Malta i-Gaming Seminar 2014
By Warwick Bartlett
I am often asked what are the best conferences to attend. Not an easy question to answer given how many there is and what suits one section of the industry does not suit another.
This year I attended MIGS at the Hilton Hotel, Malta. The venue is great, the bedrooms are spacious, three restaurants, awesome breakfast, and courteous and helpful staff. So we are off to a good start!
I estimated about 400 delegates which is quite a lot given the number of conferences these days, generally most companies are cutting back on conference attendances. Cost to travel, food and beverage, and ticket price all add up to about £2,000 per delegate in some instances, and if it’s transatlantic even more.
Reassuringly he said anyone wanting to fix matches in the major European countries is ‘nuts’. So the reporting procedures put in place by bookmakers through ESSA are bearing fruit.
I was less re-assured to hear that match fixing was not all about players and referees. It would seem that corruption in football goes right to the top, with match-fixers claiming that the heads of various countries’ sports authorities are themselves corrupt and in on the fix. Declan’s book, The Insider Guide to Match Fixing is definitely worth a read if you are involved in sports betting.
They were not enthusiastic about the future with some saying it was absolutely dying. I did express caution stating that one company managed to produce US$1.1m in revenue with US$400m in profit. But the guys were having none of it. PokerStars they said had changed the T&C’s and players were not happy with that. But they acknowledged no one else comes close to what PokerStars has to offer in terms of liquidity.
Mr Cuschieri said there was a lack of political will in the EU to enact free movement of goods and services and even more barriers to trade were being erected.
Malta is a major igaming success story. In 2013 they had issued 321 licenses and this has grown to 401 in 2014. The number of companies operating on Malta has risen from 220 to 258.
The LGA has identified the UK’s Point of Consumption Tax and changes to VAT as major problems. However Malta is confident enough to be changing the curriculum in schools to produce students that are more aligned with the needs of the e-commerce industry.
Internet gambling has become a very important part of the Maltese economy. People told me it was now larger than the financial services sector and forty percent of residential lettings were to the i-gaming industry.
As most of the companies are smaller than those that we see in Gibraltar they are more entrepreneurial in outlook. Very often these days at conferences we see lots of lawyers, corporate service providers, payment solution companies and few gambling operators. MIGS was a welcome change to that and is on my conference list for next year.