“Malta: Retaining its pre-eminent position as the leading global remote gaming hub
Malta – retaining pre-eminent position as a gaming hub
November 25, 2022

The following is the transcript of the panel “Malta: Retaining its pre-eminent position as the leading global remote gaming hub,” which was part of the SIGMA Europe Regulation & Compliance Conference on the 15th of November 2022.

Moderator: Olga Finkel, Co-Founder & Partner, WH Partners

Speakers:

Enrico Bradamante, Founder & Chairman iGen, Chief Commercial Officer & MD Pariplay

Motti Gil, CFO Aspire Global

Carl Brincat, CEO Malta Gaming Authority

Pontus Lindwall President & CEO Betsson AB

Yanica Sant, Group Senior Legal Counsel William Hill

Olga: Introduction.
Malta’s de-grey listing by Moneyval

Enrico: What are the immediate and long-term implications of this positively changed scenario? Are there positive changes from the banking sector IN Malta?

Motti: In the last years, in particular as a result of Malta’s grey listing, the banking problems worsened for Malta companies not only in Malta – but also with the banks in other jurisdictions. Has the removal of Malta from the grey list solved the issues with foreign banks?

Yanica: As there seem to have been no pronounced actual positive results from de-grey-listing – do you think that grey listing actually had a permanent or at least long-lasting impact on Malta operators? Or the difficulties are simply coincidental, and the main reason is overall more scrutiny and AML focus in banking operators, regardless of any grey listing?

Carl: The MGA has done a lot of work together with the government to remove Malta from the grey list. What are the lessons we learned as a country? Have we come out of this experience stronger? if ‘yes’ in what way? What does Gov and MGA do to improve the banking situation in Malta for the industry?

New EU Supra National Risk Assessment of money laundering risks of the online gambling

Pontus: With your ultra-long involvement in the industry and your knowledge of the industry, its development and all processes and mitigating measures the industry puts in place to comply with AML rules today – how reasonable (or otherwise) is the European Commission’s assessment of the risks posed by remote gambling being VERY HIGH? Is EC assessment based on correct assumptions, in your view?

Yanica: You worked with the regulator and now with a large operator – you have seen both sides – do you agree with the commission’s assessment of ML risk or rather with Pontus view? (Assuming Pontus does not agree with EU).

Carl: Whether we agree or disagree with this SNRA – now that this document has been issued AND there is an obligation for the industry – and the member states! -to take it into account – does it mean that Malta – and therefore all operators – are bound to follow it? Is it possible to have Malta’s National risk assessment different from SNRA? How?

Malta’s attraction is wider than the markets reach of its licence. Knowledgeable, approachable, pragmatic regulator, presence of a complete ecosystem

Enrico: What do igen members think about the value of being based in malta? What are Malta’s strengths as the industry base? [[ ecosystem, suppliers present, knowledge and experience in regulation – ‘home of gaming excellence’, regulator willing to listen to the industry, etc]]

Motti: Do you agree with Enrico that the value of Malta is wider than the licence itself? For instance, how would you compare communications and dialogs with the MGA with communications with other regulators?

How, in your view, the MGA can further help the industry – on the international arena? in what matters (player claims, influencing other regulators)

Pontus: Looking into the future – in your view, what should be done by the Regulator and Malta as a whole to remain relevant and attractive to the industry?

Yanica: Do you think the MGA should go on an knowledge transfer (so to speak) drive to ‘educate’ other authorities that deal with / supervise the industry? Or should the MGA take certain tasks onto itself instead of those authorities to ensure sensible, proportionate and informed checks and audits of operators?

Carl: From the discussion it emerges that it may be beneficial that the MGA takes more proactive role in educating authorities – local and foreign – in the way the industry works and is regulated. Does the MGA do this work (imparting knowledge) or will be doing it? How can the MGA do more to help Malta operators defend themselves – for instance in the current tsunami of player claims in certain jurisdictions, like Austria?

Should the operators do more – or different – jointly to protect themselves? In an organised way? Innovation – indispensable component to remain relevant and attractive – new crypto acceptance policy

Pontus: Do you think it is the right time for Malta to move into crypto acceptance on a larger scale? Do you think embracing crypto payments is important for the industry now?

Motti: Are there pressures on B2B suppliers to embrace new technologies (e.g. blockchain) at the core and provide tools for crypto acceptance?

Carl: What are the main changes in the new policy, and will it be usable? What is the implementation framework and expected outcome / uptake?

Enrico: Given that crypto assets are also now considered by the EU as VERY HIGH risk from the money laundering perspective (like online gambling) – do you think it is necessary for Malta to engage in reputational management activities? What should this involve?

Conclusions: Malta still offers advantages and a wider attractiveness, keeping its preeminent position as a gaming hub. The regulator and the ‘operators of good will’ must work together for the common benefit of serious and sustainable regulation.

Thank You, See you in the morning, Olga

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