Insight

Embracing Innovation is the Key to Future Growth

Emmanuel Mallia, Minister for Competitiveness and Digital, Maritime and Services Economy, shares his views on the Maltese vision for the future of the iGaming industry and fostering a business environment similar to the 'Silicon Valley' concept.


The iGaming industry has been a great success story for Malta, how would you describe the industry today?

Malta’s rapid expansion over the years as a global iGaming hub shows little signs of slowing down. We were the first EU member state to introduce iGaming regulations and this, together with the regulatory approach adopted by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), created a framework demanding professionalism without undermining efficiency and innovation along the way. The growth has been facilitated by an ancillary service industry that has positioned Malta as a one-stop shop jurisdiction. Malta has a competitive advantage by being a EU member state, so that operators don’t face the same difficulties as offshore jurisdictions are dealing with.

 

What are the Government’s policy priorities and objectives for the iGaming industry?

Our vision is clear; and we want to nurture the ‘Silicon Valley’ concept of our business climate with competitive frameworks that foster innovation. The overall framework must remain relevant, robust and streamlined to embrace innovation and growth. From a regulatory perspective, we aim to reduce duplication of requirements for operators across iGaming sectors and other markets, while we also hope to facilitate market entry in other jurisdictions via bilateral agreements. The social considerations shall not be underestimated, we want to understand any harms associated with gaming to measure and regulate the problem. We believe that the industry is a key partner in this area, and that the sustainability of their business depends on their ability to promote responsible gambling, to avoid more intrusive and prescriptive regulation. This is a sensitive area and individuals too should carry responsibility together with the state.

 

“Our vision is clear; and we want to nurture the ‘Silicon Valley’ concept of our business climate with competitive frameworks that foster innovation.”

 

 

Essentially the objectives are clear – fostering a gaming environment that is socially responsible and free from crime. Admittedly, there is always a trade-off in regulation between consumer welfare and industry welfare with resultant spin-offs on state revenues. Jurisdictions who prohibit or restrict remote gaming do so on the premise that it is not socially acceptable and that it is riddled with risks of fraud and crime. Malta wants to continue to be recognised as a jurisdiction with adequate controls and safeguards to support our argument in the EU fora, that providers legally established in Malta, should not require licences in other member states to provide their services cross-border.

 

What initiatives are planned for the iGaming industry in 2017?

2017 will obviously be the year of the legal overhaul. Beyond that, we must keep up our participation and political position on the gaming front in the EU and international fora in the wake of any potential challenges hindering the freedom within the internal market, and remain committed to defending our right to offer cross-border services. We must also look beyond the EU and foster bilateral relationships with other jurisdictions in the best interest of the sector.

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