MEP Metsola visits Betsson offices
Player protection, responsible gaming, the protection of minors and the development of the online gaming sector in Malta were the main topics of discussion during a tour of the offices of online gaming company Betsson Malta this morning.
The visit was organised in the wake of the adoption of a European Parliament resolution on online gambling last week, and a public dialogue on online gambling in the EU’s internal market will be held at Europe House in Valletta tomorrow between 10am and 12.45pm.
MEP Roberta Metsola, who sits on the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) committee, explained that she and the other Maltese MEPs formed part of the minority who voted against the non-legislative resolution. While the report includes a number of positive measures such as calls for the protection of minors and for the European Commission to take enforcement action against member states that are in breach of EU law, it touches upon issues which are fundamental for Malta and the local gaming sector.
Dr Metsola said the report can only increase negative awareness on online gaming; it proposes, for instance, a joint definition of legal operators, which is incompatible with Maltese legislation. She said she could also not accept the call for national tax regimes for gambling services to be brought in line with one another; this should remain strictly a member state competence.
Betsson Malta CEO Ulrik Bengtsson said the company is investing more than €5 million in new state-of-the-art premises, which the first team of Betsson employees will move into during October. He said the company is committed to providing the best customer experience in the industry. It has been operating in Malta since 2006 and with 516 employees, it is the largest employer in the local gaming industry.
“We like the regulatory environment here, particularly due to its predictability and the opportunities it offers for long-term investment. Skills availability is another one of Malta’s attractive elements; in fact Malta has become a mini silicon valley for the gaming industry,” said Mr Bengtsson.
A Betsson executive gave a detailed presentation on the company's efforts to ensure responsible gaming, particularly by having a sound legal framework for player protection, age verification systems and a whole range of player protection tools, from deposit limits, to self-exclusion, to permanent closure of accounts.
The presentation highlighted that 15% of potential clients are turned away due to unclear verification of identity and age (minors are automatically excluded) and payments of bets being imperatively linked to verifiable bank accounts.