The Upper Reach Team interviewed Mr. Joseph Cuschieri Executive Chairman of the Lotteries and Gaming Authority, and asked him about the importance of the gaming industry in Malta. He spoke about the evolution of the gaming industry in Malta and outlined why Malta became the gaming centre in Europe. Upper Reach also discussed the LGA’s licensing program and its control methods, as well as the authority’s plans to orient towards the East in order to take full advantage of the new markets and opportunities emerging there.

This is a year of celebration for Malta, not just of how far you have come in the last 50 years of independence but also many other celebrations. Many countries in the European Union are going through hard times, while Malta is doing very well. I would like to ask you, what is the recipe for success in Malta?

Malta managed to steer itself safely through the crisis. If we look back at 2008, I think one of the most important aspects of our economic dynamics is our banking system: it is a very conservative, robust and well capitalised banking system. The banks here do not take unnecessary risks. We also have a strong regulatory framework which keeps the banking system in check. So, unlike other countries, we didn’t have to use taxpayers’ money to re-capitalise banks like other countries had to do.

The other aspect I think is the openness and diversity of our economy and the entrepreneurial spirit of many Maltese businessmen. The vast majority of the largest businesses in Malta are usually family-run businesses who are involved in different sectors of the economy including overseas investments. So, for example, you can have a group of companies which is involved in the automobile business, tourism, property and retail.  So if one sector is not doing well, there are other sectors that keep going hence compensating for the downturn in others. In other European jurisdictions if, for example, you are solely involved in the automobile business and the business experience a downturn, they will have no option but to lay off people to keep the business running.

Fast forward to today, we have a new administration which is very dynamic and business friendly. In fact, this year we will probably close the year with a 2.8% to 3% growth in our GDP, which is very good by any standard. Unemployment is at roughly the 6 percent level. Some of this unemployment is a result of the skills mismatch with the new economic sectors like remote gaming, ICT and e-commerce. In remote gaming, for example, two thirds of the people employed in this sector are foreigners. While there is nothing wrong in that, the fact is that there are jobs for the Maltese, but there isn’t the skill available to fill certain positions. In other sectors like ICT services, it’s the same thing. There are opportunities but the unemployed are people who either don’t want to work or don’t have the skills for these new growing economic sectors. I would call it artificial unemployment, because the economy overall is growing.

To continue reading, go to the full interview HERE.