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Former LGA employee Valery Atanasov taken lightly over alleged irregularity reports

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The  Lotteries and Gaming Authority’s preceding employee, Valery Atanasov  (now the Malta Gaming Authority), revealed to the Malta Independent on Sunday that in spite of him contacting a number of authorities, including the Internal Audit and Investigations Department (IAID), the police and the FIAU over alleged irregularities at his workplace. He felt they took him lightly and showed a nonchalant attitude towards his allegation. Atanasov filed an application in the Law Courts recently to be recognised as a whistleblower. He affirmed not only about his speaking to the aforementioned authorities about the alleged irregularities, but also about the handing over of a file of documents during a meeting held with an official at the Office of the Prime Minister. The Bulgarian national held his office with the Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) between 2008 and 2015.

He told this newsroom: “As the only employee of the LGA responsible for the inspection and sealing of all Remote Gaming Operators (RGO) based in Malta for the period from May 2011 to July 2014, I established and duly informed my supervisors of a number of violations of the Remote Gaming Act. More precisely, violations relating to the fact that no changes to gaming systems can be made without the Authority’s prior approval, and that no gaming equipment can be used in the operation of an authorised game pursuant to an online betting or online gaming licence, without the prior approval of the Authority. Тhe law explicitly requires that all IT equipment of an RGO must be registered and approved by the LGA before it is used online.”

The sealing process, he explained, involves going on site to inspect servers. A sticker is placed on the server, which forms part of the gaming system, in order to know that the server is registered with a particular gaming company and has been certified by the LGA. If a server is replaced, the company is obliged to inform the LGA to reseal the server. In order to change a server, the company has to submit details regarding the new gaming system infrastructure to be reviewed by the authority and, if approved, would be given permission to install the new servers. Finally, the servers are sealed (using the stickers) to confirm that the new servers can go live.

Atanasov held that sealing is an important part of the procedure to ensure that no gaming equipment is used in the operation without the prior approval of the Authority, that the LGA has information for all the servers used for Remote Gaming from Malta and that there was no tampering with the Remote Gaming Systems.

Atanasov said he noted a number of irregularities, including companies that were operating without having their servers sealed, and others that spent periods of time operating on a Letter of Intent basis, without having a full licence. While this was practice at the time, some companies operated on a letter of intent for years, with some of them being closed down before they got their licence. That system ended in 2012.

Atanasov stated, he had been reporting irregularities to his superiors for quite some time and, in 2013, he approached the Internal Audit and Investigations Department (IAID). Atanasov showed this newsroom signed declarations he made before the IAID, where he had mentioned a number of cases.

One such case involves a major betting company. Atanasov claims that he had gone on-site to a data centre housing their servers, and together with another inspector found 10 racks of unsealed servers. He maintained that the company’s key official told him that the servers had not been sealed since 2008. He told the IAID that he had informed his supervisors about the situation and that a few days later the company received approval from the LGA for new seals. He also highlights that a second company was discovered to be in a similar situation.

Atanasov said he had taken his vacation in June, and upon his return, he found that “everything was cleaned in the LGA’s system and these two companies had passed the system review”. Atanasov mentioned a number of other examples, including one instance where he says he discovered a company in the process of transferring its business to another company without having notified the LGA.

Atanasov had a number of meetings with the IAID in January and February 2013 with his final meeting held in April 2013 as he felt the unit was not taking any action. In one meeting dated February 2013, the IAID declaration report read that on the “Attorney General’s instructions in writing dated 11 February 2013, IAID will try to verify the reliability of the information received through our powers as auditors/investigators and ‘that the matter should be referred to the police if concrete evidence is found which gives rise to a reasonable suspicion that a criminal offence has been committed’”.

Atanasov was called in by the Police Economic Crimes Unit, and a declaration signed 1 May 2013 details a question and answer session he had there. At that meeting, he mentioned some of the alleged irregularities. He was also asked by the unit whether the LGA had a system of monitoring remote gaming companies (at the time), like surprise visits, and he said he had no knowledge of it. He mentioned noticing that the LGA had two systems to monitor network devices constantly, “but most of the time they are switched off and only switched on when there are EU visitors.” Atanasov says he never heard again from the police unit.

