Mario Galea has resigned from his post as Malta Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) board chairman after less than six months in the role.
The surprising move was first reported by Malta Today and did not specify the date in which the resignation would be effective. Galea was the LGA’s CEO between 2004 and 2008 and built a solid reputation in the pro-online gaming community.
Under Galea’s term, 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.
Galea had been hired by the LGA to serve as board chairman back in May, four years after he stepped down as CEO. It had been originally anticipated that Galea would have a longer stay as chairman.
However, rumours began to swirl late last month that Galea could be on his way out of the post due to what some Maltese opposition politicians saw as a conflict of interest. Galea had been a former owner of online gaming service provider Bellmed, something which drew criticism even though the former chairman never tried to hide his past role.
It was not the only high-profile LGA resignation that was announced – CEO Reuben Portanier also confirmed his departure from the authority. Joseph Cuschieri was announced as the new ‘executive chairman’ of the LGA and has no evident background in the gaming sector.
Cuschieri does, however, appear to have a wealth of experience in the top levels of business and the public sector, which will likely be an asset in his new role.
Parliamentary Secretary for Competitiveness and Economic Growth Edward Zammit Lewis, whose portfolio oversees the LGA, said that Cuschieri’s new role in the Authority was a highly important one and was confident he was the man for the job.
“I am delighted to announce this appointment at such a crucial stage in the development of the on-line gaming industry in Malta,” he said. “”In his new role, Mr Cuschieri will be focusing amongst other things on reforming the authority to make it more efficient and agile, strengthening the relationships with all stakeholders, strategically grow the on-line gaming sector, and promote Malta as a globally recognised gaming jurisdiction.”
Malta is a key nation in online poker and gaming. It became the first European Union (EU) member state to regulate online gaming in May 2004, which was also the same year the Southern European nation joined that organisation.