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Economy minister, MGA exec chairman visit Betclic

Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, Dr Chris Cardona and the Executive Chairman for the Malta Gaming Authority, Joseph Cuschieri, recently paid a visit to the offices of the online gaming Operator ‘Betclic Everest Group’ in Sliema. The delegation was welcomed by the Group’s CEO, Ms Isabelle Andrѐs.

Betclic Everest Group is a European online gaming site operating a wide range of on-line gaming offers in more than 20 countries. It has a unique portfolio comprising of five diverse and complementary international brands, namely, Betclic, bet-at-home.com, Everest, Expekt and Monte Carlo Casino. Betclic Everest Group is owned equally by two European entertainment operators: Lov Group and La Société des Bains de Mer.

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Addressing all those present during the visit, Ms. Andres welcomed and thanked the Maltese Government and the Malta Gaming Authority for their visit and the support the Group has received locally. The group recently relocated all its trading and finance activities from Gibraltar to Malta, following an intensive period of consultation. This decision has also led to an increase in jobs here in Malta, which is now one of the Group’s largest office locations. Ms. Andres said, “Betclic Everest Group is delighted to be licensed in Malta and is committed in furthering its good business relationship with the Malta Gaming Authority”.

“These jobs reflect the Government’s proactive approach at creating new and better jobs.” said Minister Chris Cardona. “It is always encouraging to see the continuous investment from reputable international companies like the Betclic Everest Group in Malta. The Government is committed to supporting the gaming industry in order to keep up the pace of competition and continue attracting foreign direct investment to Malta.”

Joseph Cuschieri, added that having established itself as a major player in the iGaming field, Malta will continue to deliver innovative solutions to address present and future challenges faced by the industry. “The iGaming sector has proven to be very beneficial to Malta in terms of value add, quality of labour and additional business services,” he added

Image and article source: www.mga.org.mt

Interview with Hon. Dr. José Herrera

SiGMA recently sat down with the Hon. Dr José Herrera, Parliamentary Secretary for Competitiveness and Growth, to discuss the current situation of remote gaming in Malta, as well as the latest developments aimed at strengthening and expanding the industry locally.

When asked whether he thinks if Malta can lay claim to the title of the Silicon Valley of remote gaming, the Hon. Dr Herrera starts off by reminding how Malta established itself a major player in the industry in just 15 years, partly thanks to its competitiveness in offering the type of financial services remote gaming companies seek.

The basis of Malta’s success can be found in the quality of the human resources available locally. In fact, the gaming industry currently employs 9,000 people, not counting the variety of secondary services used by gaming companies, including marketing and data hosting.

The effect this has on the Maltese economy is significant. Gaming contributes to 12% of the GDP, two-thirds of which is accounted for by remote gaming. Moreover, the igaming industry injects €60 million annually to the national coffers through direct taxation.

The Hon. Dr Herrera reassures companies and potential investors, that Malta takes the needs of the igaming industry very seriously. There are currently discussions underway between the University of Malta, the Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) and a foreign academic institution on the possibility of setting up an Academy of Gaming, which will provide specialised training courses in igaming to supply the industry with the skilled workforce it requires.

Besides investing in the local workforce, the Maltese government intends to set up Gaming Malta, an organisation tasked exclusively with the mission of promoting Malta abroad as an igaming hub and attract quality investment to the islands. Its objectives will be focused exclusively on promoting the igaming industry in Malta and encouraging more companies to establish themselves in this country.

The Hon. Dr Herrera emphasises that Gaming Malta will not impinge on the regulatory aspect of the business, an aspect which will remain firmly within the LGA’s scope. The two institutions will therefore complement each other, and igaming companies will be able to benefit from more personalised attention to their needs. This situation parallels what has already been done very successfully with Malta Enterprise, which focuses on attracting foreign business, and the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) which regulates the sector.

In the course of the interview, the Hon. Dr Herrera also touched upon the role of the Responsible Gaming Foundation. This institution has two main scopes: to help various NGOs in Malta using funds donated by gaming companies, this is similar to work done by the Good Causes Fund, and also to embark on education campaigns that raise awareness about illegal gambling and help vulnerable people who are who are addicted to gambling.

