Minister for Finance and Employment Clyde Caruana

With Malta’s national budget due to take place on 24th October, the local iGaming sector, together with the economy at large, is facing several issues which stakeholders hope to see addressed. From banking to staff shortages, speaks to iGEN’s Enrico Bradamante about how this budget could serve the iGaming community in Malta as well as the local economy.

In a pre-budget statement, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana said that the Government would not introduce any new taxes or burdens. Still so far there has been no mention of any additional support for Malta’s iGaming sector.

In last year’s pre-budget statement, Minister Caruana argued that the most significant help the Government could give to the iGaming Sector would be for Malta to get out of the grey listing. Now that this has been achieved, Mr Bradamante commends the Government and the relevant institutions for doing so much work to get out of the grey list. He says that the Government has been “a good listening partner of the iGaming industry”.

Enrico Bradamante

However, he argues that banking is the biggest issue that the iGaming sector still faces. “In its electoral manifesto, Malta’s ruling Labour Party pledged to resolve the banking issue for the sector and ensure every business could open a local bank account”. Mr Bradamante points out that opening an account and banking with a local bank remains very challenging and that if this issue is not addressed in the budget, it will “remain the single most significant problem for the growth, innovation and prosperity of iGaming in Malta”.

Mr Bradamante shared that the industry’s preference would be to hire Maltese staff rather than rely on importing foreign talent and he says that “the second problem that we still have is to attract and retain staff: We have over 660 open vacancies across our member companies at the time of writing”. He would welcome Government funding to be announced in the Budget for any initiatives that could facilitate Maltese professionals to join the iGaming industry, as well as further educational programs to create a pool of qualified students for a longer-term strategy.

Until then, Mr Bradamante believes that the industry will need to continue to rely on attracting foreign professionals.  He adds that from an international community perspective the country’s reputation has taken a battering because of all the negative press surrounding the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination, greylisting and scandals of corruption and collusion.

Mr Bradamante says that  “Minister Silvio Schembri announced recently that the government is working on a reputation enhancement program which is very important from an iGaming industry perspective and we hope that the right amount of resources will be allocated in the budget.”

With regards to the iGaming sector’s expectations concerning taxation, Mr Bradamante says that that the 15 per cent global tax proposal by the OECD is of general concern, and that the government and the regulator have been proactive in engaging in discussions and consultations with iGEN. Mr Bradamante says that the iGaming sector is satisfied as long as the status quo remains.

The government is trying to promote the Esports and video gaming industries to come to Malta, and when asked how this may impact the iGaming industry Mr Bradamante says that ‘the connection between Esports and online gambling is not very strong” and therefore he does not expect any major impact.

To conclude, the consensus amongst iGaming firms is that the budget should allocate funds to having a strong reputation enhancement program in place with a focus to resolve the local banking issue and to invest more in preparing and educating the broader Maltese workforce for roles in iGaming.

Enrico Bradamante is the Founder and Chairman of iGEN, the iGaming European Network, and Chief Commercial Officer and Managing Director of Pariplay, a leading iGaming aggregator.

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