro Business Centre, Gaeity Lane c/w High Street, Sliema SLM 1549 - Malta T: (+356) 2778 2288 E: email@example.com W: www.genesis.com.mt Contact: Franklyn Brincat - Head of HR
GONZI & ASSOCIATES ADVOCATES
David Gonzi MANAGING PARTNER
Gonzi & Associates, Advocates is an established Maltese law firm specialising in Gaming, Telecoms, IT and Financial Services. Amongst other areas, the firm provides advice on Company formation, Tax planning, Licensing, Compliance, Contracts, Website terms and conditions, Data Protection and Trademark Registration. Our team of lawyers are experts in their respective fields allowing us to provide you with relevant, reliable and experienced based legal advice. The firm is associated with GA Corporate Limited providing international corporate services. Contact us to discover how we can better your business by setting-up or relocating your company to Malta, or by assisting you with legal matters relating to gaming.
115B Old Mint Street, Valletta VLT 1515 - Malta T: (+356) 2015 7000 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.gonzi.com.mt Contact: David Gonzi - Managing Partner
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
GREENTUBE INTERNET ENTERTAINMENT SOLUTIONS GMBH
Greentube Internet Entertainment Solutions, the NOVOMATIC Interactive division, is a leading developer and supplier of iGaming solutions. Greentube is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NOVOMATIC Group, one of the biggest producers and operators of gaming technologies and one of the largest integrated gaming companies in the world. Greentube’s industry leading omni-channel technology allows the convergence of online, mobile and landbased games. The well-diversified product portfolio includes Classic Slots, Table Games, AWP Reloaded Slots, Server-Based Gaming, Social Casino Gaming, Bingo and more. Michael Bauer CHIEF FINANCE OFFICER/ CHIEF GAMES OFFICER
Wiedner Hauptstrasse 94, A-1050 Vienna - Austria T: (+43) 1 90 171 E: email@example.com W: www.greentube.com Contact: Michael Bauer - Chief Finance Officer/ Chief Games Officer
GRIFFITHS + ASSOCIATES
Established in 1982 and located in Naxxar, our firm of Certified Public Accountants offers a one-stop shop assisting businesses in carrying out activities in, from or through Malta. The firm’s activities include company incorporations, back-office services and international corporate structuring, especially within the context of Malta’s extensive tax treaty network and advantageous tax regime. Being members of PrimeGlobal, an international association of accountants and advisers, adds value to the servicing of clients’ needs within an international perspective. Peter Griffiths MANAGING & TAX DIRECTOR
Level 1, Casal Naxaro, Labour Avenue, Naxxar NXR 9021 - Malta T: (+356) 2738 3631 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.griffithsassoc.com Contact: Peter Griffiths - Managing & Tax Director
IGAMING IDOL LTD
Launched in 2015, iGaming Idol has quickly established itself as the foremost social event in the iGaming calendar and is now recognised as one of the most important awards in the industry. Since its inception iGaming Idol has celebrated the individual achievements of many people within the industry and has seen growth in both participation and awards categories each year. Alongside our prestigious partners and the Maltese Gaming Authority, iGaming Idol also carries out charitable support for one of the island’s most important charities, and has recently created HR Connect, a forum for Senior HR personnel who come together to learn and cohesively solve practical challenges the industry faces in Malta.
Tower Gate Place, Tal-Qroqq Street, Msida MSD1703 - Malta T: (+356) 7980 5080 E: email@example.com W: www.igamingidol.com Contact: Michael Pedersen - CEO
Jackpotjoy Group offers a range of top-class gaming products for desktop and mobile, each focusing on the user journey. There are hundreds of casino games for its global customer base to explore through well-established brands, such as Vera&John, InterCasino and Finlandia. Jackpotjoy Group prides itself on being one of the most dynamic and forward-thinking multi-brand casino companies in the world, and hires the best people in the business. Thanks to this team of talented individuals, Jackpotjoy Group has established itself as a major player within the casino industry. Jackpotjoy Group staff work hard and play hard, because they love what they do! Simon Wykes CEO OF JACKPOTJOY GROUP
The Emporium, Level 4, St Louis Street, Msida MSD 1421 - Malta T: (+356) 2778 1498 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.jackpotjoygroup.com Contact: Simon Wykes – CEO of Jackpotjoy Group
KAYEM CONSULTING LIMITED
KayEm Consulting is a multi-disciplinary firm of accountants and auditors with a focus on payments, gaming and blockchain. Our specialisation covers corporate, fiscal, financial, regulatory and compliance perspectives. The specific design and organisational structure of the firm allows it to understand the requirements of its clients in more focused and timely manner. Services offered include company incorporations, licensing, compliance and regulatory services, secretarial services, back office services, accounting, audit & assurance and tax consultancy. Keith Massa MANAGING PARTNER
3, Advance Business Centre, Triq Guze Flores, Santa Venera SVR1950 - Malta T: (+356) 2146 1443 E: Info@kayemconsulting.com W: www.kayemconsulting.com Contact: Keith Massa - Managing Partner
KPMG in Malta is a leading provider of professional services, including audit, tax and advisory specialisms - delivering integrated solutions to our clients’ issues. Our Maltese footprint (including KPMG Crimsonwing) translates into the largest professional services provider in Malta, with over 750 employees. Being part of a strong global network of member firms gives us a truly global mindset. With passion and purpose, we work shoulder-to-shoulder with our clients, integrating innovative approaches and deep expertise to deliver real results.
