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Malta: The Jurisdiction Of Choice For Blockchain Businesses?

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The Jurisdiction Of Choice For Blockchain Businesses?Reading Time: 5 minutes

The below interview has been conducted by Jo Caruana (MaltaChamber.org.mt) – View original source here.

Dr Joseph F. Borg, an advocate and partner at WH Partners, talks through the history of Blockchain and highlights its potential path for the future.

There is an absolute buzz about cryptocurrencies at the moment, as well as whether to invest in them, or to put them down to a scam. Either way, the business world is fascinated.

One expert on the subject is Dr Joseph F. Borg, an advocate and partner at WH Partners, who heads the Blockchain Advisory and the Gaming and Gambling Advisory sections of the firm. On top of that, he is the Vice-President and Co-Founder of BitMalta, which is a non-profit organisation that promotes and stimulates discussion about Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in Malta.

“Let’s begin by explaining what a cryptocurrency actually is,” Dr Borg says. “Essentially, it is a type of convertible virtual currency secured by cryptography that is built on top of the Blockchain – a type of distributed ledger technology which does away with the need for a third-party clearinghouse and central issuer. As a result of their underlying decentralised technology, cryptocurrencies have introduced much-needed competition in the digital payments industry and have the potential to contribute positively to citizens’ welfare and economic development, including in the financial sector. Some of the most popular touted benefits of cryptocurrencies are their ability to lower transaction and operational costs, to promote financial inclusion, to enhance the resilience and speed of payment systems, and to increase users’ security and privacy, among others.”

Nevertheless, the idea presented by cryptocurrencies – the first of which was Bitcoin – was not in fact new. A number of similar virtual currency systems including e-Cash, Bit Gold and RPOW, were introduced in the 1990s.

“The true innovation of cryptocurrencies following the ‘Bitcoin model’ is their innovative approach to addressing the ‘double spending problem’,” Dr Borg continues. “This refers to the inherent difficulty of sending money or anything valuable over the internet since a digital asset essentially comprises a digital file that can be duplicated or falsified.”

Pre-Bitcoin, existing virtual currency systems required the use of an intermediary or clearinghouse to manage and verify the transaction (and ensure that the same money was not spent twice). The Blockchain, which underlies cryptocurrencies, does away with the need for such an intermediary by keeping a record of every transaction on a time-stamped database that is dispersed among the different users of the network. “Blockchain’s solution to the ‘double spending problem’ has been described as its ‘revolutionary promise’ and the hype factor surrounding the technology has now led multiple companies to unveil a multitude of Blockchain initiatives,” the advocate continues.

“The hype is really about Blockchain and not cryptocurrencies per se. Cryptocurrencies are really the very first application of Blockchain technology, and which have the potential to disrupt the payments industry, once they have achieved the level of mainstream use.”

On the other hand, Blockchain has more widespread potential applications, in myriad industries, including but not limited to the spheres of finance, healthcare, energy and entertainment. “The buzz surrounding Blockchain technologies continues to grow, and this is most evidently illustrated by the rapid increase in the creation of not only new cryptocurrencies (the so-called ‘altcoins’), but also by the creation of self-executing digital contracts (smart contracts), intelligent assets which may be controlled over the Internet (smart property), and decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) which can operate over a network of computers without human intervention, among many other applications,” Dr Borg says.

Locally, Government approved its National Blockchain Strategy in April 2017 and, just a few months later, launched a Blockchain Taskforce with a view to establish the Maltese legal system as the leading international hub for digital technology innovation.

“Currently, the only concrete step undertaken by Government towards achieving a comprehensive regulatory framework for operators wishing to provide services incorporating Blockchain technology is the Supplementary Rules for Collective Investment Schemes Investing in Virtual Currencies, issued by the local financial regulator, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA),” Dr Borg says.