In February 2013, he also contacted the Ombudsman, over both the alleged irregularities, as well as issues regarding alleged harassment. He was told that the Office of the Ombudsman does not investigate allegations of corruption as these fall within the competence of the Permanent Commission against Corruption. He was also told to contact the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) with regard to his harassment allegations.

Atanasov contacted the Ombudsman again in 2016, sending his “official Protected External Disclosure” in terms of the Protection of the Whistleblower Act. The Ombudsman’s letter read: “As you were an employee of the Malta Gaming Authority, a public entity, the Whistleblowing Unit in the Office of the Ombudsman cannot accept your document as a protected external disclosure, as the issue does not fall within the remit of this Office… you should submit your protected External Disclosure to the External Whistleblowing Officer, at the Cabinet Office in the Office of the Prime Minister, as stipulated in Part 2 of the First Schedule of the Act.”

Atanasov says he sent an email to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in February 2014, in an attempt to “make sure that he (the Prime Minister) was informed of irregular practices”. Atanasov said that he is willing to meet the Prime Minister to provide him with documents. The email does not contain a whistleblower request. In response, he said, the Prime Minister wrote: “What you are saying is a matter of concern and I thus urge you to report immediately to the Chairman of the LGA.”

Atanasov said he had been trying to discuss the situation with the LGA Executive Chairman and sent him an email. Atanasov said he was surprised when the chairman replied and “the Internal Auditor at the LGA was also copied in the reply I received, as he was one of the persons I was reporting. The next day a woman contacted me and heard me out.”

Atanasov claims, however, that he later realised that the woman was the wife of the very same internal auditor.

He had also contacted the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit on 23 July 2014 and asked them for a meeting. In a document titled ‘whistleblower disclosure’, which he sent to the FIAU, he alleged that a group of gaming consultants had a certain amount of control over the licensing process for their clients.

He told the FIAU that on 18 July 18, he had a meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister with a certain official and that he had “presented a number of documents that provided evidence of specific people’s involvements in corruption schemes in the gaming sector”.

He also said in the document that he wanted to “provide the facts and a number of documents to support my statements which will prove: No control over gaming transactions; No control over money flow generated by Remote Gaming; Lack of control and monitoring in the Remote Gaming Sector – companies operating from Malta without their gaming systems being licensed; Ineffective systems and compliance audit of Remote Gaming Operators; Non-transparent procedures and unspecified rules in the sector; Unregulated lobbying in favour of certain persons and companies – companies receiving licenses without having complied with the procedures and requirements.”

In an email to him dated 21 August, an FIAU official said that he had been in contact with officials from the Office of the Prime Minister, the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government in order to definitively clarify reporting procedures insofar as such disclosures are concerned.

The FIAU told him that it could not accept his protected disclosure since he worked in the public sector and the FIAU “is an Authority prescribed to receive external disclosures from the private sector”. It told him that, as per the Whistleblower Act, an employee of the Lotteries and Gaming Authority should direct their submission to the External Disclosure Unit within the Government of Malta.”

He also contacted the Permanent Commission Against Corruption but was told in a letter that the Permanent Commission Against Corruption only investigates external allegations (in terms of the Whistleblower’s Act) from the private sector.

Atanasov told this newsroom that he did not file a whistleblower request with the Secretary at the Cabinet Office at the OPM because at this point he was discouraged after having gone around in circles and that he had already sent an email to the Prime Minister and spoken to an OPM official.

Allegations investigated in 2014, no irregularities found – MGA

The Malta Independent on Sunday contacted the Malta Gaming Authority and asked it a number of questions.

While Atanasov gave detailed accounts of the alleged irregularities in the sealing process to the authorities, the MGA, in its replies reproduced below, admits that there were “occasional” situations where servers were not tagged or sealed, but says that sealing itself was an “outdated and non-critical” process.