As part of the government’s efforts to look at the industry from a holistic perspective, the liberalisation of casino licences on superyachts and cruise liners will make it easier for vessels registered in Malta to operate their casinos without incurring additional fees. Such large vessels, measuring 24 metres and above, will therefore avoid having to pay the full casino license.

This move will combine two of Malta’s strengths – Malta currently has the fifth largest vessel register in the world – to create a unique and very desirable opportunity for yacht owners to register their vessels in this country and benefit from a well-developed and progressive legislative framework in remote gaming. Additionally, the redomiciliation of registered companies will be made easier in order to encourage more companies to take advantage of this opportunity.

Regulation-wise, the government, in collaboration with the LGA, is taking a proactive role in introducing legislation that regularises the use of cryptocurrencies. This could potentially make Malta the first country in the European Union to take this bold step and set an example which other countries are bound to follow, resulting in better international regularisation of digital currencies which will in turn enable igaming companies to provide a more secure service to their customers.

When asked if he thinks that Malta still has potential to grow its reach in the igaming market or whether a saturation point is imminent, the Hon. Dr Herrera replied that there is still a lot of scope for expansion left and that an outreach program has has been set up to entice more investors from Asia and South America to move their operations to Malta.

Ultimately, Malta has to be a leading force in finding innovative solutions to present and future challenges facing the industry. The Hon. Dr Herrera is positive that this is already the case and, thanks to the local political consensus on the importance of the igaming industry, Malta’s success story has far from reached a conclusion yet.

Quality of life for Maltese Gaming community: Yacht Leasing Scheme

Yachting is an ever-growing industry in Malta. The Maltese VAT Department has issued guidelines, whereby the overall VAT rate incurred on the acquisition of a yacht can be reduced substantially depending on the size and means of propulsion of the yacht. A leasing agreement has to be entered into by the lessor (the owner of the yacht) whereby he contracts the use of the boat to the lessee for a consideration which should be at arm’s length. At the end of the lease agreement, the lessee may opt to purchase the boat at a percentage of the original price. At the end of the lease agreement, the lessee will become the owner of an EU vat paid yacht registered in Malta.

Maltese VAT is due on the time that a yacht spends within EU waters.  In view of the difficulties in determining the exact period of time which the yacht spends inside and outside EU territorial waters, the yacht leasing guidelines provide that VAT will only be due on a percentage of the lease based on a presumption as to the time that a yacht is to be within EU territorial waters. These percentages are set according to the length of the boat and its means of propulsion (power or sailing). The standard rate of VAT of 18% is applied on the established percentage of the lease, deemed to be related to the use of the boat in EU territorial waters.

Find out more details here.

Cherry revenues soar in first half of 2014

Cherry, whose operation is heavily based in Sliema, Malta, has recorded a soar in revenue over the first six months of 2014, totaling over 16 Million Euros.

The main reason for this growth was due to online gaming, with CEO Emil Suvisson stating that “it has been a very positive first six months” and that “online gaming continues to grow faster than the market”.

 

Mr. Green executive steps down

The Scandinavian online casino operator Mr. Green has recently confirmed that its largest shareholder, Mr. Hans Fajerson,  has stepped down from the board of directors. Aside from his duties on the board, the former board member acted as an executive at a number of property companies & served as a member of the audit committee for Green Gaming Group.

A Mr. Green representative stated that the change is with immediate effect due to time constraints. The iGaming operator is has a class 1 on 4 licence with the Lotteries and Gaming Authority in Malta, and representatives of the company have confirmed that this will not affect operations in any way. Mr. Fajerson will continue to be the largest shareholder of Mr. Green & Co with 20.2% of the total votes.

Whether another executive will be appointed  is not yet officially stated by company reps.

The Malta licensed company has its registered office in central Sliema.

Malta-based Betfair adopts Jumio

Betfair has adopted Jumio’s Netverify customer verification solution. The new technology will entitle customers to pass know-your-customer checks faster and easily, without needing to take a photo of their identity and email it to the verification staff at Betfair.

Phillip Rivers, head of registrations, payments and fraud at Betfair, reiterated, “By adding Jumio’s Netverify into the customer verification process, we are making life quicker and easier for our customers, minimising fall-out from lengthy verification processes and removing costly man hours where we have to receive and review documents manually.”

