Executive Traveller Issue 12

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executive traveller 12


where Gaming meets

Blockchain executive traveller  FREE issueCOPY 12 1 PRODUCED BY AVIAPROS.COM/ETM





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Throughout the years, Malta has managed to distinguish itself across a range of industries, ranging from tourism to a well-established financial, corporate and fiduciary services. An island that has been known for its breathtaking landscapes and sandy beaches has turned into a hub of growing knowledge-based sectors. Indeed, over a span of two decades, Malta has gradually morphed itself into a leader in the iGaming and a natural jurisdiction of choice. Indeed the island’s stable and attractive regulatory environment together with its geostrategic location right at the centre of the Mediterranean basin have earned Malta a reputation as one of the foremost tried and tested jurisdictions in the world. Today, almost 300 companies are involved in the iGaming industry, 10,000 people are directly or indirectly working for it and generates about €700 million for the Maltese economy – and counting. Keeping in mind its success in the gaming industry, Malta has gradually tapped into the world of Blockchain. As part of its goal to turn the Mediterranean nation into “Blockchain Island,” on the 4th July, the Maltese parliament passed three bills to set a regulatory framework and drive innovation in blockchain like technologies. The government hopes these laws will attract foreign financial tech companies to establish themselves in the country. The legislative win made Malta the first world jurisdiction to provide legal certainty to this space. Malta’s active role in the Blockchain industry has attracted the attention of giants in the sector including Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume. In the light of Malta’s key role in two major sectors, this publication brings to the fore the government, the key entities and the major exponents of the industries so as to provide a holistic picture of what has been achieved and where the country can go in the years to come. I wish you all a pleasant read! Andrea Trapani Editor and Publisher


Omar Vella Editor

the makers Publishing Editor

Andrea Trapani atrapani@aviapros.com Omar Vella marketing@aviapros.com

Advertising Executive Rebecca Pace adverts@unionprint.com.mt


Ryan Bezzina design@unionprint.com.mt


Union Print Co. Ltd. www.unionprint.com.mt



Aviapros International Ltd


Special thanks for the production of the 12th edition goes to Executive Aviation Malta as the main contributor and sponsor, as well as all other contributor and sponsor, as well as all other contributors for their time and images. We also thank all advertisers for their support to ensure the constant growth of the magazine.


For advertising in our next issue, please send an email to Ms Rebecca Pace on marketing@aviapros.com or +356 9944 1432, +356 7948 4888.

Executive Traveller Magazine is distributed for free to top hotels and venues, and is available at local and international business aviation conventions. The publication is also available online at: www.aviapros.com/ETM Disclaimer: Particular attention has been given to ensure that all the content of this magazine is correct and up to date as on date as issue. The views expressed in the articles and technical papers are those of the authors and are not neccessarily endorsed by the publisher. While every care has been taking during production, the publisher does not accept any liability for errors that may have occurred. Copyright© 2017.

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Malta’s unprecedented economic success is a result of a collective effort, the political will of decision makers but even more so, the hard work of our enterprises, our workers and our resilient institutions. We have a solid financial services sector and through innovative technologies we’ve vouched to enhance it even further. We are now leading the pack in emerging distributed ledger technologies, amongst them blockchain. This sector has been until now unregulated, with no peace of mind and serenity for both customers and business, with no checks and balances and no clear frameworks. Over the last months, the Maltese Government has actively sought how to position Malta as a major hub in terms of the digital economy which will play a central role in the economic sustainability of the years to come. The Maltese Government has legislated three acts that will provide legal certainty to the space, involving DLT and Digital Financial Products and Services, such as virtual currencies and ICOs. This environment has already attracted towards Malta some of the world’s leading companies that operate in the cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystem. Leading stakeholders are choosing Malta to host high level international events which will pave the way to further investment.


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LEVERAGING economic innovation The Hon.

SILVIO SCHEMBRI Junior Minister for financial services, Digital economy and innovation


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The Maltese economy has evolved very rapidly over the recent years experiencing an economic growth that is stronger when compared to other European peers. This growth is attributable to demand factors such as an increase in consumption expenditure but also to an increase in supply and in the productive capacity of our economy.

Our main economic sectors have evolved over the years, managing to generate value added across a range of industries, ranging from financial, corporate and fiduciary services and other knowledge-based sectors to high-end manufacturing. The next step is to increase further our productive frontier and make our economy more resilient to external shocks. Digital innovation is key. Competitiveness through productivity can only be attained if our products and services continuously evolve to reflect new technology, catering for new consumers’ needs and tapping into market gaps. An economy built on innovation is an economy that is forward-looking, in not only embracing change but also flourish in face of disruptiveness. Economic innovation means taking informed decisions; examining emerging trends, and taking calculated risks by venturing into risky but potentially highly rewarding new spaces.


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Josef Mercieca Tax and Fintech Partner BDO Malta The recently introduced regime will provide investors with the peace of mind and tranquillity which a regulatory atmosphere brings about. At same time, operators have been provided with clear parameters within which they can operate without stifling innovation. The combination of the two goals above, together with the voluntary regime applicable to innovative technological arrangements, has already placed Malta at the epicentre of the blockchain earthquake that is challenging the modus operandi of the commercial and financial world.

Joseph F Borg Partner – Gaming Advisory and Blockchain Advisory This is an exceptionally exciting time for Malta and is a further reminder of the forward-thinking mentality of the Maltese legislator. Unlike other jurisdictions, Malta will not just be regulating ICOs and Exchanges but all other services relating to blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. This step places Malta as the undisputed leader in this space, paving the way for the creation of an ecosystem for blockchain businesses to set up shop in Malta. I am confident that the regulators will now be capable of implementing this legislation in a pragmatic and efficient way, finding the right balance to achieve a high degree of consumer protection while ensuring that the regulatory framework is attractive for the industry and its stakeholders.


The 4th of July will go down in our economy’s history as the day when Malta decided to lead the change in the area of disruptive technology. Following months of discussions with the industry, authorities and regulators, three legal acts regulating Distributed Ledger Technology and services were enacted into law. This will pave the way to the creation of a new economic sector that hopefully can grow and replicate the success of the iGaming industry. The laws will provide legal certainty to a space that was completely unregulated. As a country, we have managed to lead in terms of legislative innovation by taking a very holistic approach, with the Acts looking not only at particular segments of this space but by looking at

the technology arrangement per se – something that was unprecedented on a global and historical level. Indeed, the Malta Digital Innovation Authority is entrusted to give recognition of DLT technological arrangement, while in the near future its remit will be extended to cover also Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Big Data and Quantum Technology. Now that The Blockchain Island is materializing, we can start exploring other areas that will contribute to our vision and put Malta on the map in becoming a hub for technological innovation. Technological innovation is considered as a major force for economic growth and Malta is ambitious enough to take the next step for it to become a powerhouse of economic innovation.


MARVIN GAUCI Chef and Entrepreneur Blockchain is the natural choice for the food industry. From tracking farming processes to bringing more transparency to the food chain, blockchain technology provides a secure and trusted way for multiple parties to conduct business together, removing silos and red tape. Blockchain allows me as a chef to sleep well at night knowing that people on the other end are doing the right thing.

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We are laying the foundations for economic innovation and Malta is leading the charge in the blockchain and crypto

We want to offer a complete ecosystem that is resilient and open for new talent, expertise and share of knowledge while making Malta the natural choice for investors.

sphere. The first world jurisdiction to provide legal certainty through a holistic regulatory framework that does not stifle innovation for operators that operate within this space.

We invested in the MITA New Emerging Technologies lab which is a safe haven for scientific and technological research lab. Through an investment of €250,000, the lab will serve as the place to develop a start up idea

A yearly appointment

related to emerging technologies,

for the blockchain and

be it through the use of a specific

tech community is during

equipment such as Virtual reality

DELTA Summit- Malta Government’s first Official Blockchain Event. It’s first edition was held in October and attracted over 4000 delegates from across the globe.

and more advanced technology such as IoT device. We’re exploring new economic niches in the thriving iGaming Industry at the Home of Gaming Excellence that of e-Sports. While doing so we introduced a new gaming act aimed at diminishing bureaucratic procedures for operators while strengthening the

We are strengthening the human resource and skill force. A €300,000 scholarship fund was

regulator’s work. We are strengthening our financial services regulator through law amendments that will

launched between

strengthen MFSA structures and

MITA and the University

operations. We’re also exploring

of Malta aimed at law, finance, engineering and management students who want to pursue further their studies at Master and PHD level in DLT and Blockchain

new economic niches such as FinTech and RegTech in aim of having a future proof financial sector in compliance with EU Directives.

