Some 20 employees of a Norwegian gaming company based in Malta have been made redundant over the past few days following changes in the company’s business strategy, Times of Malta is informed.

Established in 2017 with its headquarters in Sliema, River iGaming made double-digit lay-offs after opting to focus on some aspects of its business instead of others.

Citing cost-cutting exigencies, the company’s CEO, Kent Staahle, was quoted by a gaming information service saying the company “initiated and partially completed significant cost cuts” to help put the business to business services in “harvest mode”.

According to Mr Staahle, River iGaming will now focus on its UK, Malta and Sweden licenced operations as it seeks to reduce the number of business-to-customers gaming brands in its portfolio.

Questions sent to the company by Times of Malta were not answered by the time of writing.

In recent years, Malta has increased its dependency on online gaming firms, with the sector amounting to some 12% of its GDP.

Although volatility is part of the industry’s trends, a number of Malta-based companies have laid off employees in the past months.

Last September, about 100 employees were made redundant by the Stars Group, while the following month another 30 Yggdrasil employees lost their jobs.

These redundancies in the local online gambling scene are taking place while growth is being reported in the online betting industry across the EU.

According to the latest data released by the European Gaming and Betting Association, Europe’s online gambling market grew 11% last year, from a €20 billion gross gaming revenue in 2017 to €22.2 billion in 2018. Online gambling accounted for 23.2% of the total European Union gambling market, up from a 21.2% share in 2017. The rest of the market in 2018, which has a total value of almost €100 billion, is still based on ‘traditional’ land based gambling, particularly lotteries, casinos, bookmaker shops and others.

The UK accounts for the largest portion of online gambling with a market share of 34.2% of all online bets made in 2018.

Sports betting was the most popular online gambling activity, with 42.5% of the total EU market share, followed by casino games (32.4%), lottery (12.6%), poker (5%) and bingo (4.3%).