Catherine Hickey, EMEA sales director at Jumio, said: “More and more of the top operators are integrating Jumio into their customer verification processes.

“Betfair is the latest operator to use Jumio not just to meet know-your-customer requirements but also to deliver a quicker and slicker customer experience.”

Clive Hawkswood, CEO at the Remote Gaming Association, said: “We’re seeing more and more gaming operators across Europe use customer verification software such as Jumio.” The aim is not to merely comply with regulations, but actually go a step further in making sure that fraud is prevented in the first place.

Certificate in remote gaming business offered in Malta

NCFHEA CPD Award Qualification – Professional Certificate in Remote Gaming Business (MQF Level 5) by the National Commission of Higher and Further Education (NCFHE) will be presented to delegates who successfully attend all modules and obtain a minimum pass in a final 4 hour examination (1 hour per module) and in the in-class group case study assignments (1 hour per module).

The entry requirements for this course are 5 O-Levels including a pass in Mathematics and 2 A-Levels OR at minimum of 5 years working experience in Business Administration or within the Gaming Industry. Places for this course are limited to 20 delegates on first come first serve basis. Each module will cover the following topics:

Module 1

  • Understand of the rules of the history of regulation of online gaming in Malta
  • Understand the specifics of Maltese legislation on online gaming
  • Understand remote gaming in the EU Internal Market and current developments, together with exposure to relevant case law
  • Understand measures taken at EU level with regards to consumer protection in the remote gaming industry
  • Understand the basics of copyright law and how this applies to software licence and software development agreements
  • Understand the basics of data protection regulation
  • Be aware of obligations of remote gaming operators under remote gaming, data protection and consumer legislation
  • Able to better comprehend the debates occurring at EU level with regard to the provision of online gaming and a service provider’s position within the EU
  • Understand the rights and obligations emanating under copyright law and awareness of matters that should be covered by software development and license agreements
  • Able to discuss and explain obligations of remote gaming operators under remote gaming, data protection and consumer legislation
  • Able to discuss and explain the debates occurring at EU level with regard to the provision of online gaming and a service provider’s position within the EU
  • Able to discuss and explain rights and obligations emanating under copyright law and awareness of matters that should be covered by software development and license agreements
  • Make judgements which are compliant with the local regulatory framework on remote gaming, data protection, consumer law and copyright law
  • Identify the risks and problems associated with provision of remote gaming to other EU countries
  • Ensure that rights are safeguarded when entering software development or software license agreements
  • Keep abreast with obligations emanating from Maltese law and regulation
  • Keep abreast with developments at EU level
  • Able to identify rights emanating under copyright law and elements which should be contained in a software development and software licence agreement
  • Carry out tasks in compliance with the local regulatory framework on remote gaming, data protection, consumer law and copyright law
  • Carry out tasks related to risk management in view of the EU legal position
  • Identify elements which should be contained in a software development and software licence agreements in the course of business

 

Module 2

  • Define the areas in risk and fraud that are specific to iGaming
  • Apply the knowledge into practice and understand how to mitigate the risk of fraud
  • Prioritise and categorise the different forms of fraudulent activities (according to regularity, most damaging, etc…)
  • Describe the evolving internal controls and risk management techniques aimed at defending the organisation from fraudulent attacks
  • Obtain a very good understanding of mitigations to risks associated to compliance in iGaming environment
  • Describe the main contents and requirements stemming from the relevant legislation and regulations and their importance in the context of fraud & risk mitigation
  • Identify the importance of risk and fraud in the igaming world
  • Analyse the controls that are in place in order to protect organisations, customers and employees
  • Utilise knowledge and risk assessment to increase defences and prevent high-risk case scenarios
  • Implement empathy skills through better active listening skills
  • Incorporate motivational interviewing skills to get better information through questioning
  • Diminish communication blockers in order to enhance information giving
  • Discuss with/Report to the Board and Management the impacts of relevant laws and regulations & risk and their impact on the organisation’s internal control system
  • Identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the controls and measures set up for risk appetite and fraud prevention
  • Sustain better operational delivery through better handling skills
  • Analyse through stronger details and investigation skills
  • Keep abreast and where necessary undertake various seminars. Courses and online webinars in relation to new developments in online fraud, as well as new compliance needs and other related areas
  • Conduct continuous research in the field of online fraud so that threats can be immediately anticipated and acted upon proactively
  • Proactively help spot, report and advise on weaknesses and controls in the respective team dedicated to keeping compliant and fighting fraud
  • Create a proactive culture within the whole organisation with respect to risks from fraud, money laundering & related areas