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Dr Christopher P. Buttigieg is the Director of the Securities and Markets Supervision Unit of the Malta Financial Services Authority, which Unit is responsible for work in the field of policy, regulation and supervision of securities and markets and is composed of 30 officials. He joined the Authority in 2000 as a manager in the Investment Services Unit and has gained professional experience in different areas of financial regulation and supervision, and the investigation and enforcement of market misconduct and malpractice. Dr Buttigieg was responsible for implementing various pieces of EU legislation in the field of securities and markets and has led various regulatory and supervisory teams within the Authority. He is a member of the Authority’s Supervisory Council and represents the MFSA at various European Fora on financial regulation and supervision. He is the MFSA’s alternate on the ESMA Board of Supervisors. Dr Buttigieg has a commerce degree (B.Com 1998), an accountancy degree (B.Accty. Hons. 2000) and a financial services law degree (M.A. Fin. Ser. 2003) from the University of Malta, as well as a European Union Law degree (M.A. EU Law and Soc 2005) and a doctoral degree in law (Ph.D 2014) from the University of Sussex (UK). His Doctoral thesis deals with the governance of EU securities regulation and supervision. Dr Buttigieg is a lecturer in the Banking and Finance Department of the University of Malta and has published various papers on financial regulation and supervision in academic and professional journals, including the Columbia Journal of European Law, the ERA Forum, the Journal of Business Law, the Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance and the Law and Financial Markets Review.


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Interview with

Dr. Christopher P. Buttigieg, Head Securities and Markets Supervision at MFSA

Following the positive feedback received on the proposed introduction of a new legislative framework regulating Initial Coin Offerings (‘ICOs’) and the provision of certain services in relation to virtual currencies, the MFSA drafted and submitted to the Government the Virtual Financial Assets Act. Executive Traveller discussed with Dr. Christopher Buttigieg, Head Securities and Markets Supervision at the MFSA the importance Virtual Financial Assets regulations will play in the light of Malta’s key role in the Blockchain industry.

The MFSA has been working on the Virtual Financial Assets regulations for a number of months. Possibly the MFSA has not been seen as active for years. What is your vision for this sector and what is the Authority’s ultimate goal? Distributed Ledger Technology and cryptocurrencies are disruptive technological innovations which have the potential to reshape the financial services sector. Following the Government’s announcement of its policy decision to establish Malta as the Blockchain Island, there has been a wave of interest in virtual currencies as well as fintech. As with anything which is innovative, DLT and cryptocurrencies bring to the fore a number of challenges and opportunities for all stakeholders, be they regulators, industry players or investors. The MFSA’s vision is to continue developing a regulatory and supervisory framework which regulates the sector in an effective and efficient manner whilst at the same time fostering a stable and dynamic environment that encourages innovation. The MFSA has consistently sought to be a proactive regulator for financial services, holding the three main objectives of financial regulation - investor protection, market integrity and financial soundness – at the forefront of its agenda. In order to achieve these objectives within the DLT space, the MFSA has proposed a regulatory framework which sets out requirements for: the offering of virtual financial assets to the public in or from within Malta by an issuer; the application, by an issuer, for a virtual financial asset’s admission to trading on a DLT exchange; the activity of VFA Agents; and the provision of VFA services in or from within Malta; replicating the high level principles of existing EU financial services legislation. As aforestated, the Authority has sought to devise a framework that regulates effectively but which does not stifle innovation.

During these months the MFSA seemed to have changed direction in the sense that it has “raised the bar” for the accreditation of VFA Agents. How come the Authority felt the need to raise the bar only a few weeks after launching the first consultation paper? The MFSA considers the VFA agent as the gatekeeper, inter alia having the crucial role of preventing persons who are not fit and proper from entering the financial

system. The Authority wishes to ensure that only persons with the right competences and who are appropriately resourced will be eligible for registration as VFA Agents. It has come to the Authority’s attention that certain industry players are not sufficiently prepared to register as VFA Agents, and therefore the need to address an existing expectations gap, particularly in view of the inherent risks of this sector, has arisen.

Do you see the need for even stronger collaboration between Authorities that may interact with the sector? How do you envision such collaboration in order to ensure efficiency in compliance and avoidance of administrative costs for both Authorities and operators? The MFSA has, for the past year, been discussing the framework for DLT Assets - both at national and international level - with a number of stakeholders, including other authorities. The MFSA considers strong and effective collaboration between regulators to be crucial for an efficient, effective and robust regulatory framework. Synergies with other regulators, including the sharing of information will be essential for the Authority to successfully supervise this sector. Collaboration between regulatory authorities may be achieved by means of information sharing and regular discussions. This may benefit all stakeholders - both the authorities themselves and the operators, given that it may minimise administrative costs, for example by ensuring that there is no overlap in supervisory efforts.

Are there any other areas that the MFSA is working upon and will it manage to maintain the same momentum that it has achieved in the regulation of Virtual Financial Assets? The Authority shall, in the coming months, be publishing a strategy document outlining the key priority areas which shall be the focus of its efforts for the coming years. The MFSA considers fintech and regtech as areas where Malta, as a jurisdiction, can be a thought leader and innovator. In this respect, it is being envisaged that there shall be a significant increase in firms which adopt an innovative approach to financial services, for example by availing themselves of the various fintech solutions available

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Stephen McCarthy graduated with a B.A. Honours in Accountancy from the University of Malta in 1986, and went on to obtain a warrant as a Certified Public Accountant. Following to this, Mr. McCarthy worked in the financial field as Financial Controller and Financial Consultant with various companies. In 1989 he joined a team of professionals from various management fields who jointly set up The Management Advisory Group. The Group covered most areas of management, including Financial Management, and specialises in helping local and foreign businesses to restructure and to meet new market challenges. One of the group’s major assignments was the transition of the Water Works Department (Malta) to the Water Services Corporation between 1989 and 1992, in which Mr. McCarthy played a key role in the restructuring of the organisation and the commercialisation of its accounting system. Mr. McCarthy was appointed Finance Director of Greenpeace Mediterranean for five consecutive years, during which period he also formed part of the Greenpeace International Standardisation Board. During his working experience, Mr. McCarthy has been working with different local companies in various sectors such as the service, property development and gaming industries. He also held the position of Financial Controller of Bigpoint International Services Limited for four years. Furthermore, Mr. McCarthy served for five years as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Union Print Company Limited and two years as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Untours Insurance Agency Ltd. Recently, Mr. McCarthy was involved in the social area, where for five years he served as CEO of the Malta Housing Authority. All the noteworthy assignments for which Mr. McCarthy has been responsible during the past years have earned him considerable experience and credibility in the field of business development and management.


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A SOLID FRAMEWORK Interview with

Stephen McCarthy, Chief Executive Officer at Malta Digital Innovation Authority

Malta has recently made history by becoming the first jurisdiction in the world to have a legislative framework which seeks to provide clear regulations for companies using blockchain technologies. The laws in question are the Malta Digital Innovation Authority Act [MDIA], the Innovative Technology Arrangements and Services Act [ITAS] and the Virtual Financial Assets Act [VFAA]. These acts work together to provide a comprehensive framework for the industry. The MDIA Act provides for the establishment of a new authority, the MDIA, with the specific duty to promote and develop the innovative technology sector in Malta through the proper recognition and regulation of relevant innovative technology arrangements and related services. At the helm of the Authority is Mr. Stephen McCarthy, appointed as the first CEO of MDIA upon its foundation with whom we discussed the authority’s role, challenges and priorities.

How can Malta develop into a fully fledged hub for digital technology innovation? Malta already has a strong ICT infrastructure, a thriving economy and a strong ecosystem, the ideal ingredients that paved the way to make Malta a hub for digital technological innovation. It’s geographical size and position is of great asset as it can serve as a test-bed for new technologies. Apart from being The Blockchain Island, we want to make Malta the centre of excellence for Innovative

Technology Arrangements. We want the most talented people working within the industry to come to Malta and be protagonists in our exciting journey into the future.

Do you feel the country is knowledgeable enough on digital technology innovation and its various branches? Arriving to where we are today, that is leading the change in blockchain and cryptocurrency sphere is by large thanks to talented brains and visionaries Malta

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nurtured over the years. Investment and sustaining our only resource, that is the human resource is crucial and that is what we intend to do. We have strong iGaming and Financial Services industries in Malta which use the latest technology in the market to enhance and better their operations. Hence, well-trained workforce and knowledge about the subject is crucial thus one can notice how Authorities and even the private sector is preparing to train its skillforce to familiarize with this technology and the same thing is going on within the public sector through seminars, conferences and courses by MTIA for CIOs. A nation-wide awareness campaign is crucial so that not only the university graduates or students that are knowledgeable on this technology but even the man in the street must have a basic understanding of what blockchain is all about and how this technology can be of benefit to him or to the way he carries on business. Besides, what is exciting is that the companies that already expressed their interest in residing in Malta are willing to share their expertise, expert teams and know how. We have to bear in mind that this is a new industry not just for us but for the world thus it is of utmost importance to walk hand in hand in this journey for a strong blockchain ecosystem in Malta. On the other hand, the Government is already taking initiative and discussing with the University of Malta on introducing subjects related to this new industry. In fact this October, the University of Malta welcomed its first intake of students who are studying subjects related to Blockchain meaning that in 3 years’ time Malta will have the first graduates in this sector. On the other hand, it is remarkable to see that the private sector is being proactive in investing in new technology and courses related to this industry to enhance the work force and prepare it for the future.


