UPDATED/Muscat’s first act as Prime Minister: going to Betsson

Published: June 5, 2017 at 8:37pm

There has been talk for the past few weeks that Betsson, the remote gaming company which employs more than a thousand people here in Malta, took a decision to pull out of the country if Muscat’s party is re-elected to government.

This is on the basis that a remote gaming company cannot operate in a jurisdiction where the behaviour of politicians in government, and the malfunctioning of institutions, have caused reputational damage that has in turn drawn the attention of banks in other jurisdictions to Malta as a potential money-laundering risk.

Muscat was sworn in as Prime Minister today. A few hours later, I received information from a source at Betsson that Muscat will be visiting the company’s offices at 10am tomorrow, for a meeting with its most senior officials, seeking to address their concerns and persuade them against pulling out.

It is a private visit and the press have not been informed, let alone invited. It should be noted that the Prime Minister is visiting the company executives in their offices, rather than asking them to visit him in his as would be the usual protocol, which already indicates where the balance of power has shifted.

Betsson’s offices are closed at this hour and nobody could be found to comment. Meanwhile, I have messaged the head of government communications, Kurt Farrugia, to ask: “What is the purpose of the Prime Minister’s visit (without press) to Betsson tomorrow at 10am?”

I will let you know if I received a reply. The head of government communications took the time, yesterday afternoon, to send me – because I was apparently the main thing on his mind in the midst of news of electoral victory – insulting and highly unethical WhatsApp messages (bear in mind that we are now living in the Third World). So he should now do his job and take the time to reply to a work-related question.

UPDATED: The head of government communications has replied to say that the Prime Minister’s visit to Betsson is now open to the media. He added: “Once again I thank you for the contribution to our electoral campaign. We are indebted.”

I can’t imagine any head of communications working for Prime Ministers Fenech Adami or Gonzi talking to a journalist that way. He would have been fired immediately, even if the journalist were actually a Super One propagandist.

So I replied: “During the electoral campaign, you lost thousands of votes off your projected 50,000 majority, which is why you were still trying to buy them back with jobs, promotions, payments and contracts until close of business on the eve of polling day.”

48 Comments Comment

  1. The Dark Knight says:

    Mario Frendo, please be waiting outside the Fire Exit of those offices.

  2. And others, like the employees, will get what they don’t deserve.

    • Godfrey Leone Ganado says:

      Unless they voted for him. If they did they deserve it but unfortunately their decision will harm their own colleagues.

    • Daniela says:

      Which will be a shame… On side of me (and I know I should be assumed of myself) hopes a collapse will be imminent the other more rational and less emotional side hopes it doesn’t happen

  3. Daniela says:

    You should publish the offensive WhatsApp messages and report then if they are threatening after all you keep getting sued for libel when they get offended.

    On the other hand I guess it’s better to try and convince Betsson to stay than let them leave and cause lots of people to lose their jobs isn’t it? I heard that about Betsson too and whilst still bitter about a population that prefers corruption and being a laughing stock I actually did say things like I hope everything collapses.

    Now I’m calmer and would prefer if we survive the storm rather than end up in the midst of it. We will see. The electorate got the government it deserved – that’s the price of democracy.

  4. Catharsis says:

    Those who voted Labour only thought about themselves. Poor Malta.

  5. Butragenio says:

    Muscat will have to give Betsson what they want. Everything has a price in this world.

    • J. Borg says:

      And Muscat, the ‘King’ of Malta, can give them untold millions from the public purse — just because the PM has the power — and nobody can stop him.

  6. mallia says:

    Continue with your lies and hatred and we will stay united. Please accept the result and stop telling people that they are ignorant. They are not….thet chose well. They chose positiveness. They chose a great leader who lifted Malta so high. I have never seen such sucess and prosperity. Before you continue writing its better you wait for the analysis of the defeat because i m sure that you are one of the main reasons like you were in 2013.

    • That I was among the reasons for the defeat of the Nationalist Party in 2013, in its report on the subject, is fiction.

      I suggest you find the report and then try to find the reference to this. You won’t.

    • Smith241 says:

      Lifted Malta so high and tomorrow he is going to try to persuade Betsson to stay on. Joseph has shrunk your brains. Malta so high! Aren’t you ashamed to speak in that way. Now go and enjoy Joseph.

    • Godfrey Leone Ganado says:

      It seems that you have not read the PN pre-budget yearly proposals, the PN documents on various issues presented in Parliament during the legislature, the PN draft laws on various issues presented to Parliament.

      Had you done so, you would have realised that the positivity of the PN Opposition put to shame the recurring PL negativity during the years in Opposition.

    • Lydia Pace Workman says:

      Grammar; look it up.

    • natari says:

      Success and prosperity DO NOT happen over a four-year period, Mallia. Ask any well respected businessman how long it takes to build a company and honest reputation. There are two reasons that this happened.

      One, the proper groundwork was laid years before and the result began to be seen during the Muscat years. Lucky him, he didn’t need to lift a finger. The table was all ready set for a feast.

      Two, no serious entity makes a success of an undertaking in four years unless elements of corruption are present.

    • natari says:

      By the way, drop this positivity nonsense. It is a damaging concept. It is unsustainable.

      Humans have a wide range of emotions that need to be experienced. No amount of haranguing can force a person change what they are feeling, when instinct tells them that they are in the right place at the right time.

      Do you tell a grieving parent to be positive after the death of a beloved child? Of course an actor or cheat can overcome this natural instinct by pretending all is well. A normal person will find this pretence very difficult.

  7. may borg says:

    So now the visit is open to the media. When was Kurt Farrugia going to inform the press?

    They are indebted. Stenna xi flixkun inbid, Daphne.

