Increasing reputational problems, particularly with regards to money laundering and the rule of law in Malta, were highlighted by top online gaming company officials during a conference on the flourishing industry.

Speaking at the KPMG Gaming ESummit, senior executives from various gaming companies based in Malta said that although the prevailing situation of their business was satisfactory, there was increased need for the authorities to tighten regulation and ensure the negative perception of Malta as a money laundering island, especially in the international press, was given the required attention.

According to Enrico Bradamante, chairman of iGEN, the government was not doing enough to combat the bad reputation Malta was getting, especially abroad. The island’s reputation was increasingly getting worse and he insisted that something had to be done.

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He said his group was discussing with Maltese government representatives ways on how to ensure that the rule of law was upheld to the best standards possible.

Some of those attending the conference, mostly lawyers, said that, although it was true Malta was facing a reputational problem, some of the bad press being attributed to the island was overstated.

The government was not doing enough to combat the bad reputation Malta was getting

According to Trevor Degiorgio, from Greentube, the island was getting a bad reputation even when it did not deserve such criticism.

He said some of the reported Mafia connections with companies that also had Maltese licences effectively consisted of operators who were now conducting business in line with their Italian licences.

Still, it was Malta that was getting the blame, he said.

Malta’s gaming industry featured in a number of Italian police investigations on possible connections between criminal organisations and money laundering activities using online betting sites based on the island.

The Malta Gaming Authority last year withdrew the licences of some operators while others gave up the licence themselves after being investigated by foreign authorities.

Other problems mentioned by gaming company officials in connection with the future of online gaming development in Malta included the high increase in property rents, which, according to many executives, were becoming unrealistic and unaffordable even for their own employees, normally handsomely paid, the lack of schooling facilities for young families and high inflation.

The online gaming industry, which was introduced to the island in the early 2000s, has become one of the major players in the Maltese economy contributing about 12 per cent of GDP and employing thousands, mostly foreigners.

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