Following on from this, a consultation document was published on 16th February 2018 proposing three legislative instruments: the Malta Digital Innovation Authority (MDIA) Bill, the Technology Arrangements (TAs) Bill and the Virtual Currency (VC) Bill. The MDIA Act is envisaged to provide for the establishment of a national regulatory body that will oversee the voluntary certification of TAs such as smart contracts and cryptocurrency platforms, and the registration of Technology Service Providers (TSPs) including the auditors and administrators of TAs. The MDIA will be responsible, inter alia, for the protection of users and consumers which interface or use DLT, the harmonisation of practices and the adoption of standards in the Maltese sector, and the promotion of legal certainty in the application of laws to DLT businesses, in both a national and a cross-border context.

“Mindful that the disruptive nature of Blockchain technology renders it apt to have spill-over effects in an array of sectors, the MDIA Act is proposed to prescribe a Joint Coordination Board with the responsibility of fostering effective cooperation between National Competent Authorities like the MFSA and the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA),” Dr Borg continues. “The consultation document also proposes a VC Act which will largely follow the principles laid down in the MFSA’s discussion paper on ICOs, virtual currencies and related service providers. It is projected that the VC Act will provide for a Financial Instruments Test which will determine whether a particular cryptocurrency, within the context of an ICO or on a stand-alone basis, constitutes a ‘financial instrument’ which must comply with applicable local and EU investment services legislation.

“With this in mind, Government evidently looks favourably upon Blockchain-based businesses and is actively seeking to create a workable regulatory framework to further promote this nascent industry and to become a pioneer in regulating DLT and Blockchain technology. While other jurisdictions have chosen to regulate Blockchain-related operations in a piecemeal fashion, focusing only on the areas that the respective governments/states consider to be of importance (such as issues of taxation or money laundering), the Maltese Government is considering a holistic, all-encompassing regulatory approach to creating the most attractive environment for Blockchain start-ups to choose Malta as their base. Evidently, the recent announcement by cryptocurrency exchange Binance (the largest cryptocurrency in the world in terms of volume) is proof that Malta is indeed becoming a melting pot for Blockchain businesses, start-ups and industry giants alike.”

Finally, Dr Borg assesses the main challenges that lie ahead of making Malta the jurisdiction of choice for companies engaged in Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

“While the debate surrounding the possibility for centralised rules to regulate decentralised technologies remains unsettled, there seems to be consensus by the stakeholders and market players of the Blockchain and cryptocurrency industry that some form of regulation (especially in the form of guidance) is important,” he says.

“The greatest challenge to make Malta the jurisdiction of choice for Blockchain-based businesses therefore rests in any proposed regulatory framework not falling prey to over-regulation. The test for local policymakers and regulators will be the development of a regulatory system which addresses the primary policy concerns of Blockchain technologies (such as money laundering and illicit activities), without smothering the benefits which the new technology and its various applications are poised to provide to legitimate users, including companies.”

 

Source:  MaltaChamber.org.mt

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International Game Technology PLC to Host Second Quarter 2018 Results Conference Call on Tuesday, July 31, 2018

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International Game Technology PLC to Host Second Quarter 2018 Results Conference Call on Tuesday, July 31, 2018Reading Time: 2 minutes

LONDON, July, 2018 — International Game Technology PLC (“IGT”) (NYSE:IGT) will host a conference call and live webcast to discuss second quarter 2018 results for the period ended June 30, 2018 on Tuesday, July 31, 2018.

Conference call:
Tuesday, July 31, 2018
8:00 a.m. EDT

US/Canada Toll-Free Dial-In Number: +1 844 842 7999
Dial-In Number (Outside US/Canada): +1 612 979 9887
Conference ID (passcode): 3642779

Webcast:
A live webcast may be accessed along with accompanying slides under “News, Events & Presentations” in the Investor Relations section of IGT’s website at www.IGT.com. A replay of the webcast will be available on the website following the live event.

Telephone replay:
A telephone replay of the call will be available for one week:

US/Canada Toll-Free Dial-In Number: +1 855 859 2056
Dial-In Number (Outside US/Canada): +1 404 537 3406
Conference ID (passcode): 3642779

 

About IGT:
IGT (NYSE:IGT) is the global leader in gaming. We enable players to experience their favorite games across all channels and regulated segments, from Gaming Machines and Lotteries to Interactive and Social Gaming. Leveraging a wealth of premium content, substantial investment in innovation, in-depth customer intelligence, operational expertise and leading-edge technology, our gaming solutions anticipate the demands of consumers wherever they decide to play. We have a well-established local presence and relationships with governments and regulators in more than 100 countries around the world, and create value by adhering to the highest standards of service, integrity, and responsibility. IGT has over 12,000 employees. For more information, please visit www.IGT.com.