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Malta’s success in key niche sectors lies in the presence of a robust regulatory support infrastructure that offers access to a full range of services and products whilst offering certainty. How will the Digital Innovation Authority ensure Malta plays a key role in the global digital economy? The most important challenge for MDIA is to create standards in a new evolving technology. Since we are dealing with a totally new technology we are willing to learn. This creates a huge challenge for MDIA since this is a new industry thus we have to think in a way that befits this new technology and above all we are all ears to what the technology experts say. For instance, the System Auditors requirements focus entirely on the abilities of the technical experts but at the same time listening to non-technical experts in this field such as lawyers and financial auditors is important. We are trying to do things differently through legislation, where we are attempting to offer legitimacy, transparency and reputational safeguards while in line with EU Directives.

How will the recent legislative developments help for a better regulation of virtual currencies and ICOs ? Malta has just introduced 3 very important laws namely MDIA, ITAS, and VFA. MDIA Act deals with the setting up of the Authority, ITAS Act deals with the technology arrangements and services such as that of a systems auditor and technical administrator and finally there is the VFA Act which deals with virtual financial assets. It is the latter which directly regulates virtual currencies and ICOs to be administered by the MFSA. On the other hand the MDIA is the authority/ regulator focusing on the standards of the technology, This newly established authority will assist with MFSA for raising the bar even from a technological aspect in order to make the use of such technology safer. Evidently, both Authorities have to work hand in hand to assure and provide the legal certainty, market stability, market integrity and financial stability operators within this space look for.

In what way will the MDIA regulate the registration and activity of Technology Service Providers? The bridge between the MDIA and Technology Service Providers is the System Auditors which will engage on commercial basis with the applicant. System Auditors have a crucial role for the delivery of the system audit and conduct a quality-based assignment focused professional ethics. System Auditors are our go-to source hence their reliability and credibility is crucial. In view of this just recently we have issued requisites which are for public consultation in order to start accepting applications for SA. Such requisites include High Level of Education in Technology, Experience in Technology in particular on the solution audited, Test and Interview. An individual must be an EU/EEA citizen and in case of an entity, at least 51% of the shareholding must be within EU/EEA.

What should we expect from Malta in this specific sector over the coming years? These laws were enacted because we truly believe that Blockchain, which is one type of DLT, is set to disrupt and innovate multiple sectors in society. Malta wants to actively in promote this new technology, its benefits and opportunities it holds. This is an industry still at inception with an impact likely to be as big as the internet. We want to provide a legal framework to innovative activity which is unregulated. We expect that this technology will have a drastic impact on how we do business and we will have to change the modus operandi of business operators in different industries. To my mind, this industry will become an important contributor to Malta’s economic growth offering a complete ecosystem which pays operators to operate from here. The Blockchain Island vision is now materializing hence in the coming months we can now focus on new innovative areas such as AI, IOT, Big Data and Quantum Technology which the authority will delve into. I look forward to what it holds for this new Authority and for Malta.

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Building the

blockchain island JP is the Managing Director of ARQ Economic & Business Intelligence, a specialised unit that applies economics to

Opinion piece by

JP FABRI, Managing Director of ARQ Economic & Business Intelligence

consumers, firms and policy. He is currently the Lead Director on blockchain and cryptocurrency at ARQ Group. JP is specialised in resilience-building strategies and was a Technical Consultant to The Commonwealth Secretariat and acted as advisor to 9 governments across 3 continents. Prior to joining ARQ Group, he formed part of the private secretariat of the former Prime Minister and of the Governor of the Central Bank of Malta. An economist by profession, JP followed post-graduate studies in economics and political economy at the University of Malta and the London School of Economics. He is also a visiting lecturer at the University of Malta.

JP Fabri | ARQ Group | jpfabri@arqgroup.com | +356 9940 8746

On November 1st 2018, three Bills of law establishing the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector in Malta become effective. After months of consultation and tweaking, the Bills are amongst the most holistic sets of legislation that any jurisdiction has put forward in the field of virtual financial assets.

This is yet another prime example of Malta’s capacity to use its jurisdiction in order to carve out niche economic sectors. If we just look around at the current economic pillars that sustain our economy and which include financial services and remote gaming, one would easily appreciate the power of regulatory vision and legislative frameworks that Maltese legislators have had in the past. Our present economic success is also built on the strong foundations that these sectors were built upon. The blockchain island vision has been built around the enactment of these three Bills. However, the development of an ecosystem is not only dependent on the regulatory frameworks. In fact, the legislative dimension is just one of a number of factors that determine the success of any ecosystem. As one can expect, having a vision and a strategy is key to building any ecosystem. In this respect, one must say that the Maltese Government had a very clear vision to establish Malta as the blockchain island and the setting up a task force, the publication of the National Blockchain Strategy and the enactment of these Bills are a strong testimony to this vision. This vision needs to now permeate into the different levels of government and civil service. We truly need a new era of governance and governing, one which is truly smart and digital. The blockchain offers some unique opportunities for efficiency-gains and cost-reduction and Government needs to now focus on revamping the civil service and ensure that it truly becomes a smart government. A lot of strides have been made in this regard, however there is need for a culture change within government and civil service to truly embrace this new digital era. The regulatory framework is also key to the deepening of any ecosystem. In this case, the regulatory element does not stop with the legislative acts. It is now crucial for the regulators involved, which include the newly set-up Malta Digital Innovation Authority, the MFSA and the MGA to deliver an efficient and quality-driven level of service to the industry. To this end, they require the resources and capacity to do so. Regulators must also foster an open dialogue with service providers and operators to ensure that feedback loops are present in the system. The service providers also play a key role in

developing the ecosystem. They will be the main touch point that foreign investors will face. They are the prime ambassadors of the jurisdiction and the responsibility is huge. It is therefore imperative that service providers respect the clients but also the jurisdiction itself and they must remain knowledgeable and always give professional advice. This brings us to another main determinant of the successful development of the ecosystem, education and human resources. As Malta’s labour market remains buoyant, human resources are probably one of the most pressing challenges that the economy is and will continue facing in the foreseeable future. In a sector which is knowledge-intensive, skilled and trained human resources are essential for its future. Our educational institutions become critical in this. The University of Malta is taking a lead in this however more efforts need to be taken to ensure that this sector and others will be adequately resourced in the years to come. Initiatives that were approved by the Government earlier this year to bring over more third country nationals are also necessary to sustain Malta’s economy. However, this is not without its own challenges and a holistic plan for human resources and integration of foreign workers is needed. Ecosystems also require support structures to operate effectively. In this case, the blockchain island requires a host of support structures which include an effective and supportive banking structure. Given that the sector will become regulated, it is expected that some of the main banks will service such an industry however Malta requires additional banking players, especially ones with good American correspondent banking facilities. In terms of financing and funding, there have been some positive announcements in this regard with a number of key players launching their own funds and financing facilities which will allow the development of a vibrant business community. An ecosystem does not only depend on a regulatory framework, albeit it is central to its sustainability. The blockchain island requires further initiatives to truly materialise and this will continue being work-inprogress. However, Malta has already emerged as a pioneer in this fast-growing industry. It is now the responsibility of all stakeholders, public and private, to ensure that we truly live to the expectation of becoming the blockchain island.

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Interview with

Dave Pulis, CEO of ZBX Exchange

Dave Pulis is the co-founder and CEO of ZBX, the European operations of ZB.COM, a top 5 Crypto exchange. Dave is also the co-founder of EuroMed Capital, consulting clients in a number of sectors including Finance, Medical Cannabis, Waste Management and DLTs. He started trading high net worth accounts whilst studying Commerce at the University of Malta and later worked at a brokerage firm where he was introduced to the world of Cryptocurrencies.

They’ve seen that Malta has a proper regulatory infrastructure that exists in no other place in the world.


major market players Malta’s reputation as a global fintech and cryptocurrency hub has recently attracted the attention of one of the world’s major crypto exchange, ZB.com. The company, which is the world’s 5th largest cryptocurrency exchange by traded value, will open an office on the island from where it will initially start out as a ‘cryptoto-crypto’ style operation, and will eventually look to offer a ‘fiat-tocrypto exchange’ on the European island nation. ZB.com will be investing over $20 million in the first three years of its operations in addition to creating 150 jobs. Executive Traveller recently met Dave Pulis, CEO of ZBX Exchange (a separate legal entity set in Malta to develop ZB’s expansion in Europe) to discuss what attracted the Chinese giant to Malta and their plans for the future.

