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SiGMA launches Gaming Hub with €10,000 donation

One of the highlights of SiGMA16 was the Big Foundation Dinner, a sports charity dinner that was brought to SiGMA for the first time. It was held back in November 2016 at the Intercontinental 5-star Hotel in St Julians Malta, one day before SiGMA16 officially kicked off.

Her Excellency at The Big Foundation dinner at SiGMA16

Her Excellency at The Big Foundation dinner at SiGMA16

The BiG Sports Dinner, the only sports dinner in the Betting and Gambling industry, has raised funds for several charities over the years including Malta Community Chest Fund, Restart Rugby and others. The sum of 20k was raised from this dinner, half of which went to support the Malta Community Chest Fund which is chaired by the President of Malta, Her Excellency, the honorable Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca. The other half went to Restart Rugby, a charity organization based in the UK.

Her Excellency at Gaming Hub

Her Excellency at the new Gaming Hub, Msida Skatepark

Last Friday, at a small gathering, Her Excellency was officially presented with the cheque from the Foundation Dinner which she also was in attendance of. The presentation took place at the brand new Gaming Hub offices situated opposite the Msida skate park. The President inaugurated the new premises that same day, which is now SiGMA’s official head office. Gaming Hub, as the name implies, will act as a hub for startups and will be offered at no cost to all startups taking part in the SiGMA Startup Pitch this November.

In the words of Eman Pulis, “It was an honor to welcome Her Excellency to our new offices where we had prepared for her a short two-minute presentation about SiGMA. This was followed by a brief discussion about where we are heading as a small Maltese company within iGaming, our corporate social responsibility and a discussion about how we can assist the President and Malta moving forward.” It ended with the official presentation of the 10k donation to the President.

The Presidnet at Gaming hub with Eman Pulis

The President at Gaming hub with SiGMA CEO Eman Pulis

Gaming Hub partner, Jonathan Caruana, went on to elaborate: “We were pleased to welcome her Excellency, the President of Malta, to the idea of the Gaming Hub, where businesses and start-ups alike, can grow their network, meet affiliates, operators and solution providers and encourage a faster business growth rate.”

The President and Stewie at Gaming Hub

Her Excellency and Stewie at the Gaming Hub

Her Excellency even got tho meet the youngest member of the firm, the adorable Frenchie puppy Stewie who seemed pleased to meet her. After an introduction to all of the colleagues in the firm, she also spoke about celebrating diversity in the work environment with so many colleagues in gaming coming from different backgrounds.

Are you a startup? Then apply for the SiGMA Startup Pitch 2017 and meet hungry investors. Find our more about our new Gaming Hub and register your interest.

AXL Affiliates acquire oddstake.com in biggest acquisition yet

One of the largest sports betting companies in the world, Malta-based AXL Affiliates Ltd continues to lead and expand their reach in the the gaming industry with yet another acquisition, this time their largest to date.

AXL’s aim is to strengthen their position as a leading betting affiliate in Europe and earlier this month, the gaming company acquired the UK based company TipsBetting Media Ltd for £260,000. Now, AXL sees their largest deal to date with the acquisition of the sports affiliate website oddstake.com and all their related assets for a record €1.15 million.

The assets acquired are currently generating a revenue of around €500k per year.

AXL Group PR Manager, Daniela Stefan said: “This purchase will help to strengthen our presence in the UK market. It will also boost our sports betting offer by allowing us to expand into new markets with additional language options.”

With this latest takeover, AXL Affiliates Ltd seeks to become the most reliable and hopefully the most in demand iGaming affiliate network in the world. A direct positive effect is foreseeable from the takeover for AXL Affiliates Ltd for consolidating its search revenues and continue rendering best services to its clients.

AXL Affiliates Ltd currently delivers 6000 NDC’s per month from their network of around 2000 gaming websites.

Are you a startup? Then apply for the SiGMA Startup Pitch 2017 and meet hungry investors. View Startup Pitch 2016 gallery here.