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This news release may contain forward-looking statements (including within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995) concerning International Game Technology PLC and its consolidated subsidiaries (the “Company”) and other matters. These statements may discuss goals, intentions, and expectations as to future plans, trends, events, dividends, results of operations, or financial condition, or otherwise, based on current beliefs of the management of the Company as well as assumptions made by, and information currently available to, such management. Forward-looking statements may be accompanied by words such as “aim,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “plan,” “could,” “would,” “should,” “shall,” “continue,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “future,” “guidance,” “intend,” “may,” “will,” “possible,” “potential,” “predict,” “project” or the negative or other variations of them. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which such statements are made and are subject to various risks and uncertainties, many of which are outside the Company’s control. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should any of the underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may differ materially from those predicted in the forward-looking statements and from past results, performance, or achievements. Therefore, you should not place undue reliance on such statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements include (but are not limited to) the factors and risks described in the Company’s annual report on Form 20-F for the financial year ended December 31, 2017 and other documents filed from time to time with the SEC, which are available on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov and on the investor relations section of the Company’s website at www.IGT.com. Except as required under applicable law, the Company does not assume any obligation to update these forward-looking statements. You should carefully consider these factors and other risks and uncertainties that affect the Company’s business. All forward-looking statements contained in this news release are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement. All subsequent written or oral forward-looking statements attributable to International Game Technology PLC, or persons acting on its behalf, are expressly qualified in its entirety by this cautionary statement.

Source: Press Release submitted to European Gaming Media

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Big Fish Games migrates to new HQ, with plans to reel in top talent with eye-catching space

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Big Fish Games migrates to new HQ, with plans to reel in top talent with eye-catching spaceReading Time: 3 minutes

Big Fish Games has a new headquarters to go along with its new leader.

The Seattle-based gaming company, which was acquired by Australia’s Aristocrat Technologies for $990 million earlier this year, moved into its new office in Seattle’s Pioneer Square this week. In the appropriately named Maritime building, Big Fish has leased all the office space — 187,000 square feet in total — with more than enough room to house its 633 Seattle employees plus the more than 100 open positions the company is advertising online.

The move is another sign of a new era for Big Fish. In 2014 it was acquired by Churchill Downs Inc., operator of the famous Kentucky Derby racetrack, for $885 million and sold again to Aristocrat earlier this year.

Just this month the company announced former Electronic Arts and Zynga executive Jeff Karp is joining Big Fish Games as managing director and president. He is taking the helm permanently after former CEO Paul Thelen left following the Aristocrat acquisition.

Aimee Paganini, lead senior game producer for Big Fish, has worked through all these changes. In her six years at the company she’s worked on several of Big Fish’s flagship games like Fairway Solitaire and Panda Pandamonium, and right now her latest game, Let’s Dish, is in Google’s open beta program. Paganini, who leads a team of 27 people, said not much has changed with her day-to-day operations despite the company shuffling between two parent companies in four years.

“I’m really fortunate that I have a boss and a general manager that allows our team to run as a small business,” Paganini said. “They’re the investors, so we need to make them happy.”

But the new headquarters will bring major changes for Paganini and everyone else at Big Fish. Employees felt like fishes out of water in the old HQ space at 333 Elliott West, which Big Fish steadily grew into over the years.

The company started looking for space two years ago, and at the time it surveyed employees to see what they wanted. The main gripe was lack of transit connections. The old office, which is just a few blocks down from where Expedia is setting up its Seattle HQ for a move next year, only has access to a couple of bus lines. Pioneer Square is the transit hub of the region, with hundreds of buses and a light rail line just a few blocks away, and plenty of access to restaurants and other attractions.

“We were out on a deserted island or at least peninsula on Elliott Avenue, so coming here it really opened up the ability for people to go out and experience the neighborhood,” said Evan Cottingham, director of real estate and facilities for Big Fish.