Last August, it was announced that ZB.com have established their first European hub, by launching a new Exchange here in Malta. Why did you feel that ZB had to expand its operations in the European Market, and why now? CHBTC (ChinaBTC) have been operating for about 5 years. After the China clampdown on crypto exchanges they moved operations and renamed ZB.COM. No exchange wants to operate in a regulatory limbo where they could get shut down without notice. Setting up operations on THE Blockchain Island was a logical choice. There is a Chinese Wall (excuse the pun) between ZB and ZBX with separate operations. The AML/DD/KYC procedures in Europe are very different than the ones adopted in China, however we cannot ignore the benefits that come with consolidating operations in multiple jurisdictions, especially when the crypto exchange market is getting more crowded and competitive.

As of the 8th of October, ZB.com is listed by coinmarketcap.com as the third largest Cryptocurrency Exchange in the world, by a trade volume of more than $700 million. Is the future bright for your company? And do you believe that ZB.com’s decision to enter the European market will further expand your Exchange? The biggest factor for trader deciding where to trade is liquidity. There are many announced operations setting up shop in Malta and this is good for the industry as it encourages innovation. Unfortunately many of the small operations might not be around in 1-2 years time. We are expecting the Mergers and Acquisition space to be vibrant very soon where companies consolidate their operations in what is the world’s most competitive industry.

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 And why did you choose Malta? In your opinion, what benefits does our country offer, especially when compared to other European jurisdictions? The 3 Bills so far passed by Malta regulating the crypto space are unprecedented and encompass many parts of the businesses that ZBX and its broader group are engaged in. We regularly have talks with our lawyers and keep an open line of communication with the regulator. One theme that has been surfacing in most of the discussions is that this is a learning curve for all concerned, including the regulators and those advising our business. Once the novelty wears out and there is practical experience, the market will mature and keep readjusting itself until it finds its balance within the local and, in time, the European regulatory framework. We hope this will be sooner rather than later.

Malta recently launched a number of new regulations on DLT and Blockchain technology. In your opinion, what effect have these regulations had on the market? The full effects of the bills still have to emerge. Many companies have announced that they are moving or setting up here. From an economic standpoint it is safe to say that the DLT/blockchain sector will be a good contributor to the Maltese economy. From an operational standpoint, it is too early to say whether the bills will deliver the robust framework that they were designed for. No one expects the journey to be seamless. Malta has been a trailblazer and being the first always entails a steep learning curve. This is why it is such an exciting time to be working in this industry. We will look back in 10-20 years time and tell our children that we were on the forefront of the blockchain revolution.

Do you believe that other financial jurisdictions ought to (and will) follow Malta’s example, and create a similar regulatory framework for DLT and Blockchain products? What roadblocks need to be overcome in doing so? From an operator standpoint, we look forward for other jurisdictions to follow on Malta’s footsteps in regulating the space. We hope that the frameworks between different jurisdictions align themselves with each other so it would be easier to passport services from one jurisdiction to another. Ultimately for this to materialise we need a European wide framework that regulates the space without stifling innovation.

There is still an element of distrust, from a number of governments, agencies or even multi-national corporations about Blockchain and DLT, specifically issues related to security, mass-usage and decentralisation. Do you believe that the tide of public opinion is successfully turning your way? If you ask the same question to different people you get different answers. The main reason is the logic and motivation behind their answers. Compliance people will above all make sure that the compliance procedures are in place and can tick the boxes imposed by their regulators. Governments are beginning to be very receptive but any technology that is adopted would need to be tried and tested since they cannot take liberty with risks. Private companies will likely take a leap of faith if the product looks solid and the financials make sense. What I am saying is that some players will adopt DLTs much faster than other due to the nature of their industries or operations. As more trust is gained in various sectors, consensus starts building and the dream of permeating blockchain into every aspect of our lives edges closer to reality.

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Robert F. Koenig has lived in several European countries, speaks multiple languages and is a passionate believer in modern management technologies. His experience and knowledge of leadership has led to appearances on several television programmes, including European Business News and American News. Since 2015 Robert is involved in Cryptocurrencies, investing in ICOs and shaping the industry from the application point of view. He is a non-executive director in a multitude of companies and is also well known for his public speeches. Robert is also a member of Tomorrows Company and The German Industry Association.

Blockchain Technologies

for small countries Robert Koenig, Founder and Executive Director of XENTAVO

Small countries are characterized by the World Bank by a small population, limited human capital, and a confined land area. Small countries have always been dependent on the support of larger countries or international organizations, and in many cases, larger local problems can only be resolved with external support.

Current issues of small countries Looking at the current situation, and again according to the World Bank, small countries share the following challenges:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Governments must play a significant role due to the high demand for expenditures.

Providing public services to small scattered populations can be costly.

Small island states are highly exposed to climate change and natural disasters.

Recurrent financial, climate, and disaster shocks reduce the fiscal space.

Small countries rely on international finance to supplement their fiscal envelopes.

Small countries do not easily fit the standard development model.

Typical policy regimes include common currencies (often linked to the USD), currency boards, and fixed or heavily managed exchange rate regimes, and domestic monetary policy tends to be imported from abroad.


Small countries lose the nominal exchange rate as a flexible adjustment mechanism and must rely on flexible wages and prices to absorb shocks.

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Blockchain management of small country sovereign currencies

Blockchain Technologies and small countries Software may not always be the best solution to a problem – yet many times it can prove a valuable enabler to modern world issues. And with the creation and ongoing popularity rise of Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) – of which blockchains are the most popular example – the trust gap has been closed, opening the door to new solutions.


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Small countries historically suffer from a host of financial problems. While many solutions have been proposed and attempted, existing means have offered little success. The first step toward the historic resolution of these problems should therefore go beyond current solutions. In this light, it is right that we consider an entirely different approach, one that can truly benefit the citizens of the countries involved with actionable change. By drawing upon blockchain technology and further DLT solutions as the field advances, small countries finally have a chance to make the fundamental evolution required across management of both their sovereign currencies and all related financial procedures. The many benefits of blockchain-based financial development include:

 Efficiency:

Remittances and international transfers will become significantly faster and cheaper, with open-ended potential for refinement as small country situations regroup with larger state economies.  Independence: The need for correspondent banks will be removed by DLT, enabling small countries to exercise their independence and minimize new debt. Small country governments will also be able to interact directly with their populations, promoting national productivity without intermediary inclusion of foreign banks or other third parties.  Transparency: All funds involved in DLT processes are 100% traceable with money unable to “disappear” in a blockchain. Interested parties of any level (from government to citizen) are able to check the details of national funds at any time, preventing corruption and theft.  Disaster response: The immediacy of blockchain transfer means that, in case of emergency, small country governments can react financially within minutes. This benefit is of vital importance to many small countries, for example those that make up the Caribbean and other archipelagos susceptible to natural disaster.  Automation: Blockchain ledgers and related DLT automation technologies exhibit the latest in digital money management potential. Smart contracts are one main feature, ensuring that transfers and other arrangements are carried out transparently every time, with zero need for a third party.  New Possibilities: Loans, grants and more financial procedures can be conducted directly between government and consumer. These many forms currently include know-your-customer and antimoney-laundering procedures, credit checks, taxes, payment plans and recurring transactions – a list of possibilities that will continue to grow along with national progress.  New Financial Instruments: Instead of issuing bonds (a tool used by large countries yet not available to small countries) or applying for grants/loans to fund larger projects, a small country government can use an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) as a funding mechanism. ICOs are the most efficient and cheapest funding process of the digital age – easier to create than bonds and capable of attracting a global investor base. The potential of ICOs is still being realized, and the future is bright.

Blockchain transformation of small country civic service Furthermore, blockchain technologies offer a new route for small countries to replace, consolidate or optimize their array of essential government services – from record keeping processes such as health and safety, court, vehicle, identity (passports, visas etc.) to notarizations and certificates like birth/death, building permits and business licenses. The smart contract technology of DLT – as well as further supporting mechanisms – will enable the removal of historic fraud and identity theft issues from these fields. Public procurement – defined as the purchase of goods, services and works by governments and state-owned enterprises – plays a major role in fostering public sector efficiency and establishing national trust. Blockchain technologies provide small country governments with the best means to practice successful public procurement, with each phase of the process logged clearly and with full transparency on the blockchain. All parties are able to access and review all related data with free access to public procurement information, from the very beginning of the budgeting process to the conclusion of national fund adjustments. Blockchain technology is responsible for this massive step in promoting honesty throughout small country procurement, benefiting both national citizens and relations with larger states. The result is an overdue state of clarity, and only the start of what is now possible with digital money management solutions for small countries.

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PR and Marketing of ICOs by Omar Vella and Reuben Buttigieg The launch of ICOs has over the last few months been simplified. The general impression may be that this is a simple system that will generate financing for any imaginable project in a short period of time. If one follows the ICOs issuances or token issuances around the globe, one may note that most of these ICOs failed or are heading to failure. The reasons for such failures vary. Certainly, one of the main issues at the moment is the damage that some players have done to the market with the issuance of non-feasible projects or even scams. This damage is now mitigated thanks to Malta’s recent enactment of legislation aimed at regulating the sector. Consequently, more investor confidence is built given that there is a mechanism that monitors these issuers. Investors’ confidence needs to be built also on the specific project. A mere issuance and registration with the Malta Financial Services Authority will not mean that the project will attract the necessary financing. It entails a lot of hard work in attracting the right investors at the right time and there are various considerations that one will need to make prior to the issuance and also on the timing of the issuance. There needs to be a strong PR and Marketing Strategy if the issuance is to be a successful one.