Tonio Zarb SENIOR PARTNER
Portico Building, Marina Street, Pieta’ PTA 9044 - Malta T: (+356) 2563 1000 E: email@example.com W: www.kpmg.com.mt Contact: Tonio Zarb - Senior Partner
Kyte offers a range of risk and compliance management services across a wide variety of industries. It is operating in 50 countries, headquartered in Malta with regional offices in Ukraine and representatives in South Africa, Singapore and Australia. We help clients identify their risk areas and support them in implementing practical and cost-effective solutions. Our objective is to assist companies heavily reliant on information and communications technologies to achieve their business objectives in a secure manner. The services that Kyte provides include: Remote Gaming Licensing, PCI DSS, ISO 27001, GDPR, AML, KYC, Fraud Management solutions and services, Vulnerability Assessment, Penetration Testing, Training and Crypto Compliance and Licensing.
DIRECTOR AND CO-FOUNDER
170, Pater House, Psaila Street, Birkirkara BKR 9077 - Malta T: (+356) 9943 6006 E: Alan@kyte.global W: https://kyte.global Contact: Alan Alden - Director and co-Founder
LA VALETTE CLUB
La Valette Club at Malta International Airport has been perfecting its VIP services for over two decades, with the aim of adding exceptional value to its guests’ airport experience. La Valette Club offers a variety of membership options, giving members access to the airport lounges and privileges such as complimentary parking and chauffeur and porterage services. Whether a frequent flyer or a business traveller, La Valette Club services are tailored to help guests save precious time and unwind before proceeding with their journey. In 2017, La Valette Club unveiled a completely revamped departures lounge boasting some very unique features, and received a prestigious highly commended rating from Priority Pass.
HEAD RETAIL AND PROPERTY
c/o Malta International Airport, Luqa LQA 4000 - Malta T: (+356) 2369 6516 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.lavaletteclub.com Contact: George Mallia - Head Retail and Property
MALTA GAMING AUTHORITY
Heathcliff Farrugia CEO
At the Malta Gaming Authority, our regulatory philosophy, organisational principles and culture are focused on player protection. Malta’s transparent legal framework and experience in regulating gaming has developed into a worldclass eco-system providing effective, innovative and efficient regulation. Our regulatory framework provides assurances both locally and internationally that fairness and transparency are at the core of everything that we do. To this effect, our licensees are associated with the highest levels of integrity and efficiency. We are recognised as a world-class authority in terms of innovation, governance and diligence. Mission Statement: “To regulate competently the various sectors of the gaming industry that fall under the Authority by ensuring gaming is fair and transparent to the players, preventing crime, corruption and money laundering and by protecting minor and vulnerable players.”