  8. If you read the post again, you will see that I made no statement, except for the fact of the PM’s visit, confirmed by his head of communications, and that I said it was too late to find anybody to speak to at Betsson’s offices.

    The question you need to ask yourself is why the prime minister would, 24 hours after being sworn and before his cabinet has been appointed, visit Betsson.

  9. I think you’re posting this on the wrong website. I don’t work for the Opposition or the Nationalist Party, and this is a journalist’s personal website, not a campaign.

    • NoThanks says:

      The sheer number of people (who don’t read what you write) who don’t believe this simple statement is staggering, and they’re not Laburisti mind you.

      • One of the reasons I so rarely socialise in Malta is not to be reminded that many Maltese adults think like big children. This has nothing to do with which political party they support.

  10. Michael Mifsud says:

    You are wrong 135K do care as you seem to do as well since you are here. So stop posting stupidities.

  11. Michael Mifsud says:

    If you believe the joseph muscat dot com lies about Daphne Caruana Galizia and the Nationalist Party being one and the same, you might as well have voted for Joseph Muscat.

  12. Thank you. “Please don’t report about corruption because once I know about it I have no excuse.”

  13. Muscat was prime minister for four whole years and it suddenly becomes a pressing priority to visit Betsson now, 24 hours after being sworn in and before he’s got a cabinet of government.

  14. Messages from Muscat supporters, stirring the pot as usual.

  15. Josephine says:

    Were you, a “mere” member of staff, made aware of this visit?

    If so, then roughly when were you informed about it? Before the election, or today? Could it be that others were in the know, while you were not? Were you told about the press being present? Your answers could shed light on the reason for the visit – and more.

    • Guy Fawkes says:

      No, I was not aware of the visit or that Betsson was one of the gaming companies that would react to the Labour Party being reelected.

      I assumed that it might happen and before the election I wanted to ask someone from the top management about the company’s future here in Malta, but was told by many that the company would never share such information.

      Betsson was on the verge of investing in a huge campus because the office we have has become too small. Now all might be gone with the wind and tomorrow that idiot of a prime minister might go try to bargain some deal about this campus project.

  16. Anybody out jumping on a Labour truck over the past few days was part of Labour’s core vote. The views newspapers should be looking for are those of people who actually took a decision to vote Labour.

  17. Catharsis says:

    That’s even more tragic

  18. Catharsis says:

    No, it was fake news.

  19. Rosie says:

    They actually believe they won.

  20. Catharsis says:

    Exactly, because by their skewed mindset, it’s not the actor but the messenger who is wrong.

  21. Gerd says:

    Edgar, your comment is extremly short sighted. If you think that financial/gaming companies are in a process of deciding wether to leave a country or not is “just because they do not like the PM of a country” you are wrong.

    The pressure building up on companies in Malta doing business with the rest of Europe/the world is strong. Banks refuse to open business accounts or threaten to close them because of being based in Malta.

    Transfers are withheld and questions asked that delay the process of normal business.

    Adding to that the reputation that is important especially for companies listed on various stock exchanges within Europe.

    While you are right that other companies might come when others leave, do not underestimate the signal that is sent to entire industries if market leaders (may it only be due to pure size) leave a jurisdiction.

    I doubt that 1000 jobs are replaced by new gaming companies for the Betsson example as most of the new companies are only bringing in 10 or 20 jobs.

    If you just calculate the impact in the Msida/Gzira area regarding rental flats and money spent in restaurants, bars and shops that is not to be underestimated especially as this could be the first domino falling.

    Joseph Muscat (or any other party leader, as it does not make a difference) may be upset and is saying that all these reports of “Malta files” are lies or propaganda and he might find people who believe him within the population. But the fact is that big banks world wide are refusing business with Maltese companies.

    Just as a personal exercise. Go to degiro.eu one of the biggest (and cheapest) stock brokers in Europe. You will not be able to open a personal brokerage account with a Maltese bank account.

    And that is true for most of the retail banking sector across Europe.

    Malta is dependent on the financial/gaming industry by now as those industries feed the housing sector and the underlying loans.

    If you think sending all of those back and you would get a empty and still prosperous Malta, you are wrong and it might hurt to find out the hard way.

    Have a good night.

    • Edgar Gambin says:

      Gerd, I was being sarcastic. However I like your sound arguments. Wish you a good night as well.

  22. Paul Mifsud says:

    You are right, my friend. Very very soon.

  23. J.GILFORD says:

    So what is this cause i’m confused.

    • Gerd says:

      Betssons decisions on that scale are not made in Malta but in Sweden.

      For now everything is a rumour, and so as long as nothing is officially stated it will be business as usual for the company here in Malta and especially for HR here in Malta.

      That is why, obviously, the open jobs will stay open until a decision is made.

      Leaving Malta for a company that scale would take more than a year anyway.

  24. Lydia Pace Workman says:

    We will sell more passports, of course.

  25. Lydia Pace Workman says:

    Last thing they need.

  26. Stephen H says:

    I can assure you that Muscat was summoned and the boss will make him smell the coffee first thing in the morning.

  27. Mr. Fox says:

    I too have friends who work at Betsson and they all voted Labour. They just don’t care.

  28. Mandy Mallia says:

    Daphne is an easy scapegoat for people’s own failures, not least because such people fail to acknowledge that she is an independent journalist – maybe because, with their typical Maltese mindset, they find it hard to understand that somebody would do something so momentuous not for personal gain, but purely out of conviction, and to stand up for what is right even when the tide is against you. Thankfully, our parents brought us up to do and think differently to those people who think that a proper place for a head is below the parapet.

  29. E. Frendo says:

    Franco Debono can never be part of the solution, when he actually is part of the problem. No way.

Leave a Comment