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First and foremost, one needs to ensure that the prerequisites of the white paper for registration are met as otherwise this cannot be registered with the Malta Financial Services Authority. In order to build confidence one needs to ensure that the project is very clear as well as the roadmap of that project. The investor needs to be assured that if the project fails or is not meeting the specified targets, one may be reimbursed with the investment made. The investor needs to know on how the progress of the project will be communicated in order to get assurance that their funds are safe or at least not being tampered with. All this needs to be taken into consideration in the communications strategy prelaunch. Another important factor in the launch phase is the timing. One needs to understand what is going on in the market and depending on the targeted investors, choose the right time to launch and leave the

issuance open for a planned period of time that from a PR perspective is feasible. It is useless to launch an issuance during Christmas period in Christian countries. Likewise, it is useless to launch an issuance during the Ramadan period in Muslim Countries. The medium of communication to prospective investors is also important. Many may think that this is simply a question of social media. However, it is much more than that. Experience has proven that a mix of events including presence in events is also important. Indeed, today there are also events for investors. Some of these events have attracted considerable investors and the most successful ICOs seem to have been present at such events. Smaller entities may not necessarily be in a position to be present at investors’ events. However, they can still have a strategy through which they can reach prospective investors and give a personal element to the project adding credibility. In spite of the fact that we are in a digital era persons still like to interact and may be more comfortable to invest in projects they have seen or that they have met the

promoters of such project. It is important to have an adequate advisory board that transmits credibility. The key persons behind the project need to transmit credibility in terms of knowledge and reputation. There also need to be the right mix of knowledge in the advisory board. The board needs to show that it has sound knowledge on the project, financing, legal perspective, marketing and strategic direction. The failure of an appropriate mix will lead to possible failures at least in terms of attracting the right investors. Prior to launching any issue one needs to ensure that all the necessary reputational, regulatory and required know how is in place. Following that an appropriate PR Campaign needs to be put in place together with its implementation plan. Omar Vella and Reuben Buttigieg are Directors of Maltapoint Limited, a Public Relations Company. They may be reached on omar@maltapoint.com and reuben@ maltapoint.com

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Gordon Micallef is a Partner responsible for Business and Technology Consulting services. He has over seventeen years experience in delivering IT assurance and technology consulting services. He directs a multi-discipline team delivering process improvement, risk management, and project management services across various industries and has extensive experience in helping organisations bridge the gap between business and IT, manage the change, and deliver digital transformation. He was one of the founders of the ISACA Malta Chapter and served as President of the Chapter between 2007 and 2009. He also served on several committees and task forces for ISACA International including global chapter oversight, leadership conferences, and EuroCacs. Gordon is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified in Enterprise Governance of IT (CGEIT), and Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC), and Prince2 Practitioner.


Gaming Blockchain


Interview with

Gordon Micallef, Partner responsible for Business and Technology Consulting services at RSM

A decade ago, Malta made waves with the enactment of its remote gaming regulations, resulting in it being recognised as a world-class jurisdiction for regulated online betting and gaming operations. Now, Malta has set its eyes on the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry, seeking to repeat the gaming industry’s success story. Executive Traveller recently met Gordon Micallef, Partner responsible for Business and Technology Consulting services at RSM the recent developments in the global gaming industry and the inroads made by the island in the Blockchain sector.

Malta has often been touted as the jurisdiction of primary establishment for most operators within the gaming industry. What makes the country stand out of the crowd? The advantageous environment in Malta for operators within the gaming industry is multifaceted ranging from a robust regulatory regime as well as the overall environment and work ethic. The updated regime, let us remember that Malta was the first jurisdiction to regulate remote gaming, has moved towards a holistic approach with the

aim to further streamline bureaucracy and facilitate operators. From a fiscal perspective (contributions and license fees) it is more advantageous to B2B operators and such move will enable the industry to grow further and move along in time by catering for more advanced business models. The B2C, even though shifting towards a GGR based contributions still remains competitive when compared to other jurisdictions. The length of experience, the gaming community and the overall Malta infrastructure (weather and all) makes Malta the place to be in.

The Maltese Parliament has recently approved a new Gaming Act. What are the salient features of The Gaming Act? The aim of the new Gaming Act is to modernise the gaming framework and embrace the future. The Authority has adopted a flexible approach rather than a prescriptive one, to allow room for innovation. The new Gaming Act has implemented a simpler licensing framework with the introduction of an overall B2C and B2B licence to replace the previous range of classes. A corporate or group license has also been introduced further facilitating the licensing administrative burden and costs. The licence period is 10 years (previously 5 years). The Act also pushes towards a wider footprint with the introduction of a number of key functions to replace the key official role. The Gaming Tax and Licence Fees have also changed dramatically to include specific taxes from Maltese players and are now based on GGR. B2B operators are now only subject to a fixed annual licence fee, thus making it more attractive. The Act also combines the land-based and remote gaming industries into one piece of legislation which has cut-out any contradictory legislation and prepared the land-based industry to move forward with the ever-changing and technologydriven remote gaming industry. In what way will the Gaming Act strengthen the Maltese Gaming Authorities’ (MGA) ability to uphold and enforce compliance and regulatory guidelines? The regulator has always focussed efforts on player protection through responsible gaming measures and enforcement on all licensees. The authority has over the years moved towards a more risk based approach and has also increased its team so as to be in a better position to monitor compliance of licences. Various units have been setup within the authority has also included a number of technical solutions, including the online portal to allow open and efficient communication with the licensees. The Gaming Act introduces an administrative review process whereby licensees may appeal decisions taken against them by the Authority through a judicial process in line with natural justice principles. This coupled with the Authority’s new supervisory powers, sheds light on the commitment to render the regulator more accountable whilst improving transparency. The primary objective of the new Gaming Act is to ensure

the safeguarding of public policy, public security, public health and protection of the environment. The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has published a consultation document in March to commence the discussion among stakeholders for the introduction of DLTs and VCs in gaming. Should we expect a happy marriage between the two worlds? DLTs and VCs are here to stay and will be soon part of our daily lives. Undoubtedly there are increasing pressures from the industry to introduce the VCs, however the regulatory constraints (particular AML regulations) are still a show stopper and further maturity in this areas is required. The very low or inexistent transaction costs for VCs is primary reason for the industry to push for regulations in this respect. Malta is on the path to becoming the crypto hub and be a leader in the DLT area with many global players already setting up and actively moving here. This coupled with the already thriving gaming ecosystem as well as the strong regulatory framework is indeed promising. What major challenges does blockchain offer to the gaming industry? First and foremost is the use of cryptocurrencies, and the implied payment facilities, both positive and negative connotations, offered by cryptocurrencies. Aspects such as transparency, freedom come to play in the payments aspects of the gaming industry, The shortage of skills at a national level is stretching the challenges further for the gaming industry too. The opportunities that DLT technologies bring to the gaming industry also revolve around creating a transparent and secure peer to peer gaming market. In what way can Blockchain ensure Malta ‘continues to play a leading role in the gaming industry? With the advent of the MDIA and ITAS, Malta as ideally placed to marry blockchain technology and the gaming industry. With a robust gaming regulation, and now with a leading “first of its kind” DLT regulation, underpinned by a strong eco system that embraces these evolutions, Malta is tangibly on the forefront to remain relevant to the gaming industry.

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The Malta Gamin Industry in numb



â‚Ź1.1 billion The direct contribution of the gaming industry to the Maltese economy

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â‚Ź66.3m Revenue generated by MGA licence fees, gaming tax and other administrative fees and fines

9,800 full time jobs created within operators directly in the sector and other associated businesses

6,600 Full time jobs directly generated by the gaming industry

g bers

287 Remote gaming companies licensed by the MGA

13.9 million Active customer accounts under the Class 1 group of licences

910,202 The total number of visits to local casinos

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Malta’s Gaming Industry Performance

The Malta Gaming Authority Report 2017 published earlier this year clearly shows that Malta continues to represent Europe’s most complete gaming ecosystem. After a decade of constant growth, the industry is still performing well with almost 290 companies engaged in remote gaming operations. Moreover, (excluding public administration) the gaming industry has consolidated its position as the third-largest sector in the economy, exceeding in terms of size of value added other sectors which were traditionally major economic pillars. Furthermore, gaming contributes to the generation of value added through inputoutput linkages in other major sectors, including professional services, financial and ICT activities, hospitality and catering services, distributive trades and real estate.