 

Module 3

  • Compare and contrast the different qualitative and quantitative measures of probability;
  • Interpret the evolution of probability over the years and its implications on today’s applications in the gaming industry;
  • examine the use of different risk evaluation techniques;
  • identify sources of risk and types of vulnerability;
  • interpret how probability and uncertainty combine to make for different scenarios and situations found in the gaming industry;
  • identify the different business models that gaming companies adopt to come out as winners irrespectively of the outcome of an event by using the overround and the standardisation of the bookmaker’s profit margin techniques.
  • compare and contrast the different concepts in gaming such as arbitrage and asymmetric information;
  • interpret how different factors are bound to influence betting and the propensity for an individual to accept a bet;
  • examine the use of models by bookmakers and the associated risk of each model;
  • identify the basic categories of fixed and spread bets;
  • compare and contrast the different strategies adopted by bookmakers to bias games in their favour;
  • interpret the difference between an equitable odd and one which is biased;
  • examine the use of different bookmaking strategies;
  • identify the key players involved in gaming;
  • identify and differentiate between total number bets, supremacy and match bets, and performance index bets.

 

Module 4

  • Identify lacking tools and policies in the Responsible Gaming framework
  • Sustain better operational delivery through better handling skills
  • Analyse through stronger details and investigation skills
  • Identify non mitigated risks in relation to the basic requirements of the Responsible Gaming regulations imposed by countries
  • Proactively help spot, report and advise on weaknesses and controls related to the Responsible Gaming framework
  • Create a proactive culture within the whole organisation with respect to Responsible Gaming and duty of care
  • Assist Management in designing an effective responsible gaming strategy and related policy
  • Identify risks in relation to the basic requirements of the Responsible Gaming regulations and recommend internal controls to mitigate them

More information about these courses can be obtained by contacting the following:

LEAD Training Services.
2nd floor, Tower Business Centre, Tower Street, Swatar BKR 4013, Malta

Phone: +356 2546 6088
Email: info@leadtraining.com.mt
Web: www.leadtraining.com.mt

Dmaxepaper.com participating in Malta iGaming Summit

Email Intelligence solution Dmaxepaper.com participating in Malta iGaming Summit

Dmaxepaper.com, the Malta-based online email intelligence solution for blue chip accounts serving mainly in the finance and iGaming sectors,  will be a leading participant and a participant in the Malta iGaming Summit (SiGMA) due to be held in Malta between 21 October and 1November, 2014. The summit will feature the largest dedicated Remote Gaming and Digital Gaming exhibitions with over 3,000 delegates, 50 top speakers and some 70 stands.

Ray de Bono, CEO for the Maltese-German boutique firm Dmax.tv will be delivering a speech on the way email intelligence is changing marketing, PR and the traditional business development process. Dmaxepaper.com is a fully-supported email intelligence solution which is used in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK, offering personalised, locally assisted email intelligence services.

“Our iGaming operators have been using Dmaxepaper.com service for some 3 years as an email marketing system providing us with the combination of business intelligence and dedicated, personalised support we need,” Peter van Tuyl, Director of Product Management at Omega Gaming (Malta) Ltd, explained.

“More and more igaming companies are looking to Malta to start or expand their business,” commented Mr de Bono.

“I believe that besides its financial and fiscal advantages, what seals the deal for these companies is whether or not Malta provides the right infrastructure and support for their operations – which it does.

“Apart from offering a pool of English-speaking, highly-educated human resources as well as a robust ICT network, Malta affords a cosmopolitan European lifestyle that further complements their stay.

“With Dmaxepaper.com our clients are serviced by locally-based technical personnel, ongoing product training and consultancy on contact list management, segmentation, email validation and data-mining.

“The Malta iGaming Summit offers attendees a perfect opportunity to explore Malta’s potential”, concluded Ray de Bono.

