The history of iGaming in Malta dates back more than 20 years to 2004, when the country became the first EU member to regulate online gambling. Since then, the island has been considered one of the world’s largest and most influential iGaming hubs.

In our exclusive interview with Martin Collins, Chief Business Development Officer at Soft2Bet, we discuss Malta’s iGaming industry and what the future holds. As a British national with a family, Martin also shares his experience of relocating to Malta and what his role at Soft2Bet entails.

Can you tell us more about your iGaming background and your role as Chief Business Development Officer at Soft2Bet?

I have been working in the iGaming industry for 18 years now, having begun my journey in February 2006. Things were very different back then and the industry has changed dramatically over those years and throughout that time I have always worked in B2B capacity roles, such as recruitment, and I have also worked with publicly listed companies such as Gaming Innovation Group (GiG). I have been in my current role as Chief Business Development Officer at Soft2Bet since October 2023, where I am responsible for all B2B-related activity and Soft2Bet’s business expansion.

At Soft2Bet we have a number of different  products and revenue streams, but the most well-known among them is our Motivational Engineering Gamification Application (MEGA), our unique gamification platform.

One of the strongest features that MEGA brings to the market is its ability to generate returns and drive ROI for our partners in regulated markets. The spread of regulation in Europe, North America and, increasingly, in major South American countries is a huge positive for our industry, but also adds costs and regulatory hurdles that can make generating ROI within these markets very challenging.

“With this in mind, MEGA enables operators to engage with their customers on a deeper level and keep them engaged with quality gamification content. We strongly believe that in iGaming we are now battling for screen time against the likes of TikTok and Snapchat, rather than against other sportsbooks or casino brands.”

Martin discusses MEGA, Soft2Bet’s unique gamification platform

MEGA is a key component in that battle. The brands that provide it to their players have seen engagement levels increase fourfold (x4), with consumers becoming more engaged, staying on the site for longer and returning time after time to complete tasks, earn points or just brag about their leadership position in the chatrooms!

All this activity adds more data points on customers, allowing our partners to better personalise the user journeys and experiences.

It also creates a loop between casual gaming, the gamification component, and the real-money gambling and sportsbook components. It is great from a responsible gaming perspective: the consumer is not constantly gambling and is being engaged through content, loyalty points and rewards programs.

Regulated markets generally mean higher taxes, licensing costs and even marketing and bonus restrictions. We believe our MEGA gamification solution is a great tool to overcome those challenges and generate ROI without running the risk of breaching compliance or regulatory requirements.

What is the landscape of the iGaming industry in Malta, and how have things changed on the island in recent years?

When I moved to Malta in 2009, the industry was very much in its infancy. Not long after I relocated, Italy introduced online gambling regulations and I thought it would not be long before other countries followed suit and start to impact the Malta Gaming Authority and its ability to say it operates in a particular area (EU freedom of services and establishment).

Since then, more countries have regulated, and although MGA still has a footprint, it has become much smaller. But, in that period of transition between Italy regulating until now, a lot of organisations have also moved to Malta because there is a massive talent pool. This has continued to grow and has become crucial for Malta as a hub for iGaming and sports betting.

As a work environment, Soft2Bet currently is more office-based and from a recruitment perspective we believe this provides a good work-life balance as our teams are able to log off after a day’s work (while of course being able to connect from home in case of emergency).

We believe camaraderie and teamwork are easier when colleagues are sat next to each other, but equally having the ability to “switch off” is a major positive and something we feel strongly about at Soft2Bet. As a large employer, getting teams in the office and fostering strong teamwork and productivity is not easy, but we feel we are getting it right overall and are always willing to listen to our employees and HR partners for their feedback.

What does the future look like for the iGaming industry in Malta?

There is no doubt in my mind that a lot of people left the island during the pandemic. Wanting to be closer to their families and the ability to work remotely became the norm and were attractive and understandable options for many. However, what I’m seeing now is almost a reversal of that, and a lot of people are now moving back to the office.

Personally for me this is great news, I’m someone who needs to be around people and I think things are moving back in that direction. In my opinion, it depends upon the organisation and the individual to determine which working arrangement works best for them.

On the whole I would say the situation has now returned to normal in Malta, with a strong talent pool and renewed urge to drive the iGaming industry forward.

What was your experience relocating to Malta as a British national with a family?

In terms of Brexit, from my personal perspective, I obtained a 10-year visa, which I am now around three to four years through. Realistically, the application is a small bit of paperwork. If anyone from the UK wanted to relocate to Malta, they would go through a similar process as they would anywhere else. Malta is a fairly international place, so the process is pretty straightforward.

I like that Malta is a small island, which works for me because I enjoy that close-knit community situation. A lot of people say Malta is like marmite; you either love it or you hate it. However, I’m of the opinion that if you’re willing to make an effort anywhere, then you can make it work.

What do you miss about living in Scotland?

Obviously, my family are still in Scotland, so I miss them. However, I enjoy returning home a few times a year to visit them (not so much during the winter months though!).

Can you share what you enjoy most about working with BettingJobs?

BettingJobs has been active in the market since almost the beginning of the industry. Consequently, most people who have worked there over the years have gone on to pursue senior roles with some very well-known companies in the industry. It just shows you the quality of the people that have come through the doors in East Kilbride, and that is reflected in the length of service of the senior management and wider team, which speaks for itself. The fact you have all that knowledge in one place is so important. Whenever you mention BettingJobs to someone in the industry, they’ve always got positive things to say: that BettingJobs delivers and that they are committed. We went through a nice process with Jennifer Innes and Iain Watson from the team who helped us hire a member of staff who will soon be joining our team in Malta, and they’ve been a great help.

We would like to extend a special thanks to Martin for participating in this exclusive one-to-one interview. Martin has highlighted the importance and significance Malta holds within the iGaming industry, and has shone a light on the island’s rich, dynamic 20+ year-long iGaming history.

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