The revocation by the Swedish authorities of a Malta-based company’s online gambling licence over alleged anti-money laundering failings has cost the jobs of some 50 employees in Malta, Times of Malta is informed.
Tobias Fagerlund, CEO of Ta’ Xbiex Global Gaming – a Swedish company established on the island in 2014 – confirmed his company had to lay off half of its Malta-based employees.
However, he stressed that this had nothing to do with the Maltese gaming industry.
“Until a few weeks ago we had around 90 people employed or engaged as consultants in Malta,” he said.
“Now, after organisational changes, we are less than 50. We have reduced by almost 50% in Malta,” he admitted.
SafeEnt, the holding company of Global Gaming, was catapulted to the news earlier this year when the Swedish gambling regulator revoked its licence after discovering “serious deficiencies” in business practices, including failings related to responsible gambling and anti-money laundering measures.
Malta will still be an important hub in our business going forward
The revocation of the licence, that mainly affected the company’s operations in Sweden, has led to a significant drop in revenue for the company, prompting Global Gaming to cut its operational costs.
Details on the significant job cuts were revealed in the company’s latest revenue report, which showed a 42% year-on-year drop during the second quarter.
Mr Fagerlund described the last three months as “the most turbulent and difficult” in the history of his company.
“Malta will still be an important hub in our business going forward and we have no plans to decrease further,” he told Times of Malta.
Emphasising that the lay-offs had nothing to do with Malta, he insisted that his company was taking the necessary legal measures to appeal the decision of the Swedish regulator, as it deems it to be “disproportional and not in accordance with Swedish law.”
The lucrative gaming industry in Malta, which amounts to over 10% of the island’s GDP, has come under intense strain in recent years.
Claims of the Italian mafia infiltrating the sector and the lack of money-laundering surveillance have led to more checks and balances being introduced by the EU authorities and national regulators. The industry is also a major attraction for EU citizens coming to work in Malta. This has a major economic spin-off effect, mainly on the construction and entertainment sectors.
Industry insiders have repeatedly warned the Maltese authorities to step up their efforts to safeguard the island’s reputation, as this is crucial to avoid a downturn in the local gaming industry.