The 2014 Summit for Gaming in Malta will bring together the entire gaming community from affiliates and operators through to regulators and vendors.

It will also offers a five-star exhibition space for both interactive gaming suppliers looking for new and existing operators as well as those looking to attract affiliates and marketing partners.  For more info, visit: https://maltaigamingsummit.com/ and www.dmaxepaper.com

Malta contests ECJ’s definition of illegal betting

Announcement was made recently by parliamentary secretary for competitiveness and economic growth Jose Herrera that Malta would be contesting the ruling of the European Court of Justice over the Council of Europe’s draft convention on sports competitions. The convention stated that illegal bets in sports should be those bets considered illegal by a country’s consumer legislation. Malta feels that this definition of illegal betting “hinders the free movement of services within the EU.”

Parliamentary Secretary Jose Herrera said that Malta agrees with the aims of the convention which were primarily to combat manipulation yet he feels that  “this definition would inevitably influence Malta’s gaming sector, and consequently Malta is seeking the ruling of the ECJ because if ratified, the new definition would hinder the free movement of services” .

The draft convention describes as “any sports betting activity whose type or operator is not allowed under the applicable law of the jurisdiction where the consumer is located.” which the Council of Europe is set on changing. The Council of Europe sources were quoted as stating this definition is  an “inappropriate encroachment into the Maltese betting industry”.

Herrera is concerned that if this draft is ratified it could lead to licensed Maltese operators being limited from extending their operations abroad unless they abide by the laws of the other member states.

If the ECJ declares that the draft convention is not compatible with EU laws – namely the free movement of services and the free market– the Council of Europe would be prohibited from ratifying the convention unless it is amended.

Insisting that Malta’s reservations focus solely on the definition of illegal sports betting – and not the objectives of the council – Herrera argued that due to the fact that Malta’s reservations were not addressed in the Convention, the government will seek the ECJ ruling.

LGA chairman Joseph Cuschieri also stated that the interference in sports betting by this convention is “unacceptable” and he stated that the LGA will not allow anything to interfere with growing Malta’s gaming sector.  “Ever since Malta implemented rules on remote betting, in line with the laws regulating the free market an operator registered in Malta could operate across Europe with one licence, that of the LGA.

Since the financial crisis, countries have been intent on implementing certain licence frameworks to tax these gaming operators. These frameworks are basically saying that even though a gaming company has a licence in Malta, it would need another licence to operate across Europe.”

Dr Herrera advised that Malta also sought legal expert advice on the matter at hand. In May, Malta had moved proposals for the disposition to be amended. It had clearly stated its intentions throughout negotiations and even sent explanations to the European Commission in writing. However, the definition stayed in the same format.

He said the country’s objections were three – that the definition related exclusively to licencing and operator regulation, which was not the aim of the convention, that the definition went against EU treaties and regulations on free movement of services, and that the definition would harmonise industry regulations at a European level when the EU had no such regulations and this could impact on future EU regulations in the sector.

European Commission raises health hazards awareness

The European Commission is encouraging countries across the continent to demand that online gaming adverts display similar messages as those found on cigarette packs.

Reuters reported yesterday that they have obtained a draft document which states that the European Union executive intends to focus on advertising, in their combat against compulsive gambling.

They also reported that this week the EU executive is expected to present its recommendation to improve controls over Europe’s €10.5 billion ($14.3 billion) e-gaming industry.

Figures presented by the European Commission suggest that online gambling is the fastest growing service activity in Europe, growing at a rate of 15% a year.

Expectations are that it could urge countries to tighten the advertising rules, despite the recommendation not being legally binding.

In countries such as France, a helpline number and health warning messages are currently present on all iGaming websites and in all advertising material. The recommendation is meant to prompt countries into replicating what is already happening.

The process is meant to inform the players of chances of winning and losing, risk of becoming an addict and assistance for compulsive gambling.

The EU also plans to propose a ban on internet gambling firms sponsoring events that are aimed at players under the age of 18.

Responsible Gaming has been duly promoted and and encouraged by the Lotteries and Gaming Authority as well as the licensed operators in Malta. On the 18th February 2014 The Responsible Gaming Foundation was launched by the Authority, as a means of offering support to operators and players alike.