PL calls for PN support in dispute with EU over online gaming
The Labour Party has called on the PN Leader Simon Busuttil to give direction to the PN MEPs to support the government in its stance against a Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions.
The Malta Independent on Sunday published a story saying that Malta is standing its ground in the face of pressure from the rest of the European Union to protect its coveted online gaming sector, which accounts for 11 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.
The issue centres on a new definition of ‘illegal sports betting’ being pushed forward by the Council of Europe in its Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions.
In a press conference held at the Labour Party Headquarters, Minister for Gaming Manuel Mallia said that the gaming and online betting industry employs more than 8,000 in Malta. It also injects more than €700 million into Malta’s economy each year.
He said that Simon Busuttil should use his influence on the PN MEPs and push forward Malta’s stance against the resolution. Dr Mallia explained that the Maltese government is not against the principle behind the resolution, which aims at protecting the industry from fraud and money laundering, but does not agree on the definition of ‘illegal sports betting’.
The definition in question reads: “‘Illegal sports betting’ means any sports betting activity whose type or operator is not allowed under the applicable law of the jurisdiction where the consumer is located.”
Minister Mallia explained that the European People’s Party, which is the party which the PN is part of, is in favour of the convention.
“We expect all of the six MEPs to work together in favour of Malta’s interest. Otherwise, we will be putting 8,000 jobs in danger, apart from all the money generated in renting and other spending.
“We are celebrating Malta’s Independence, a feast which should unite us all, even politically. Is Simon Busuttil willing to give a clear direction to his MEPs and push Malta’s position at an EU level? Is he going to use his influence in the EPP to help safeguard this important sector in Malta?”
Manuel Mallia said that the Malta Gaming Authority already corresponded with the six MEPs but some have not even replied.
Parliamentary Secretary Ian Borg, who was also present at the press conference said that Simon Busuttil should not only use his political direction on MEPs to put spokes in the wheels, but should use that influence to help Malta.