The old office was never a perfect fit for Big Fish, as the company gradually took on more and more space in the building from Classmates.com. Gaming companies have different needs than traditional office users — testing areas, big desks to spread out multiple devices and monitors, lots of collaboration spaces for meetings — and none of that really existed in Big Fish’s old space.

For Big Fish, the new digs will help with recruiting in the competitive gaming hub of Seattle that includes tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft and others prominent gaming powerhouses such as Valve and Bungie. Before, Cottingham said its interview rooms were “windowless dungeons,” and now they look out over the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains.

Nearby spaces for human testers will have multiple cameras that track eye and hand movement of users when playing.

“Everyone assumes that a game company, a tech company, is a playground, but there’s a lot of work,” Cottingham said. “I can’t fathom how much Aimee and her team does to produce a game, so I need to design for all those ideas.”

Big Fish leased the building close to two years ago in a deal brokered by Seattle real estate company Clark Fadden and has been waiting for its new HQ since. During that time, the Maritime Building has undergone a complex and unique renovation. Crews dropped three additional stories on top of the 108-year-old structure to add to the office space.

 

Source

Source: Press Release submitted to European Gaming Media

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Aruze Gaming America Enters Licensing Agreement with Walker Digital Table Systems, LLC.

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Aruze Gaming America Enters Licensing Agreement with Walker Digital Table Systems, LLC.Reading Time: 2 minutes

Aruze Gaming America, Inc. (“Aruze”) obtaines a license from Walker Digital Table Systems, LLC (“WDTS”) to the world’s most powerful RFID chip technology, PJM3.0™.

 

“As we expand our business, we’re partnering with the best companies in these new areas. We are excited about the potential that these relationships unlock,” said Eric Persson, Aruze Gaming’s Global Chief Operating Officer and President of Aruze Gaming America.

“We are very pleased that Aruze has chosen PJM3.0™ for their RFID chip solution,” said Neil Crossan, Chief Commercial Officer for WDTS. “As a leading casino supplier, they have adopted the global standard, opening up a world of possibilities for their customers. PJM3.0™ is the RFID protocol that supports table gaming applications in the world’s largest casinos, delivering unmatched game protection, data and performance.”

As Aruze continues to expand their product offerings, they will be delivering their casino chips and RFID casino chips to the casino industry before the end of 2018, with the first install slated to happen in October 2018.

Persson adds, “We intend to be a major market disruptor, with the best technologies and prices that are often half that our competitors are charging. Walker Digital’s PJM3.0™ technology coupled with our chips allows us to provide a turnkey product to our customers.”

For more information regarding Aruze’s RFID casino chips or Aruze’s Electronic Table Games products, please contact Brandon Knowles at Brandon.Knowles@Aruze-Gaming.com.

 

About Aruze Gaming:
Aruze Gaming designs, develops, and manufactures slot machines and gaming devices for the global casino market. With affiliates in America, Hong Kong, Australia, South Africa, Macau, Philippines, and Japan, Aruze Gaming produces innovative gaming products, including high-resolution video and stepper slot machines, communal gaming products, and multi-terminal devices.
For more news and information about Aruze, please visit http://www.aruzegaming.com.

About Walker Digital Table Systems:
WDTS provides automation for live-dealt casino games including the RFID-enabled Perfect Pay™ table system that sets the standard for game security, accuracy and efficiency while delivering the player’s preferred live gaming experience. WDTS solutions are powered by patented PJM3.0™ technology, the fastest RFID for gaming. WDTS is headquartered in Las Vegas with sales support in Macau, SAR.
For more information about WDTS, please visit http://www.wdtablesystems.com or email contact@wdtablesystems.com.

Safe Harbor Statement
This press release contains “forward-looking statements” based on current expectations that are inherently subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Actual results or achievements may be materially different from those expressed or implied. Our plans and objectives are based on various assumptions, all of which are difficult or impossible to predict accurately and many of which are beyond our control and are subject to change. Therefore, there can be no assurance that any forward-looking statement will prove to be accurate.

Source: Press Release submitted to European Gaming Media

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