Melita prepares takeover bid for Vodafone Malta

Malta’s quad play telecommunications operator Melita is currently in the process of preparing a bid to acquire Vodafone Malta, according to industry sources.

Back in February 2016, the French firm Apax Partners acquired a majority of shares in Melita, 86% in total while Belgian company Fortino Capital also gained 12% last year and the remainder 2% went to management. While talks have gone on in the past between the two companies about the potential of a merger, it was Apax Partners who were the initiators of this latest move to attain Vodafone.

Melita's stand at SiGMA16

Melita’s stand at SiGMA16

Vodafone Malta is wholly owned by the Vodafone Group and currently offers mobile phone services and nationwide Wi-Fi internet coverage.

According to the TMT Finance, a reputable industry journal, unnamed sources quoted that Melita is preparing a takeover bid unlike any in the past. It stated that Apax was in a fairly advanced stage of negotiations with a few banks about a loan deal to back the acquisition.

TMT Finance went on to say that little is still known of the details and valuation, however, the deal appeared to be the results of bilateral talks.

No comment is being made at the moment by either Melita or Vodafone representatives but sources believe that a takeover like this makes absolute sense seeing that Melita’s mobile offering is currently the weakest in its portfolio.

As explained by industry sources, it is expected that Melita would carry more value with Apax expecting a better return should it decide to sell its shares in the future if this deal goes through. Apax, like many investment companies, make acquisitions keeping an eye on long-term gains in the future when they sell out.

Seeing that the mobile phone sector in Malta currently comprises of three companies, this deal, if it transpires, will have to be cleared by the regulator as it will be reducing the competition.

Are you a startup? Then apply for the SiGMA Startup Pitch 2017 and meet hungry investors. View Startup Pitch 2016 gallery here.

New Joker feature on Battle of Slots – players can now win bigger rewards

Malta-based online casino Videoslots and creator of the world’s first social online casino concept Battle of Slots have just introduced a new feature; the Joker. Before the start of any Battle, players can now become the game’s Joker with a possibility of walking away with double the prize money.

Battle of Slots welcomes the new Joker!Launched in October 2015, the ultimate multiplayer experience game Battle of Slots has revolutionised online casinos and has since won many awards. Players have a chance to compete against each other in one battle, socialise and try various slot games when they participate in different battles. The battles take place in a poker style lobby where players go head to head for huge guaranteed prize pools.

Now, Battle of Slots has just gotten a whole lot better with a brand new feature. This new feature allows players who have preregistered for their chosen battle to be placed in a draw for a chance to become the game’s joker. This feature also doubles the prize money if they go on to win the battle.

Battle of Slots has already drastically increased players lifetime value since launching and this new feature is designed to encourage faster registration on it.

Famous titles are available from some of the industry’s top providers such as NetEnt favourites Starburst, Neon Staxx, Guns N’ Roses and Jimi Hendrix with many daily battles on all of them. Buy-ins are available from €1 to €100 with regular freeroll competitions available.

Alexander StevendahlChief Executive Officer at Videoslots Alexander Stevendahl had this to say: “Battle of Slots has been an amazing success since launch and we are sure our new Joker feature will be an incredible addition to our Battles. We expect the Joker feature to double our pre-registrations, which will result in even bigger prize pools and more winners. Plus, with buy-ins to suit any bank roll, Battle of Slots appeals to a wide range of players – with freerolls available to those who wish to give it a try.”

Are you a startup? Then apply for the SiGMA Startup Pitch 2017 and meet hungry investors. View Startup Pitch 2016 gallery here.

MGA grants first ever B2B Skill Games Licence to Oulala

Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has granted their very first official controlled B2B skill games licence to the Malta-based daily fantasy football operator Oulala Games Ltd.

 CEO Valery Bollier and Managing Director Benjamin Carlotti of Oulala

CEO Valery Bollier and Managing Director Benjamin Carlotti of Oulala

Oulala, the award-winning fantasy football platform for API integration and a complete turnkey solution, has updated stakeholders announcing that they have reached their founder’s goal of being ‘regulated separately from other iGaming activities’, a goal they had set out to attain four years ago.

