‘We have weathered the storm’ – MGA CEO

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 May, 2021 at 11:02 am by Andre Camilleri

Newly appointed Malta Gaming Authority CEO Carl Brincat speaks to The Malta Business weekly about the industry’s resilience

Coming into the ship’s helm amid a pandemic and over the Brexit period is no easy feat for any CEO. Dayna Camilleri Clarke spoke to Dr Carl Brincat, CEO of Malta Gaming Authority, who commenced his position in January of this year, to discuss the industry’s resilience. Dr Brincat is no stranger to the sector, having worked within MGA for many years including as Chief Legal and Enforcement Officer.

The key priorities of the Malta Gaming Authority are to streamline bureaucratic processes and continuing to build on reputation, including by working on tweaks to legislative framework for player protection.

“I am proud of the work that has been done by the Authority so far in raising regulatory standards and committed to ensuring we continue along this path,” Dr Carl Brincat, CEO of the Malta Gaming Authority, told The Malta Business Weekly.

“However, we must use this as a stepping stone to become even better and continue to cultivate stronger partnerships with other regulators and stakeholders, and the industry itself.  At the same time, digitalisation and better coordination will help us condense unnecessarily lengthy processes,” Dr Brincat said.

MGA currently oversees over 330 entities registered on the islands. The MGA was established in 2001 to regulate the various sectors of the gaming industry that fall under the MGA’s authority, by ensuring fairness and transparency to players using gaming services, preventing crime, corruption and money laundering and protecting minors and vulnerable players.

As for the new player protection proposals, Dr Brincat continued: “Player protection has always been one of our regulatory priorities, yet the pandemic highlighted the need for an ever greater level of protection as the circumstances it brought about gave rise to a potentially increased incidence of addiction to gambling. Every licensee has a legal and moral responsibility to support their players, and on the whole, that’s what we have seen, but we need to ensure that’s echoed in legislation. Our process has been driven by an evidence-based approach and external studies on the effectiveness of the relevant measures, and on this type of approach the MGA is one of the thought leaders amongst regulators.[BCaM1] ”

Brexit also saw changes across the sector. “We had many companies choose Malta as their place of establishment within the European Union,” Dr Brincat told this newspaper.

Asked if the sector saw redundancies and felt the hit as a result of both Brexit and Covid-19, Dr Brincat replied: “The industry is a resilient one. Fortunately, it did not feel the impact other sectors experienced, and seems to have weathered the storm, partly due to its dynamism and constant innovation. What we did see was entities restructuring how they work. As much of a disruptor as the pandemic has been and continues to be, it has also been a driver of change. It has required rethinking certain processes and work practices that were perhaps the result of legacy decisions but could be done away with in today’s world. At the MGA, it served as a wake-up call on certain practices we had in place that were not conducive to the digital submission of all information, and we started and will continue implementing changes on that front. We were ready to work from home almost overnight. We found online training for staff a very effective means of reaching out and knowledge sharing, especially internally.”

When it comes to the change in working patterns, Dr Brincat explained, “The gaming sector has always been innovative with flexibility, remote working and employee perks, and now we are seeing companies shift more to a hybrid way of working. I believe companies will still be based here in Malta with a physical office to retain corporate ethics and culture, but will use the office  more as a hub, with people working sometimes from the office and sometimes from home. I think this is the case for many industries, not just gaming.”

When asked if he thought the sector was a boom that is gradually passing, Dr Brincat was quick to reply, “No, quite the contrary. It’s a highly sustainable sector. With the combination of the MGA’s commitment to continuously improving as the sector’s regulator and the Government’s ongoing dedication to ensuring Malta remains an attractive and competitive place of establishment for the gaming industry, I can only envisage that the industry will continue to thrive in Malta. Rather at MGA, we want to accelerate our continued growth as a regulator to strike a balance between upholding the highest regulatory standards but still being adequately rapid and flexible for such a dynamic industry.”

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