The MGA was asked what action it took on the allegations made by Atanasov, and what investigations took place.

“Valery Atanasov’s allegations were investigated by our Internal Auditor way back in 2014. As a result, no irregularities were found. It is unfortunate that Valery Atanasov keeps making such unfounded and baseless allegations against the MGA and its employees. We look forward to the opportunity to provide all the information, explanations and evidence in the Law Courts to clear this matter once and for all,” the MGA responded.

The MGA was asked to confirm or deny the irregularities and for their comments.

“Valery Atanasov’s allegations centre around an outdated and legacy process called ‘sealing’ which was only an internal, non-critical inventory control procedure which has since been discontinued and replaced by the process of tagging of equipment solely for inventory control purposes.

“The Authority employs other procedures which include third party technical audits and spot checks, data extractions (physical and remote), lab certificates of critical components (e.g. servers, random number generators), website/data centre traffic monitoring and verification of replication procedures for data not hosted in Malta.

“Furthermore, gaming companies are allowed to use cloud-based solutions which are approved by the MGA before going live. This provides the Authority with the required assurances and capability to conduct its supervisory functions effectively. The Authority also audits its licensees’ information security procedures and processes against an internal manual largely adopted from international technical standards. This provides a far more comprehensive control environment than any physical sealing. It is pertinent to point out that servers can also be located overseas in line with the freedoms established under the EU treaty and hence the shift in ensuring that such servers are located in ISO certified data centre facilities, having world-class standards, which includes ongoing surveillance and 24/7 CCTV monitoring.”

The MGA was also asked why some gaming companies, under the LGA’s time period, were allowed to operate without having their servers sealed, and what action was taken against said companies.

The MGA responded: “The sealing of servers was an internal, non-critical procedure which has since been discontinued. It was in place mainly for inventory control purposes and was not a legal requirement. It was never considered as a material breach from a regulatory standpoint so in the occasional event of servers not being sealed or tagged, explanations were always sought from the relevant licensee and matters regularised accordingly.”

This newsroom asked the MGA to confirm that some companies, during the LGA’s time period, were allowed to operate without a licence and just with a letter of intent, to which the MGA said: “The practice of letters of intent was discontinued more than five years ago. It was considered as a ‘testing licence’ by the previous management but have since been revoked and/or converted into full licences by June 2012.”

The MGA also said that today “all companies operate with a full licence”.

 

 

 


Source: European Gaming Media and Events

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Switzerland’s upcoming referendum about the online gambling industry will be presented by Dr. Simon Planzer at Prague Gaming Summit 2018

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Prague – 23 February 2018 – The second edition of Prague Gaming Summit will include a wide range topics and compliance updates from various countries in the region and we are adding a new topic in the panel discussion for the event which will take place on the 29th of March at Andel’s by Vienna House Prague.

Besides the compliance updates and opportunities of the Czech, Polish, Slovak, Slovenian and Austriand markets, the event will also feature a presentation of the highly awaited referendum in Switzerland.

On September 29, 2017 the Swiss Parliament passed a revised gambling law entitled the Money Gaming Act. The Act unites Switzerland’s existing acts on casino games and betting/lotteries into a single Act. The new Act equally lifted the current online gambling ban, however only operators of licensed casinos (type A and B) may qualify to apply for an additional online casino license. The new Money Gaming Act therefore provides the possibility to block access to foreign online gambling websites to Swiss citizens.

Despite not being strictly prohibited, online gambling was technically illegal under current legislation but international operators were able to target local players. However, the new law ends that and formally legalises online gambling, but bars international companies from operating within the country.

Therefore, internet service providers will be obliged to block access to international gambling operators’ websites and the Swiss government will provide compensation for any expense it may provoke.

In spite of clearly passing the parliament, the new legislation was challenged by the youth organisations of the Swiss People’s Party, the Free Democratic Party and the Green Liberal Party. They wanted to organize a referendum against blocking international operators which needed to gather 50k signatures in 100 days in order to even take place.

