Malta’s European Odyssey: Navigating rough seas

Malta’s European Odyssey: Navigating rough seas

The first panel to kick-off SiGMA Europe 2023 focused on the challenges that Maltese operators face in Europe. Aptly entitled ‘Malta’s European Odyssey: Navigating rough seas’ the panel brought together moderator Olga Finkel (Co-Founder & Partner, WH Partners) Carl Brincat (CEO, MGA), Joseph Attard (Director of International Compliance, Entain Group), David Yatom Hay (General Counsel, Soft2Bet) and Abby Rachel Cosgrave (Chief Legal & Compliance Officer, LeoVegas) and George Westin (founder, Hero Gaming).

David Yatom Hay
David Yatom Hay, General Counsel, Soft2Bet.
Carl Brincat
Carl Brincat, CEO, MGA.

The panel of experts shared their perspectives on the regulatory climate in Europe, shedding light on the challenges and opportunities faced by the gaming industry. The conversation delved into diverse topics, ranging from the impact of regulatory variations across jurisdictions to the importance of striking a balance between compliance and innovation.

Abby Cosgrave initiated the discussion by highlighting the uncertainty that prevails in the gaming industry’s regulatory landscape. She emphasized how operators, present in different countries, grapple with distinct regulatory requirements, necessitating a concerted effort to establish regulations that do not stifle industry growth. Cosgrave underscored the need for a cohesive approach to regulation, recognizing the intricate web of jurisdictional differences.

George Westin echoed these sentiments, acknowledging the prevailing apprehension in the current regulatory climate. Despite this, he noted that the gaming industry stands resilient across Europe, illustrating its significance to people. Westin expressed his view that compliance has become burdensome, diverting valuable time and energy from focusing on innovation. This sentiment underscores the delicate balance that regulators must strike to foster innovation while ensuring compliance.

Joseph Attard
Joseph Attard, (Director of International Compliance, Entain Group.
Olga Finkel
Olga Finkel, Co-Founder & Partner, WH Partners.

Carl Brincat added a political dimension to the discussion by emphasizing the influence of a country’s liberal or conservative stance on the affordability issue. He contrasted the approaches of the US and Europe, emphasizing Malta’s relatively liberal stance. Brincat stressed the importance of responsible gambling practices, intervening when data suggests potential risks or signs of addiction.

Discussing the recently published ESG code of conduct, Brincat expressed a pragmatic view, asserting that highly intrusive measures may not align with the industry’s business and entertainment nature. He highlighted the importance of treating the gaming industry as a business, emphasizing sustainability and balance.

Shifting the focus to the legislative landscape in Malta, Finkel asked panelists for their insights on how the MGA should proceed in the future. Joseph Attard emphasized the challenge for the MGA to maintain the ecosystem it has created and urged the regulator to address the skills gap in the industry. George Westin cautioned that Europe might risk losing the innovation race to the US if regulatory burdens become too cumbersome. David Hay stressed the importance of the MGA ensuring sustainability in its regulatory approach.

Addressing concerns about potential changes in direction with a new CEO at the helm of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), Brincat expressed confidence that the MGA’s trajectory would remain steady. He emphasized the collective intelligence and relevance of the many individuals within the MGA, underscoring the organization’s resilience and continuity.

Abby Cosgrave
Abby Rachel Cosgrave, Chief Legal & Compliance Officer, LeoVegas.
Gerge Westin
George Westin, founder, Hero Gaming.

In her concluding remarks, Finkel remained optimistic about the future of the gaming industry in Malta despite regulatory challenges. She emphasized the need for collaboration between industry stakeholders and regulators to alleviate the complexities of regulatory frameworks while upholding high standards. The key takeaway is that a harmonious partnership between regulators and the gaming industry is essential for navigating the evolving regulatory landscape and ensuring a prosperous future for the sector in Europe.

Join us in Malta for SiGMA Europe 2023

SiGMA Europe’s Malta Week festival brings together a diverse and international group of industry leaders for a convergence of expo, conference, and networking. The event is held at the Mediterranean Maritime Hub (MMH), a larger, more dynamic venue that promises a raw, industrial, and unconventional space unlike anything ever used before.

Find all the details here.

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