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The gaming industry is estimated to have generated just over €1.1 billion in terms of gross value added in 2017. This represents a 10% growth over 2016. As a result of this momentum, the gaming industry’s share in economic activity over the past years has increased, to stand at around 11.3% by 2017. The gaming industry directly accounted for over 6,600 jobs in fulltime equivalent terms as at the end of 2017. This represented an increase of almost 500 jobs over 2016, with the industry thus accounting for 4% of the entire increase in employment in Malta during the year. The growth in employment was spurred by the number of new jobs in the remote gaming sector which increased by around 530 from the comparable period in 2016. Conversely, the number of new jobs in the land-based gaming sector declined by around 50 jobs, reflecting the timing of specific events organised during the year. It is estimated that the expenditure by gaming firms in Malta generates the equivalent of an additional 3,100 fulltime equivalent jobs in other economic sectors with high value added. A survey carried out by the MGA for the year 2017 indicates that when taking into account indirect employment, the total employment in the gaming industry was estimated to be around 9,800 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs. The Malta Gaming Report notes that these positive results are corroborated by the latest published data on employment for 2017, which indicate that the Gambling and Betting activities employed around 7,000 FTEs by the end of 2017. Compared to the previous year, this implies an increase of around 1,000 jobs in FTEs terms. The sustained growth in employment further attests to the sector’s significant contribution to the Maltese economy.

The growth registered by the gaming industry activity in Malta in 2017 exceeded expectations, both in terms of performance in earlier years as well as in the context of the development of gaming activity globally. This, in part, reflects the development of a new Gaming Act, which is repositioning Malta as one of the most forwardlooking jurisdictions globally, thus attracting new companies and providing the right environment for existing operators to expand their operations. The number of companies licensed in the Maltese jurisdiction increased by around 11%, while the number of licences recorded a growth rate of 22% during 2017, as shown in Table 1. The fact that companies based in Malta are expanding their operations, while new ones are relocating to the country, is reflected in the growth in employment. The latter is also attributable to changes in the nature of the gaming business towards consolidation of service delivery robustness, quality and consumer satisfaction, which were, in good part, driven by regulatory requirements. Business, in general, also sought to acquire professional skills to enhance marketing activities. This places the sector in Malta on a stronger footing in terms of quality of service provision and compliance, which is conducive to enhancing the reputation of the industry. The Malta Gaming Authority Annual Report 2017 predicts a further growth this year and for 2019. This will, in part, be underpinned by the industry outlook at a global level, which, according to most sources, is a positive one. More importantly, this outlook reflects business developments within the Maltese jurisdiction itself. Results of surveys undertaken by the MGA indicate an expected growth in Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) and employment, averaging around 15% in terms of GGR and 10% in terms of employment. At the same time, existing operators expect to increase their expenditure in Malta, in a range of around 8% to 13% per annum over the next two years, thereby further contributing to the growth, in particular, of the services, retail and real estate sectors. These effects will most likely be compounded by activities of new investors in Malta. Expectations of land-based operators are also positive but somewhat less upbeat than those of remote gaming firms.

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 39

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executive traveller ďƒ˜ issue 12

 can meet with most of your suppliers face-toface really helps you in building professional relationships with them. Another benefit that cannot be overlooked is that Malta, after 15 years of iGaming, today has a talent pool that is equipped and experienced with the skill sets required for our industry.


40 alta was the first EU jurisdiction

Malta has been a great environment for THE MALTESE GAMING IN LeoVegas to grow. Our office is situated in to issue gaming licenses and this the center of SliemaTHE with an office space that MALTESE GAMING INDUSTRY IN NUMBERS was a major factor in attracting the more or less has it all, including terraces with industry to the island. Over the years, multiple almost 360-degree views. A combination of HEADLINE INDICATORS operators started operating from Malta and Mediterranean weather and a fast pace workeventually that started attracting a wider base ing environment has created a great environHEADLINE INDICATORS of companies, including gaming providers, ment for us to attract and retain talent. The gaming industry is estimated to have generated just over €1.1 billion2 in terms of gross payment gateways, etc. shown in Table 1. This represented a 10% growth over 2016, when the industry had already The gaming industry is estimated to have generated just over €1.1 billion2 in terms of gross value added in 2017, as by a similar amount. As2016, a result this momentum, the with gaming industry’s share in e The LeoVegas Malta office started off shown in Table 1. Thisadded represented a 10% growth over whenofthe industry had already increased its gross value past years increased, to stand the at around 11.3% byshare 2017. Chart 1 indicates that, added by a similar amount. As a has result offive this employees momentum, gaming industry’s in economic activity over theexclud Nowadays almost all major iGaming operjust and today we are over past years has increased, to stand industry at aroundhas 11.3% by 2017. Chart 1 indicates that,third-largest excluding public administration, the gaming consolidated its position as the sector in the economy, e ators have a representationthe ongaming the island 350 lions. We really wanted go economy, the extra industryand has consolidated itsother position as thewhich third-largest sectorto in the exceeding in terms of size of value added sectors were traditionally major economic pillars. Furthermore, g of value addedtheir other generation sectors which were major economic pillars. Furthermore, gaming to the prof ofmile valuetraditionally added it through input-output linkages in other majorcontributes sectors, including some of them have even made Malta when came to office environment and generation of value added through input-output linkages in other major sectors, including professional services, financial activities, hospitality and catering services, distributive trades and real estate. HQ base. Apart from that, another benefithospitality isand ICTand our Operations teams have managed to and ICT activities, catering services, distributive trades and truly real estate. that by operating from a country in which you create a fun, yet professional atmosphere. TABLE 1: HEADLINE INDICATORS OF GAMING INDUSTRY ACTIVITY
















Number of licences (remote) Number of licences (remote) Number of companies in operation Number of companies in operation Gross value added (€m) Gross value added (€m) Employment - Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) jobs3 Remote

Employment - Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) jobs3 Remote

Wayne Pisani,

2015 2017

490 625 294 276

€1,108.4 €901.9 6,673



Having been at the forefront in creating799 a clear regulatory 866 Land-basedframework for online gaming services gave Malta an edge to


Gaming tax revenue (€m)


4,707 812




Gaming tax revenue attract a(€m) talent pool and business community that continue


Note: Number of licences (remote) and number of companies in operation relates to stock as at the end of December and refers solely by to contributing to the growth of the sector. to the MGA licensed entities.

Note: Number of licences (remote) and number of companies in operation relates to stock as at the end o to the MGA licensed entities.



Alessandro Fried, Chairman of BtoBet


Other incl. Public Admin



Human Resources is the major challenge the local iGaming industry offers to all operators. Any iGaming company vying the opportunity to relocate to Malta needs to keep in mind this key fact.

Construction Other incl. 3.6% Public Admin


Real Estate






Real Estate

Distributive, Accommodation, 4.9% Food Services




Prof, Admin, Support Services

Distributive, Acco Food Services





ICT Financial

Prof, Admin,


6.2% Services Support


ICT 12 executive traveller  issue Financial


National Statistics Office.




A GREEN POINT OF VIEW Interview with

Jesper Kärrbrink, CEO of Mr Green Ltd.


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Originally launched to a Swedish market back in 2008, Mr Green has spread his umbrella and is now a major online Casino operator throughout Europe. Indeed, the company today offers online casino, Sportsbook, Live Casino, Bingo, and Keno. Mr Green Ltd is regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority in Malta. Mr Green is also licensed and holds gaming licenses in UK, Italy, as well as a casino license in Denmark and a Sportsbook license in Ireland. The head office of Mr Green is in Sliema, Malta. Executive Traveller met Jesper Kärrbrink, CEO of Mr Green Ltd. with whom we discussed the company’s growth, its experience on the Maltese market and their plans for the future.

In a recent interview, you noted that the gambling industry is innovating “too little”. Can you elaborate? I was referring to the casino industry where the customer offer has been consistently the same for the past decades. This is understandable in the case of the land-based part of the industry, but one would expect more from the iGaming industry. To a large extent, we are broadcasting radio via TV technique (as when the TV was new). But at the same time, I think there are some exciting innovations coming up, with sportsbook leading the way. How can the industry be innovative? By challenging itself in every aspect. Moreover, by understanding that we are missing a large part of the population as our customers today are not interested in playing standard casino games. We need to think differently, deliver the next generation of games and products that will cater to a larger population.

It was recently noted that Malta is fast becoming “the jurisdiction of primary establishment for most operators within the industry.” What makes the island so attractive? Aside from the climate +300 days of sunshine and the sea, I would say that Malta has succeeded in building an eco-system for iGaming. A bit like Silicon Valley for the tech industry. On which areas can the country improve its deliverables? The increased cost of living is one concern short term. This will push up salaries eventually making Malta too expensive for certain functions. What should we expect from Mr. Green in the coming months? A lot of cool stuff :)

Human Resources continues to be a major challenge for the industry. In what way can the shortage of resources be better addressed? This is a difficult question with the industry growing as it is. But I think we have done a good job as an industry in attracting great talents. Today the iGaming industry is a stepping stone in any career path. We are fast changing, we are responsible, we use modern technology and data to optimise the product and all this happens in a very competitive environment. If we can keep developing this we will always be able to attract talent. How has Mr Green evolved throughout the years? I would say that we are a totally different company today compared to 5 years ago, much bigger, more people, more brands, and more verticals among others. Yet still with the same core values and strong belief in offering entertainment in a responsible way.