On January 18, 2018 the required number of signatures were finally submitted. Therefore, a public referendum concerning the Money Gaming Act will take place on June 10, 2018.

If the Swiss electorate accepts the act by referendum, the new Gaming Act will remain unchanged and come into force during 2019. In the other hand, the parliament will have to pass a revised new Gaming Act, delaying the process of implementation

The latest topic announcement comes along with the announcement of a new speaker who will join the “Focus on Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Austria” panel discussion and will give the inside information about the Swiss market and the upcoming referendum.

Dr. Simon Planzer(Planzer Law)

Partner at PLANZER LAW

The Zurich-based gaming law boutique PLANZER LAW provides strategic, regulatory and legal advice to stakeholders across all areas of the gaming industry. The firm’s primary focus is on EU/EEA gaming law, compliance issues such as AML as well as Swiss gaming law and related commercial, corporate and financial matters.

Simon is General Member of the International Masters of Gaming Law. An alumnus of the College of Europe, he specialised early on in EU affairs and gaming law, working at the EFTA Court, the legal service of the EFTA Secretariat and as research fellow in European business law.

Simon is the author of the monograph (PhD) ‘Empirical Views on European Gambling Law and Addiction’(2014) and the book chapter ‘Gambling Law’ in The Handbook of EEA Law (2016), both published by Springer International Publishing. Simon also works as a Lecturer in Law at the University of St.Gallen where he teaches European Economic Law. He studied and did research i.a. at Harvard University, the College of Europe and the European University Institute.

More speaker profiles will be releases soon, but you may want to check the already confirmed line-up of speakers and register in time. The event is limited to 125 seats.

Make sure you register in order to get a chance to networking with the representatives of Fortuna Group Entertainment, Sazka, Superbet, NetEnt, Cubits, Payout s.r.o., Nmi Gaming, Data Bet, Pangea Localization Services, PMU, BMM Testlabs, ROMBET, All-In Translations, Trustly, Betgenius, Endorphina and much more.

Visit the official website of the event for more details: https://praguegamingsummit.com/

To hear more about the subjects and meet Simon in person, make sure you register and attend Prague Gaming Summit 2018, held on the 29th of March at Andel’s by Vienna House Prague.


Source: European Gaming Media and Events

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Metal Casino goes “All in” with Ozzy Osbourne as mega influencer in UK social media channels

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Metal Casino goes "All in" with Ozzy Osbourne as mega influencer in UK social media channelsReading Time: 2 minutes

Casino for hard rock music fans takes first steps in Britain with incredible videos in which Ozzy plays casino games and reveals the truth about Lemmy, Jimi and Slash

 

22 February 2018 – MALTA (Press Release):  The world’s only online casino for hard rockers – Metal Casino – is now boosting its marketing outreach with ambassador and partner Ozzy Osbourne in a unique campaign.

Starting February 26th, the casino is going to be increasingly visible on both Facebook and Instagram.

After the casino’s successful launch in August 2017, Metal Casino will now turn up the volume in the UK, with a social media campaign boosted by Ozzy, who acts as a mega influencer through his own channels.

In January, Metal Casino travelled to Culver City, Los Angeles to film some exclusive material with Ozzy, including an extended interview where the legend plays the hard rock games Motörhead, Guns & Roses and Jimi Hendrix while reminiscing about his friends Lemmy, Slash and Jimi. He also introduces us to the legendary Rainbow Room and tells us never-heard-before stories about The Beatles and his guitarists, and recalls crazy casino trips with Motörhead’s Lemmy.

The half-hour long interview will be divided into five episodes, which will be released separately through social media channels. In these episodes Ozzy will be giving away signed prizes to lucky lottery winners.

The campaign will reach its peak this spring and summer when Ozzy is touring.

We are absolutely delighted by the results,” said Metal Casino’s Clas Dahlén. “The recordings with the quick, witty and super-professional Ozzy became an epic rock documentary with elements of casino gaming.