The B2B-focused company has stated that this MGA B2B approval represents an important corporate milestone.

Due to the lack of strategic regulation for fantasy sports, Oulala was unable to operate legally within the UK market and thus needed to acquire a remote gambling licence in order to operate there.

 

Benjamin Carlotti on the right speaking at one of the SiGMA16 conferences

Benjamin Carlotti on the right speaking at one of the SiGMA16 conferences

The MGA has been the first in Europe to recognise the impact of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and a need for a special licence. Benjamin Carlotti, one of the co-founders and Managing Director at Oulala explains: “The authorities in Malta were the first in foretelling the impact of DFS’s potential in Europe, and the MGA was, in fact, the first regulator to acknowledge our needs”

The MGA has in fact spent over two years examining and working on a new licence category for controlled skill games which will allow a better European-wide regulation of DFS operators and industry needs, defining it as a game of skill as opposed to gambling.

Joseph Cuschieri

Joseph Cuschieri

Executive Chairman of MGA, Joseph Cuschieri commented: “The Malta Gaming Authority is pleased to be issuing a B2B licence for fantasy sports to OulalaGames Ltd under the new skill games regulations.”

Mr Cuschieri continued: “Malta’s regulatory framework ensures a high standard of player protection and game fairness whilst allowing operators space for growth and innovation. It is for this reason that operators such as Oulala have chosen Malta as their primary place of establishment.”

The controlled skilled licence is valid for five years and can be used for either B2C and/or B2B purposes and subject to a number of requirements, including segregation of operational and players.

Further to the update, Carlotti concluded: “We are incredibly proud to be participating in the development of a licensing framework that regulates skill-based games, fantasy sports included. This was a highly significant step in the right direction, and our hope is that other European regulators will soon follow suit.”

Are you a startup? Then apply for the SiGMA Startup Pitch 2017 and meet hungry investors. View Startup Pitch 2016 gallery here.

MGA grant first ever B2B lottery betting license to Lotto Warehouse

Malta-based lottery betting igaming platform provider Lotto Warehouse Ltd has been granted the first ever B2B Class 4 platform license to host and manage betting on the outcome of lotteries by the Malta Gaming Authority.

An industry first in terms of jackpot coverage, the MGA licence will allow Lotto Warehouse the opportunity to offer other operators a chance to add a portfolio of lottery betting products to their platforms which also include the world’s biggest jackpots.

With its headquarters in St Julian’s Malta, Lotto Warehouse was set up in Q4 of 2016. It is already home to 25 employees and the company’s recruitment drive is expected to increase to 75 by the end of 2017. Their prime goal is of allowing B2C operators to add secondary lottery products to their portfolio of games with ease and integration flexibility.

Operators who sign up to Lotto Warehouse will have two options between running the standard betting platform or running a design customised portfolio of secondary lottery games.

CEO of Lotto Warehouse Thomas Biro stated: “We are very excited to be able to offer licensed B2C operators the chance to add an exciting new lottery betting vertical to their platforms.”

“Following an extensive jurisdictional search, we decided to establish ourselves in Malta, Europe’s true gaming business capital.

“The MGA is a rigorous, yet flexible regulatory body of international repute providing an all-encompassing gaming eco-system which will allow us to plan ahead.”

Biro continued to say: “I am grateful to the MGA staff and their Chairman, Mr Joseph Cuschieri, for their understanding, professionalism and full cooperation throughout this process. I would also like to thank Mr Reuben Portanier of Avviza Advisory who assisted us throughout the licensing process.”

Malta regulatory update Joseph Cuschieri

Joseph Cuschieri

MGA Chairman Mr Joseph Cuschieri commented on the issuance of the first B2B secondary lottery licence: “The Malta Gaming Authority is pleased to be issuing its first B2B licence to offer secondary lotteries to Lotto Warehouse, following the completion of a rigorous licensing process. Throughout this process, Lotto Warehouse proved to be a very serious operator, with extensive industry knowledge.”

