Gaming Minister Manuel Mallia shot back at a recent survey that found gaming executives felt underpaid, saying that their wages were higher than in other sectors on the island.

“You have to look at this in the context of the island we are on. The gaming industry’s wages in Malta are known to be high compared to other industries, so much so that other industries can find it difficult to hang on to employees, who are leaving for the better-paying gaming companies,” Dr Mallia said.

READ: €140,000 salaries still not enough, gaming sector survey suggests

The minister, who took over responsibility for the industry last year, said that he did not know what wages the executives were on, as his remit was limited to policy making and not the day-to-day operations of the sector.

He was reacting to a news report by the Times of Malta on the findings of a recent survey among locally based iGaming executives who felt salaries were not competitive enough.

The conditions in Malta are what they are: the cost of living is much lower than, say, London, so naturally so are wages

Bostonlink – a recruitment company in the gaming industry – said that a survey it conducted in the Maltese industry showed that salaries among executives working in Malta compared poorly to those in London and Gibraltar. Executives in Malta can demand annual salaries ranging between €90,000 to as much as €140,000.

Speaking to this newspaper yesterday from the sidelines of a conference organised by the Malta Gaming Authority which brought together local and international operators with EU legislators, Dr Mallia said that the jurisdictional operators were employing staff-determined wages.

“The conditions in Malta are what they are; the cost of living is much lower than, say, London, so naturally so are the wages. While we don’t have London’s wages, we don’t have its weather, so everything must be seen in context,” he said.

The minister was flanked by MGA executive chairman Joseph Cuschieri, who said Malta should not be compared to London but to its Mediterranean neighbours like Spain and Italy, which both had a gaming sector. Portugal and Eastern Europe were also regions which Malta compared favourably to, he said.

Meanwhile, the survey showed while the CEO of a gaming company in Malta can expect to earn some €140,000 annually, excluding benefits and perks, it was only the average. In fact some could earn more than €200,000.

At the same time, other average salaries for top executives range from €130,000 for a marketing director to €120,000 for a number of positions, including chief operating officer and IT director.

Mr Cuschieri said this was an area of concern, as a relative shortage of IT-savvy candidates were being tussled over by big industries on the island.

Interjecting, Dr Mallia said the government was committed to addressing this issue. “One thing we are considering is setting up a specialised academy with the best tuition, to ensure we have people to fill these jobs,” he said.

The online gaming industry in Malta has flourished in recent years, with thousands of foreigners, particularly EU citizens, relocating here. The industry pays high salaries, compared to local norms, and leaves a lot of economic spin-offs, especially in the booming rental property market and the leisure sector.

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