What is entertainment for Mr. Green? Playing at Mr Green should be fun and entertaining. We never wanted to be just another casino, but a brand that stand for something more. We always strive to be a cut above the rest to offer a superior gaming experience where you feel safe. That’s why we launched our Green Gaming Predictive Tool where we help our customers keeping track of their gameplay and risk level. Green Gaming is about having fun and feeling safe.

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Living up to one’s


Interview with

Heathcliff Farrugia, CEO of the Malta Gaming Authority


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In the light of the constant developments in the global gaming industry, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) continues to evolve to ensure a solid structure in which operators can work. The recent enactment of the new Gaming Act earlier this year was a historical step which will see the local Gaming industry positively project itself to the future. Heathcliff Farrugia, CEO of the MGA, spoke to Executive Traveller about the Malta’s evolution into a major global gaming hub, and outlined MGA’s main objectives for the coming years.

The last decade has seen Malta emerge as the undisputed front-runner in the regulation of the online gaming industry. In what way can the country continue to play a leading role on the market in the next decade? The key factor lies in our reputation. In line with this principle, the MGA has established a licensing regime, which is very robust and transparent. Our requirements for compliance are very stringent, and the additional powers introduced with the new gaming act, coupled with the introduction of the 4th anti money laundering directive earlier this year, ensure the

MGA is well equipped to keep the industry it regulates free from crime, whilst also ensuring optimal levels of consumer protection. Over the years, we managed to build a solid reputation, coupled with a unique gaming ecosystem. A number of very reputable operators have established themselves in Malta, and it is our role of Regulator to make sure that these continue to operate in full compliance with the laws and regulations governing this sector. This will be increasingly critical in the years to come.

The MGA has in recent months underwent a deep restructuring process. What were the major actions taken and in what way is the MGA in a better position to cater for the needs of the operators and players in the industry? I believe the new Gaming Act which came into force on the 1st August marked a major development in the history of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). The new framework, continues to elevate the jurisdictional profile of Malta from a regulatory perspective by strengthening the MGA’s supervisory role, in line with concurrent developments relating to anti-money laundering and combating the funding of terrorism. The new regulatory framework also empowers the Authority to be more agile in its decision-making, by removing unnecessary regulatory burdens, whilst simultaneously strengthening supervision and focusing the regulator’s efforts on areas which present a higher risk profile. Furthermore, the reform enhances consumer protection standards and responsible gaming measures, while promoting a risk-based approach towards regulation. It provides the MGA with wider powers in the fields of compliance and enforcement and establishes objective-oriented standards to encourage innovation and development.

Over the past months, you were invited to several South American and Asian countries. What makes Malta’s regulator so sought after by other foreign countries? The best way to control gambling activity and its potential risks is through sound and transparent legal frameworks coupled with strong regulators ensuring proper governance and oversight of all gambling activity. Since we are considered as one of the most reputable gaming regulators, with years of experience, members of our team are often invited to either speak,

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form part of panels, or even give presentations on the way iGaming should be regulated. The latter was exactly the case for the South American conference which took place in Buenos Aires earlier this year.

Gypsum Works Soffits Tiling & Marble Works Plumbing Electrical ELV & AC Systems Plastering Wall Decor Structural Alterations Project Management Wall Partitions Imported Furniture

What role does GamingMalta play in your reach out to the global market? It is important to note that Gaming Malta is an independent entity separate from the MGA. It is the promotional arm of the gaming industry in Malta, and it also focuses on new niches which are outside the MGA’s remit. The two most notable areas Gaming Malta is working on, are the development and strengthening of industries like Video Game development and also E-Sport tournaments. I firmly believe that this entity will be crucial in the coming years in the development of both these niches.

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Recent reports have stressed on the shortage of Human Resources in such sector. In what ways will the European Gaming Institute of Malta (EGIM) help address the problem? The EGIM is a joint venture between the MGA and MCAST which has the objective of developing training and educational programmes for the gaming industry. EGIM aims to offer the best possible mix of short-term courses, diplomas and masters programmes for potential candidates, even coming from non-related gaming industries. 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, in order to build and create educational courses based on future technology and product trends.

As from 1st January 2019, the first phase of the Sandbox Framework for the acceptance of Virtual Financial Assets and Virtual Tokens and the use of Innovative Technology Arrangements (ITAs) within the gaming industry will come into force. In what way will the framework be a breakthrough for the industry? The Sandbox Framework is a live document and will therefore be subject to feedback and potential updates during its duration, whilst also keeping in consideration any technological or regulatory developments which may occur. The new framework covers the acceptance of Virtual Financial Assets (VFAs) as well as the use of Innovative Technology Arrangements (ITAs) within the gaming sector. This framework is surely a breakthrough since it is the first of its kind. Usage of VFAs will be allowed as from 1st January 2019, for licensed operators applying for the approval of this additional payment method, whilst the use of ITAs by licensed operators will be allowed after obtaining technical clearance from one of the MDIA approved auditors. The latter is also envisaged to start as from 1st January 2019. The sandboxed guidelines are expected to run until October 2019, but their extension, partially or wholly is not excluded.

What are MGA’s key priorities for the coming year? In 2019 the focus will be on the introduction and implementation of the new gaming act for the landbased sector, i.e. local casinos, gaming parlours, bingo halls, etc. This is surely no mean feat, especially when seeing that at the same time we will also be working on the analysis and assessment of the licensed operators forming part of the sandbox project for VFA’s and ITA’s. These will be coupled with other two crucial projects for the Authority, namely the Enhanced Automated Reporting Platform, and also the Unified Self Exclusion. These projects will continue to strengthen the MGA, giving us more tools to ensure that the operators licenced by the Authority are in full compliance with the laws and regulations governing this sector.

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Know that you’ve made a healthy investment

Call us on

2090 8100

Aragon House Business Centre Dragonara Road, St Julian’s STJ 3140 Email: info@timberland-malta.com www.timberland-malta.com

Timberland Invest Limited - Our Story



imberland Invest Ltd, a financial services firm authorised by the MFSA, commemorated its fifth year anniversary this year since it set up office in Malta. Timberland Invest Ltd forms part of the Timberland Group of Companies, which has over twenty-five years’ experience with authorised entities in Malta, Germany and Luxembourg. After successfully operating along these years within the EU and with offices set up in one of the leading nations of the European Union, Germany, it made sense to strategically grow the operations of the group in the Mediterranean region and establish foothold in other jurisdictions within the EU. Malta was thus the location of choice for the management of the Timberland Group. In this regard, Timberland Invest Ltd was registered in Malta in 2013 and since 2014, authorised by the MFSA under the Investment Services Act of 1994 with a Category 1A licence. The European Union law, through

various Directives applying to all EU member states, provides a harmonised regulatory framework for investment service providers across the EU member states. Through this common framework, financial products and services can be passported in or out of Malta, through the Prospectus Directive. In fact in 2016, Timberland Securities Investment plc was set up and has published and passported a prospectus in terms of this Directive. Timberland Securities Investment plc raises capital by issuing bonds to the general public. So far two bonds have been issued in August 2016 and July 2017 with the same terms and conditions during the tenure of the bond. Following on the success of these bond issues, in the fourth quarter of 2018, Timberland Securities Investment plc will be issuing new bonds in terms of a new prospectus. Timberland Invest Ltd has been appointed as the authorised distributor of the bonds in Malta.

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A great year for We’ve not been idle. Last year, SiGMA established its credentials as a marquee event on the gaming calendar, and redefined expectations for the company going forward. We’re no longer content operating on the local scene. 2018 has been all about taking SiGMA to the global stage, and all the challenges that go with that.