Lotto Warehouse currently offers its lottery betting platform in 18 different languages and shall initially kick-off with 11 different international lottery products.

More information about the Lotto Warehouse offering is available on their website Lottowarehouse.com or email them at info@lottowarehouse.com.

Further information can also be obtained by contacting Andrew Clarke, Communications and PR Manager at andrew@themultigroup.com.

Are you a startup? Then apply for the SiGMA Startup Pitch 2017 and meet hungry investors. View Startup Pitch 2016 gallery here.

Betsson celebrates its 1,000th employee in Malta

Swedish online gaming company and the biggest employer in the industry, Betsson, has today revealed that it has employed their 1,000th employee in Malta.

Manuel Mallia

Manuel Mallia

On his visit to Betsson, Hon.Gaming Minister Manuel Mallia stated that this was a historic moment for the gaming company. He went on to say that the government was devoted to strengthening the gaming industry focusing on increasing the availability of human resources.

Joseph Cuschieri, Malta Gaming Authority Chairman also spoke on the milestone stating that Betsson’s success augured well for the whole industry.

Betsson team at their stand during SiGMA16

Betsson team at their stand during SiGMA16

With around 43 different nationalities being employed, the Stockholm-listed sports betting operator has also been dedicated to their internship programmes which seek to find fresh future talent for their operations. The launch of its third intensive 12-week internship student training program called ’The Betsson Academy 2017’, sees them planning to fill 13 full-time paid positions that are up for grabs in their new Malta headquarters.

The Betsson Academy is scheduled to be held between July and September and will offer students insights on working within the global online gaming industry with the selected students working in and covering all components of Betsson operations.

Closing date for student applications is the 13th March and its academy assessment days will be held between 22-29 March.

For further information on The Betsson Academy 2017 and list of available internships view here http://www.betssongroup.com/news-details/betsson-academy-2017.

Are you a startup? Then apply for the SiGMA Startup Pitch 2017 and meet hungry investors. View Startup Pitch 2016 gallery here.

Kindred makes a £175m takeover bid for 32Red

Malta-based online Swedish gaming and sports betting company Kindred Group has agreed to buy the smaller UK rival award-winning online casino 32Red for £175.6, the latest deal in a wave of betting industry consolidation.
Kindred, formerly known as Unibet, will pay 196 pence per share which is 16% above the latest closing price of 172 pence. A second interim dividend of 4p per share will be paid by 32Red and not Kindred. Over the last few weeks, share prices for 32Red have surged with takeover speculations.

The last acquisition made by Kindred Group was back in 2015 with the purchase of StanJames.com which in turn made them one of Europe’s biggest online gambling providers. The group has more than 15 million customers across 100 markets with Europe and Australia considered their core regions.

Founded in 2002, the Gibraltar-based casino who is listed on London’s Aim market has grown quickly within the past few years with around 125 employees based in Gibraltar. They operate online casino, online poker, online bingo and online sports betting under the brands 32Red.com, 32RedPoker.com, 32RedBingo.com and 32RedSport.com.

Confirmation of accepting the offer has already been given by the shareholders who hold a combined 71.1% stake in 32Red. The offer is conditional upon Kindred gaining acceptances of more than 75%.

Kindred Group Chief Executive Officer Henrik Tjaernstroem said: “We’re optimistic we will be over 75 percent in a short space of time.”

32Red’s CEO Ed Ware had this to say about the acquisition: “We have consistently and profitably grown 32Red’s market share in the regulated markets of the UK and more recently, Italy,” 

“The management team at Kindred have a similar business philosophy to our own and we look forward to joining forces with Kindred and continuing our successful growth within the Kindred group.”

 

Are you a startup? Then apply for the SiGMA Startup Pitch 2017 and meet hungry investors. View Startup Pitch 2016 gallery here.

