In 2020, Malta introduced a ‘revolving door policy’ limiting public employees in regulatory or inspectorate roles from joining the companies they helped police immediately after leaving the civil service.
This directive is in effect across the vast majority of Malta’s regulatory bodies, from the Malta Freeport Corporation to the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) and naturally also the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), which is responsible for the islands’ lucrative iGaming industry.
In practice, it means that no employee at any of the entities specified can establish a relationship of profit within two years of leaving public employment with any firm they interacted with in their prior capacity in the five years before leaving.
The exact designation for employees of each of the bodies specified varies, but is particularly broad at the MGA, ranging from top level positions (like CEO and chief regulatory officer), to more junior ones, like compliance officer, systems auditor and shift leader.
The rules, therefore, are almost all encompassing for employees of the MGA, and given the broad remit of the organisation of the local iGaming industry, regulatory staff seeking to switch to private sector – of which there have been many – must place close attention not to fall foul of the revolving door rules.
Additionally, according to one senior lawyer at a local firm, there are doubts that staff in the sector are aware of what exactly the rule means, and how it might actually affect them.
Speaking to iGamingCapital.mt, the lawyer claimed that people in affected positions have not necessarily been made aware of how exactly the rule will impact them.
“They need to be more aware of what they’re getting themselves into, because it could have a huge impact on someone’s career opportunities,” she added.
All this isn’t to say that MGA employees never join the regulated private sector.
Karl Brincat Peplow, for example, departed his position as chief regulatory officer at the MGA in January 2021. He now runs a gaming and IT consultancy firm that seems bound to have MGA-licensed entities in its stables of clients.
Riccardo Greco departed his position as MGA systems auditor in October 2021, and now serves as systems auditor at the MGA-licenced Betsson Group.
Claude Falzon left his position as senior compliance executive in July 2021, and now serves as senior technical compliance specialist at MGA-licenced Evolution.
Lastly, Joseph Attard now serves as managing director of Entain Malta, which has a number of MGA-regulated entities and subsidiaries, after serving as the MGA’s head of money laundering and compliance.
These career moves are, of course, not necessarily indicative of wrong-doing on the part of the professionals.
Indeed, while the MGA refused to comment on questions regarding these specific questions from iGamingCapital.mt, the organisation did provide insights as to how might not represent breaches to the revolving door rules.
Firstly, the entity pointed out that the two year period is reduced to six months for employees who were already appointed to affected positions before September 2019.
Then, the MGA pointed out, the prohibition only applies to private enterprises and non-governmental entities that the regulatory professionals interacted directly with during their time in civil service.
What does it mean for the local iGaming industry
At a time when skills shortages are particularly pronounced in the iGaming industry, the rules, if stringently enforced, would likely further aggravate the situation, pigeon-holing skilled workers and preventing them from staying in the iGaming industry after leaving the MGA.
There are also questions about how enforceable the rules, specified under Directive 14: Governing Framework for the Management of the Revolving Door Policy for Public Employees, actually are.
The aforementioned lawyer explained that the directive is not written in the clearest manner and would depend on court judgement should it ever be challenged.
Another lawyer added that as iGaming professionals are skilled in particular areas, the rules could have a draconian effect on their prospects.
There are, however, doubts about how tightly the directive is being enforced, and the same lawyer said she strongly suspected there hasn’t been much in the way of enforcement.
Indeed, as reported by BusinessNow.mt on Tuesday, the governing board responsible for monitoring and enforcing the rules has only completed a single investigation into a potential breach since it was introduced.
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