euben Portanier took over as chief executive officer of the LGA nine months ago. In his first interview given just ahead of the upcoming IGE-ICEi exposition in London, Portanier spoke at length with The Sunday Times newspaper.
The objective of the interview was to create an awareness of the LGA profile at the exposition. Portanier claimed that more than half the exhibition will be occupied by companies that have a Maltese connection. The LGA, with a 14 member team, will be participating in the ICEi for the seventh time. Portanier explained that it is important for operators desiring to establish their businesses in Malta to obtain a complete understanding of the business environment.
Usually the operators only make inquiries about information pertaining to taxation, legal and technical matters. However issues like property prices and crime rate are equally important. Therefore Maltese audit firms, real estate agents, telecommunication providers, law firms and other operators will have a presence at the exhibition.
Speaking about broader issues Portanier reiterated the LGA commitment to the European Union principles of free movement of goods and services between member nations. He said that keeping up with dynamic technology developments was a major challenge for the LGA in the coming period. The technology in the online gambling industry is changing rapidly and the certifiers, auditors and even legal experts at the LGA have to be in tune with these changes. Outsourcing some of the work to private certifiers helps the LGA to react to changes swiftly.
Another issue that it important at the LGA is socially responsible gambling. It involves keeping out money-launderers and operators involved in other illegal activities. It also involves protecting vulnerable groups like children. In this context the LGA collaborates regularly with the local police and banks. It also collaborates with international agencies like Europol, Interpol and other regulators, especially while carrying out due diligence procedures.
When Portanier had taken charge the applicants were complaining about the backlog in license processing. The LGA has increased its turnaround time by 27% already. It has now set a target to speed up processing by 40% without diluting the integrity of the licensing procedure.
In 2010 license holders can expect major changes in the technical and legal functioning of the LGA. The representative body of the license holders, the Malta Remote Gaming Council, had forwarded suggestions in the technical arena. Two committees have reviewed the suggestions and are likely to come out with their report very shortly. A review of the legal framework is also underway.
Finally, Portanier was upbeat about the online gambling industry in Malta and opined that despite the covert global economic conditions the number of licenses being issued will continue to grow.