Malta graces the list of top 11 safest countries for an expat

With the growing number of international and well-established iGaming companies relocating to this increasingly favoured gaming hub of Europe and the expats that follow, it is no surprise that Malta is gaining fast popularity.

But the successful iGaming world is not the only reason it is looked upon so fondly by expats. This beloved rock,

St Julians Malta

St Julians Malta

home to over 400,000 residents has won the hearts of expats who have relocated here to work for many reasons.

Valletta view from Sliema, Malta

Valletta view from Sliema, Malta

Malta has been described as a laid back tiny Mediterranean island rich in history with superb weather conditions (enjoying around 3,000 hours of sunshine per year – one of the highest in Europe) and high regards for personal safety and security. The transition period to your new life in Malta is almost nonexistent as one feels at home immediately and hardly has any problems adjusting.

So highly admired is Malta that it recently made the top 11 safest countries list for an expat. This survey was compiled by InterNations, the largest worldwide network for people living and working abroad. 14,300 expats from 174 different nationalities, living in 191 countries or territories were surveyed.

Sliema Promenade, Malta

Sliema Promenade, Malta

They rated 43 different aspects of life abroad on a scale of 1-7. Here are the results:

  • 11. Oman Cost of living and crime rates are extremely low in this country drawing the expats in.
  • 10. Taiwan – Taiwan is known for being the safest place in the world along with great career prospects and ranking high in job satisfaction.
  • 9. Finland – The most popular benefit of relocation to Finland according to a survey of 7 out of 10 expats was the personal safety benefit.
  • 8. New Zealand – The two main islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean that make up New Zealand is considered by expats to be one of the most peaceful places in the world.
  • 7. Norway – Again safety plays a huge part in the decision making for expats that have moved here with their families or for relationships.
  • 6. Switzerland – Switzerland is known for their continuously low crime rate drawing the expats in to relocate in their peaceful environment.
  • 5. Malta – Highly popular with British expats in particular, it is considered the state with the best climate in the world according to international living. This topped with high personal safety and security has made Malta the go-to country for expats.
  • 4. Canada – This country received high rankings in personal safety and security from expats due to their low crime rates across the board.
  • 3. Japan – “Peacefulness” is the word that comes to mind for many expats in the InterNations report that have relocated here after Japan broadened their remit to bring in skilled workers and expats.
  • 2. Singapore – This island nation is not only one of the richest countries in the world, but also boasts of having one of the lowest crime rates as well on every metric from personal safety to corporate crimes.
  • 1. Luxembourg – The crime rate in this country that holds around half a million people is considered to be one of the lowest in the world.

And there you have the results and we are not surprised, with Malta having one of the best iGaming lifestyles if you work in the industry coupled with one of the best weather conditions in Europe, plus feeling safe and secure! It’s no wonder more and more expats are relocating here to enjoy this slice of iGaming paradise.

Personalised Service from Identity Malta: A GamingMalta Initiative

IdentityMalta to service the gaming sector at Gaming Malta’s Smart City offices

Ivan Filletti

Ivan Filletti, Gaming Malta

If ever there was a perfect time to meet with Identity Malta on a one-to-one basis, this is the moment. All your individual requests and queries you may have will be answered there.

Gaming Malta has also stated that as part of this outreach program, there will be an option to add more dates if necessary.

In the words of Gaming Malta’s Ivan Filletti, “In collaboration with Identity Malta, Gaming Malta is inviting HR personnel and employees from the gaming sector to their Smart City offices on Friday, 17th February 2017 from 9 am to 2.30pm.”

We, at SiGMA, applaud this initiative! With so many expats relocating to Malta and work in igaming, the need to facilitate an otherwise bureaucratic application or renewal process is stronger than ever.

You are invited to register your interest in meeting with Identity Malta by clicking https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeo6Iw62OFEjkfLYsBoQYJ26PdBfECgKSL8cy5d-nEhpIP3kw/viewform and submitting your details by the 12th February 2017.