Building SCM 02-03, Level 4, SmartCity Malta, Ricasoli SCM1001 - Malta T: (+356) 2546 9000 E: email@example.com W: www.mga.org.mt Contact: Yorana Penza – Manager Corporate Affairs
MALTA REMOTE GAMING COUNCIL
The Malta Remote Gaming Council (MRGC) has been the voice of the industry with the Malta Gaming Authority since 2005. The MRGC has actively participated in local issues such as VAT, AML, GDPR and new regulations. The MRGC has contributed by participating in various committees which were set up to tackle ‘hot’ topics and always provided feedback to consultation documents such as most recently the AML/CFT industry specific guidelines and the new gaming act. The MRGC continues to contribute to the industry through participation in EU committees, liaising with other Associations and writing articles for key publications and websites. Alan Attard CHAIRPERSON
170, Pater House, Psaila Street, Birkirkara BKR 9077 - Malta T: (+356) 2757 7000 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.mrgc.org.mt Contact: Alan Alden - General Secretary
GAMINGmalta 2019 EDITION
MALTA SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY
Michael J. Zammit
Malta Sotheby’s International Realty was launched in 2013. Our distinct offering extends itself to both local and international clients seeking real estate investment opportunities, those seeking to relocate to Malta, and property owners looking to list and promote their property to qualified buyers. With more than 22.000 sales associates located in 72 countries worldwide, our global network is a commanding presence in the representation of the world’s most remarkable properties. Our team of specialised property experts offers a professional and personalised service – artfully uniting extraordinary properties with extraordinary lives. Services include: Residential Sales & Letting, Commercial Sales & Letting, Property Management and Relocation & Residency.
DIRECTOR AND JOINT OWNER
Sliema Office 200, Tower Road Sliema SLM 1602 - Malta T: (+356) 2010 8070 E: email@example.com W: www.maltasothebysrealty.com Contact: Michael J. Zammit - Director and Joint Owner
We are one of Malta’s leading multi-disciplinary business advisory and audit firms, with specialist knowledge in the iGaming industry, being an approved systems and compliance auditor by the Malta Gaming Authority. We take a holistic approach towards understanding your business and delivering our range of services in a more integrated manner. We act as a one stop shop with a niche focus on specialist knowledge in licensing, regulatory, accounting, payroll, auditing, tax, VAT advisory, internal audit, AML, compliance audit and corporate services. Powered by Mazars Group, we can call upon the skills of more than 20,000 professionals in 86 countries. Alan Craig PARTNER, BUSINESS ADVISORY & IGAMING SECTOR LEADER
32, Sovereign Building, Zaghfran Road, Attard ATD 9012 - Malta T: (+356) 2134 5760 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.mazars.com.mt/iGaming Contact: Alan Craig - Partner, Business Advisory & iGaming sector Leader
PAYMENTWORLD EUROPE LIMITED
PAYMENTWORLD Europe Limited is an e-money institution licensed by the MFSA in Malta and offers different services. With our extensive network of banks, acquirers and tech solutions, we support you, from processing your shop’s payments to issuing your own tokens or stable coins. With our technical solutions, we provide you with fast payments via SEPA Instant Payments, your own dedicated bank accounts and secure international payment processing in a matter of seconds. Our E-Wallet offers you a White Label solution that creates new multi-channel sales opportunities for your company. Our OMNI Channel Payment Gateway allows your shop to easily connect - whether online, via mobile or direct at the point of sale (POS).
CEO & FOUNDER
Skyway Office Block A, Suite 3 177, Marina Street, PTA 9072 Pieta - Malta T: (+356) 2778 0185 E: email@example.com W: www.paymentworld.eu Contact: Jens Podewski - CEO & Founder
Portomaso Gaming operates from Malta and works in close collaboration with its partners to provide a unique portfolio of products for the gaming industry. Two live casinos have been brought together into one virtual lobby, greatly expanding the gaming possibilities to online players. Effective synergies have been created by combining INNOVATION, QUALITY and EXPERTISE to deliver state-of-the-art solutions, which guarantee an excellent return on investment.