The interviews will be a perfect vehicle for reaching out to music and gaming fans. Metalheads will be wowed by Ozzy’s personal memories from the history of rock that have never been told before, and hopefully they will go viral on social media.

Previously, Metal Casino has brought together the world’s top hard rock stars as influencers, such as Scott Ian (Anthrax), David Ellefson (Megadeth), Lord Ahriman and Sweden’s own king of rock, Dregen.

This spring’s campaign with Ozzy, together with our new Metal Casino Live stream on Wednesdays and Fridays, will increase the brand awareness and strengthen our three promises: True, Relevant and Dedicated, and boost customer influx even more,” added Dahlén. Metal Casino – All in for the fans!

Preview MetalCasino UK TV ad.

 

About Metal Casino

Metal Casino is owned by VRTCL Gaming AB and is the world’s first casino that embraces Metal music fans and casino lovers. Players will be able to win Metal merchandise, concert tickets, meet bands backstage and more. Launched in 2017, its founders have spent over 30 years working in the most successful music, gaming and tech companies in the world, including Mr Green, Universal Music, EMI, Spotify, Microsoft, and Apple iTunes.

Metal Casino is set for an international launch in the UK, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Finland. Communication will be only in the “universal language of Metal”, English.

Metal Casino, created by Metal music fans for Metal music fans, is licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority and the UK Gambling Commission.


Source: European Gaming Media and Events

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BetterBetting announces its BETR token listing on HitBTC exchange

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BetterBetting announces its BETR token listing on HitBTC exchangeReading Time: 2 minutes

Tallinn, Estonia – February 23, 2018 (Press Release): BetterBetting, a blockchain-based, decentralised peer-to-peer sports betting system, recently announced its eagerly awaited listing on the HitBTC exchange.

HitBTC, a global trading platform with multi-currency support, has been operating as a major exchange since 2013. By trading volume, HitBTC has been consistently among the top 10 exchanges (24 hours trading volume at time of press: $431,266,065 USD). The exchange has markets for trading digital assets, tokens and ICOs, and provides a wide range of innovative features as well as stable uptime.

BetterBetting raised in excess of $5.5M from over 2,500 valued participants over the course of its ICO, which ended on 31st January, 2018.  Since the ICO completion and alongside a central focus on development of the technology platform, the BetterBetting team has been working towards establishing a portfolio of exchanges on which the BETR token is listed, encouraging increased liquidity and token use.

CEO Adrian Brink commented: “HitBTC has strict criteria for listing and requires an extensive amount of due diligence prior to extending an offer so we are pleased to have established this partnership with them. We anticipate having an active community and an increasing demand for the BETR token.”

BetterBetting is also pleased to announce its collaboration with The Bancor Network™, a decentralised liquidity network. By integrating the Bancor Protocol, BETR token holders will gain access to continuous liquidity regardless of trade volume or exchange listings, through the Bancor Network. BETR will activate a Token Relay™ with its circulating token supply and users will be able to purchase and sell BETR tokens directly at a formulaically calculated price.

Additional networks for trading the BETR token are Etherdelta, Idex, Waves and Bisq.

The BETR token will be the industry standard for a transparent, provably fair and unbreakable sports betting system for all online sports gaming. The company’s advanced distributed peer-to-peer and peer-to-sportsbook wagering platform facilitated through frictionless use of BETR, will be accepted and integrated with the leading sports betting sites, worldwide.

The BetterBetting Foundation was established in 2017 in Estonia, aiming to integrate blockchain technology into sports betting for a decentralised gambling system. Founded by Adriaan Brink and David Vanrenen, BetterBetting is a non-profit group of crypto currency and sports betting experts inclusive of the supervisory board members David Vanrenen, Hilly Ehrlich, and Mitchell Rankin; and the advisors Jon Matonis, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Jez San, and Eric Benz. For more information, go to https://betterbetting.org/.

 

For enquiries about BetterBetting and the BETR token please contact:

info@betterbetting.org

Tel: +44 (0)7500662977


Source: European Gaming Media and Events

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