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SiGMA First of all, SiGMA is no longer all about a single flagship event in November, although that remains our anchor. We’ve populated our calendar with a number of forward-thinking events that allow us to spread our wings and engage with other markets. Our Affiliate Grand Slam series took the lead in giving our international ambitions a tangible form – we’ve been offering our own take on affiliate networking through

the series, and it’s just been a case of success breeding success. Our last AGS in Kiev managed to bridge the divide between the European and CIS markets to great effect. Before that, AGS made its first foray into Asia with its Hong Kong edition – again, we managed to create the ideal talking shop for two major markets to meet. We’ve also launched a brand new series with our Alpha Boot Camp, an event with similarly global

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 ambitions. The inaugural leg of the series took place in Buenos Aires, where we brought some of the most important LatAm operators together with some premier suppliers from the European scene. We’re looking at the U.S. for the next leg of our newly-minted series of Alpha Boot Camps, as that market has been given great impetus following the PASPA ruling. Even our series of iGatherings took flight in 2018, as we took one of those events to the beautiful city of Stockholm. Equally importantly, SiGMA is no longer just about our events – although obviously they’re important. We’ve launched two other pillars this year – news and careers. We’re looking to really develop these two new pillars in order to become the complete package, with wire-to-wire coverage of the gaming industry from every conceivable angle. Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology also carry significant promise, and new potential applications seem to crop up every other day. At the core of this promise is an unprecedented level of decentralisation in how we conduct our imperfect human affairs, ranging from finance to healthcare and energy. For a national government, for all intents and purposes a central authority, to willingly welcome a disruptive technology that promises decentralisation might sound topsy-turvy. However, Malta was early to recognize the blockchain’s potential for positive disruption. Senior members of the government, including the Prime Minister, were very vociferous in extolling its promise early on – and it wasn’t just idle talk. Malta has positioned itself as one of the primary jurisdictions in the field as the public efforts of government officials have been mirrored by the industry. There’s no fighting the future, and Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was early and emphatic in laying down strong marker for Malta’s role in this revolutionary movement in tech, while calling on the EU as a whole

SiGMA to willingly embrace the change. We’re looking to do our part, and the Malta Blockchain Summit is designed to showcase the Maltese ecosystem in a holistic way. The deepening of our commitment to our events calendar, coupled with the widening of the scope of our company with our take on gaming news and careers, meant that we’ve had to expand our team. We’ve undergone significant growth over the past year, as our redefined expectations for ourselves have translated into a much-increased workload. However, we’ve managed to take on the growth without much in the way of growing pains. A larger SiGMA hasn’t come at the expense of our agility. We still offer a personalised touch to anyone who works with us – something that’s only possible because we’ve kept an agile, flexible mindset while going about our work. I’m also very proud of our efforts in the name of corporate social responsibility. We’ve always been active on that front, but I’m exceptionally heartened to see the growth there match the overall development in the company. We’re still actively supporting the Malta Community Chest Fund, and our relationship with the office of the President of Malta on that front just keeps going from strength to strength. We’re also supporting a number of other charitable endeavours, including this year’s Kilimanjaro Challenge. I’m very happy that three members of our team – Sophie, Laima and Denis – have chosen to take on the challenge themselves, and will be attempting the Kilimanjaro climb for charity at the end of the year. I hope at least two of them survive, for continuity reasons – and I’m not saying which two… As you can see, we’ve had a pretty full year – and it’s about to reach its climax. The entire team has poured in a lot of effort into the SiGMA 2018 experience. By the time these words reach you, most of the preparation will be done, and there’ll be not much else left to do but for you to enjoy it – so please, don’t miss out!

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Sometimes, revolutions begin in the most unlikeliest of places. Take Malta’s stunning Blue Flag Golden Bay beach for example. This paradisal spot is typically home to idlers and loungers soaking up the Mediterranean’s sultry sunshine; hardly a place conducive to pioneering business ventures. But just a hop, skip and jump away from these soothing sandy shores, lies Azure Group HQ where a team of passionate innovators has just launched a brand new e-currency-based service that’s all set to take the travel and leisure industry by storm. For nigh on twenty years, the Azure Group has made it its mission to empower people to live the aspirational lifestyle they’ve always dreamt of living, placing the finest hotels, luxury motor yachts, supercars and more within reach. Spearheaded by Managing Director Perry Newton – a former artilleryman from the 29th Commando Regiment Royal Artillery in Her Royal Majesty’s Armed Forces – the key to Azure’s success has always been its chutzpah to adapt to the times and put forward brave and bold ideas that best serve the modern traveller. And with Malta fast becoming a major hub for the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry in recent years, Perry was struck with a eureka moment: what if the Azure Group were to create an innovative service that made the company’s enviable portfolio easily accessible via a unique e-currency. The idea certainly had legs and more importantly, the Azure Group was uniquely positioned to be able to put this daring dream into motion. Industry recognition (over 60 awards to its name) combined with invaluable years of experience has given the company the vision, confidence, and above all, the essential assets to introduce the world’s first e-currency-based private club – Azure X.

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ONE CLUB TO EXPERIENCE IT ALL In an age of Netflix and Spotify, people increasingly expect to find the things they love all bundled together in one irresistible, easy-to-use package which they can access anywhere on the go. Azure X has taken this modern philosophy one step further and innovatively applied it to the travel and leisure industry.

PRIVATE MEMBERSHIP 2.0 Created with the true leisure connoisseur in mind, Azure X is a revolutionary new private membership that uses blockchain technology as its bedrock. Azure X champions access over ownership, enabling people to enjoy all the pleasures of the high-life without the admin and liabilities of owning luxury assets. Upon joining, members are credited with an annual amount of XPs – the brand’s unique e-currency – to use on a global alliance of first-class experiences and services, from five-star resorts and lodges, to supercars, luxury motor yachts, motorhomes and more. The beauty of blockchain technology allows for seamless transactions, giving customers more flexibility and freedom when booking their holidays. Members can also gift XPs, making it easy to share the luxury lifestyle with family and friends. What makes the membership even more appealing is that XPs hold real value because supercars, yachts and other products are all tangible assets owned by Azure X.


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Through the Azure X online portal, members can conveniently find the entire products portfolio on offer to them. Whether booking a supercar, a hotel or a motorhome, it’s all accessible within the same place. Plus, it’s all available via one e-currency – XPs of course. This ingenious, streamlined system does away with your typical holiday booking headaches. Now there’s no need to have a confusing cluster of browser tabs open in order to juggle syncing reservation dates and converting currencies with booking engines threatening to time you out every few minutes. With Azure X, members put in their requests for as many experiences as they like, all in their own good time. This also makes it easy for members to design their ideal dream itineraries with ease. Fancy staying at a fivestar beachfront resort in Malta coupled with a luxurious day on a motor yacht in the heart of the Med? Easy. How about spending a weekend unwinding in a lush Champneys spa with a Lamborghini Hurácan Spyder at your disposal for scenic country drives? No problem at all. Members simply pick and choose their desired experiences, place a booking request and a team of Travel Experts will handle all the rest.

WILD CLUB BENEFITS Private Membership is all about those little, unique privileges and perks that make you feel as if you’re truly part of an elite crowd. And Azure X is certainly in no short supply of members-only benefits. Thanks to the nifty Wildcard – Azure X’s exclusive membership card – members can enjoy offers on a whole host of products and services. Think of anything holiday related and it most probably applies for some concession or other. Taxi services. Car rentals. Airline flights. Segway tours. Spa treatments. Charter cruises. The list goes on and on. That’s not to mention the F&B discounts on a legion of top-class bars and restaurants. The erudite traveller may be thinking at this point so far, so garden variety private club. But the trump string to Azure X’s bountiful bow is without doubt the Wildcard Experiences programme. Every month, members can apply for a rollercoaster range of exhilarating experiences – all of which come completely free of charge. In previous months, Azure X couples have been treated to VIP tickets at Ed Sheeran’s sold-out Wembley Stadium concert, seats at heavyweight boxing fights, and a cooking masterclass from everybody’s favourite cheeky-chappie chef Jamie Oliver.

A CURATED PORTFOLIO OF LUXURY What’s more, Azure X’s enviable portfolio of assets has been carefully curated. That means you can forget all those endless hours searching for the perfect hotel on Booking.com only to go on your holidays and discover that the palm-treed lagoon pool you were promised has all the exotic appeal of a stamp-sized swamp. Perry and his team continuously scour the globe in search of the finest products and brands to partner up with, offering members unparalleled luxury from experience to experience. From the Rolodex of premium worldwide resorts in their inventory to the iconic Sunseeker yachts and magnificent supercar fleet, which includes Aston Martins, Bentleys and Ferraris, everything available under the Azure X brand comes with Perry’s scrupulous seal of approval.

Above all, there’s the personalised service to consider. Azure X prides itself on having a team of seasoned travel experts who have made it their mission to enhance its members holidays and leisure experiences in any way they can. The Travel Experts assist members every step of the way. From booking experiences to assisting with special occasion planning and restaurant reservations, the Travel Experts are members’ unwavering point of call no matter which experience they choose to embark on next. With hundreds of new members joining and more people being converted to the ease and simplicity of a blockchain-based private membership, Azure X’s future looks bright.

There’s only one way to live life the Azure X way and that’s by becoming an exclusive member. Apply for a personalised taster experience by visiting www.azurex.com.

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Yours to Experience

Designed to make your travel experience a unique one, the VIP Terminal gives you exclusive and direct access to your flight within just a few minutes. A private lounge area is exclusively reserved for you or your party, while travel documents and baggage are processed for you right within the comfort of the terminal.

The VIP Terminal - making the beginning or end of your journey an enjoyable and luxurious experience.

For more information contact La Valette Club on moira.fenech@lavaletteclub.com or www.lavaletteclub.com/VIPterminal


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