Level 3, Portomaso Business Tower, Portomaso, St Julians STJ4011 - Malta T: (+356) 2137 2292 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.portomasogaming.com Contact: Gianfranco Scordato - Executive Director
Gianfranco Scordato EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
PremierGaming founded in 2017 is a subsidiary of Angler Gaming PLC, a Maltese company listed on the Spotlight stock exchange in Sweden. PremierGaming’s mission is to be on the forefront with innovative and appealing products to our players. Premier Gaming develops and operates user friendly, innovative and secure sites that offer the ultimate online gaming experience like the recently launched ProntoCasino.com. PremierGaming is always on the lookout for proactive and talented individuals to join our dynamic team. Affiliates and media companies are more than welcome to contact us to promote our brands. Marvin Abela CEO
Office 1/3327 Level G Quantum Hse 75 Abate Rigord Str., Ta Xbiex XBX 1120 - Malta T: (+356) 7970 6825 E: Marvin.email@example.com W: www.premiergaming.eu Contact: Marvin Abela - CEO
RE/MAX Malta is a Real Estate Agency with 30 offices strategically located throughout Malta & Gozo. The company provides a comprehensive service in the form of residential and commercial property sales and letting as well as ancillary services such as Office Relocation, Property Management and Condominium Services. The company has a team of over 350 sales & letting associates that each specialise in different areas of the market. This, paired with one of the largest property databases on the island, certifies that your RE/MAX real estate agent can easily show you almost any property currently available on the market. Edward Agius REGIONAL LETTING MANAGER
76a, Gorg Borg Olivier Street, St Julian’s - Malta T: (+356) 2578 0000 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: letting.remax-malta.com Contact: Sam Zammit - Marketing & Technology Manager
RSM Malta is a member of RSM International; the 6th largest worldwide network of independent professional services firms, providing audit, tax and specialist advisory services to ambitious growing organisations around the globe. Locally, we employ a unique talent pool of over 170 staff in Audit, Tax, Outsourcing and Business Advisory (including licensing, compliance and disruptive technologies such as blockchain). Our set up enhances business efficiencies, reduces internal bureaucracy and underpins our client focused culture. It also assists our clients in readily connecting to partners and directors who are providing leading advice and great value for money by understanding where clients want to go and helping them to get there.
Mdina Road, Zebbug, ZBG 9015 - Malta T: (+356) 2278 7000 E: email@example.com W: www.rsm.com.mt Contact: Vladimiro Comodini - Partner
SiGMA is all about iGaming in Malta. The new, redesigned portal serves as a jobs board all year round to showcase the hundreds of vacancies and connect talent with great companies. SiGMA also organises a number of events, including the big show itself, Alpha Boot Camp, Affiliate Grand Slam, iGatherings as well as the Malta Blockchain Summit. The Summit of iGaming in Malta - SiGMA - has truly become one of the world’s largest iGaming expo.
Gaming Hub, Judge Paolo Debono Str. Msida Skatepark - Malta T: (+356) 9926 3626 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.sigma.com.mt Contact: Eman Pulis - Founder and CEO
Eman Pulis FOUNDER AND CEO
VacancyCentre (operated by CSB Group) is a small yet remarkably effective recruitment business sourcing needed by organisations of all sizes across a wide range of industry sectors, namely Financial Services, Legal & Compliance, Fintech, Gaming & IT, Administration, and Sales & Marketing. With 30 years of experience in the recruitment sector, VacancyCentre knows exactly how to reach the best people to fill almost any position. The foundation of our success is based on treating both candidates and clients as valued customers. We seek to establish trust and respect by providing an excellent recruitment service to our clients and being trusted career advisors to our candidates. John Dimech GENERAL MANAGER
Ground floor, Tower Business Centre, Tower Street, Swatar BKR 4013 - Malta T: (+356) 2123 2224 E: email@example.com W: vacancycentre.com Contact: John Dimech - General Manager
Videoslots was established in 2011 and has built a solid name for itself as being a player’s choice casino with over 3,000 games. It claimed The Best New Casino Award in 2014, and awards for Best Gaming Experience and Best New Casino in 2015. In 2016 and 2017, Casinomeister fans handed the casino awards for Best Casino, Best Casino Manager and Best Gaming Experience. ‘Battle of Slots’ is its most innovative feature, which took the industry by storm in 2015. Videoslots.com will soon launch a 3D poker product after the acquisition of technology assets from the PKR estate. This will continue to enhance Videoslots’ existing product offering. Alexander Stevendahl CEO
The Space, Level 2, Alfred Craig Street, Pieta PTA 1320 - Malta T: (+356) 7970 5570 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.videoslots.com Contact: Lorraine Sammut Employer Branding & Events Manager
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Mergers & Acquisitions Beyond our specialist Gaming team in Malta, KPMG possesses the competitive advantage of an unparalleled level of reach and diverse insight through its Global Gaming team. It is our network that makes us different – allowing our team to provide you with M&A advice from a global viewpoint.
KPMG – Awarded #1 M&A Advisor 2017 Thomson Reuters SDC and Mergermarket ranked the global Corporate Finance Practices of KPMG International’s network of independent firms as the #1 M&A middle-market adviser globally, based on the number of completed transactions for 2017.
Associate Director - Gaming +356 2563 1044 email@example.com
Partner, Head of Advisory +356 2563 1318 firstname.lastname@example.org
Director, Deal Advisory +356 2563 1106 email@example.com
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