Responsible gaming foundation to lead prevention drive

Gaming authority to set up independent foundation to lead prevention drive against gambling.

An independent foundation for responsible gambling was today launched by the parliamentary secretary for competitiveness and economic growth Edward Zammit Lewis and the social solidarity minister Marie Louise Coleiro Preca.

In a flourishing gaming industry, which employs over 7,000 and makes up around 10% of GDP, the foundation will play an important balancing act, Zammit Lewis and Coleiro Preca said.

However, the social solidarity minister denied that this foundation is a token gesture, insisting that "it will play an important role as a safeguard as the government is embarking on a national prevention policy."

Describing the gaming industry as a "necessary evil," Coleiro Preca said that the government cannot ignore the industry's importance to Malta's economy "and we cannot suddenly change direction."

Zammit Lewis also rejected the notion that the foundation was merely a token gesture, stressing that the Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) was in the process of introducing stricter regulations and regularise unregulated sectors such as social gaming.

"Our priority is to increase regulation and strengthen enforcement," he said, pointing out that this was the only way to rout out the black market.

The junior minister added that the Labour administration will allow the industry to "flourish" while creating a balance and focus on promoting responsible gambling.

"We're working on a holistic policy which not only regulates the sector but above all clarify what is permissible and what is not," Zammit Lewis said.

He also pointed out that Malta is a leader in the market and the Labour government will ensure that the country's retains its leadership by acting swiftly in an ever-changing landscape.

"We want to attract new niches, which will in turn create new jobs and bolster the country's tax revenues which we will use to strengthen social policy, education and health services," Zammit Lewis said.

Coleiro Preca also announced the creation of a national prevention strategy which will include all stakeholders who work in diverse sectors such as alcohol and drug abuse, usury, obesity and gambling.

"This will resolve the problem created by fragmentation of resources and bring all stakeholders, including state agencies, ministries and civil society," she said.  

The purpose foundation, which will be funded by contributions by the national lotteries operator Maltco, EU funds and other funds made available by the Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA), will be made up of representatives from the education ministry, the social solidarity ministry, LGA, the industry and a chairperson appointed by the ministry for economy.