Bank of Valletta is shedding ‘high-risk’ clients, leaving many gaming companies high and dry and triggering a stark warning from one Maltese CEO.
“Malta has been the iGaming hub in Europe for long years, but a move like this will shake the whole industry. We have seen a lot of job cuts in the iGaming world during the past few weeks. This impossibility to hold funds locally will force the whole industry out eventually. We need to remember that iGaming makes a large part of the country’s GDP, so shutting more doors for gaming companies is suicidal because it will lead to mass redundancies consequently affecting the property market as well, mainly the rental one,” Nikolai Livori, owner of YoBetIt, told Lovin Malta.
Livori’s company was one of those affected by BOV’s de-risking exercise, which is being done on the instructions of the European Central Bank.
Companies like YoBetIt have been given two months by BOV to find alternatives for their funds and warned that credit cards would be invalid after 15 days.
“I have been a personal customer with the bank since I was a child. The company I run in Malta has been using BOV with no problems at all since 2012. Being one of the few Maltese owning a remote gaming company, we are not here for the tax advantage, but rather because we like what we do, and I love this country.”
“When we received this letter from BOV, allowing us only two months to move our money away, we were shocked mostly due to their in unprofessionalism in handling this.”
“Moving money is not an easy feat especially since it involves a lot of internal administration and fixed monthly payments that we were issuing through BOV, including salaries, sponsorships, technical integrations and more.”
Livori said that BOV not wanting to work with existing clean and MGA-regulated companies implies that the license in Malta is not as strong as it was believed to be.
“Our solution for the moment is to look for other possible local banks that accept regulated iGaming companies. If not we have no other option but to move money to another EU bank outside the island, making it harder to operate locally,” he added.
Speaking to Times of Malta this week, BOV chief executive Mario Mallia said the bank had come up with a new “risk profile”, in agreement with the ECB, which lays out how much risk the bank should operate under.
De-risking was ultimately healthy for the bank, he argued.
What do you think of the move by Bank of Valletta?