The Lotteries & Gaming Authority of Malta (LGA) has a new Chairman, and he is a familiar face to those in the Authority. Former LGA CEO Mario Galea was appointed to the role by Parliamentary Secretary for Competitiveness and Economic Growth Edward Zammit Lewis, whose portfolio oversees the LGA.
Mr Galea, who was the Authority’s CEO between 2004 and 2008, has a solid reputation in the pro-online gaming community. It was under Galea’s watch that Malta’s laws permitting online gaming in the southern European country were introduced. Those laws have helped cement Malta’s status as the largest online gaming jurisdiction in the world today.
While Mr Galea’s term as CEO was successful in establishing a solid Maltese online gaming market, it was far less successful on Mr Galea’s personal life. He resigned from the post in October 2008 – four months before the end of his contract – due to health reasons.
In a May 2009 interview with Malta’s Business Today, Mr Galea said that he “worked an average of 18 hours a day – including weekends” while CEO of LGA, which led to rapid weight gain and his health “being seriously affected by the job”. He has since embarked on a weight loss regimen and established his own gaming consultancy business, and it seems he is now ready to be a central figure in Malta’s online gaming industry once again.
“I am delighted to be returning to the LGA and looking forward to work with the staff to keep Malta as a centre of excellence for gaming policy,” Mr Galea said on his appointment.
The appointment of Mario Galea is a clear sign of the recently elected Maltese Government’s view of online gaming as an important area of the country’s economy. Dr Zammit Lewis echoed this, saying that the Government, formed in March, views online gaming in Malta as a top priority.
“The new government is committed to strengthen and growing the online gaming industry, both strategically and organically,” he said following the announcement of Mr Galea’s appointment.
The island nation’s positive views on online gaming can be seen in the poker community. Professional players such as Justin Bonomo and Isaac Haxton moved to Malta following the infamous Black Friday in the US, which impacted their ability to make a living from the game in their native country.
Malta became the first EU member state to regulate online gaming in May 2004, which was also the same year the 400,000 person nation joined that organisation.