Innovation has long been critical to Maltco CEO Vasileios Kasiotakis’ approach to leading one of Malta’s most impactful entertainment companies. But he doesn’t work alone and takes a clean-cut approach to leading his substantial team. “I love to train people and
facilitate them to achieve their personal targets,” he says with a smile. “I guide my people to excel – both at company level and personally. It’s important to live and let live.”
It’s an ethos he has used throughout his time with Maltco – a company he joined in 2011. He brought vast expertise to the role thanks to his Master’s Degree in Marketing followed by 20 years’ experience at top multinational firms including Unilever, Nestlé and INTRALOT. “I gained hands-on knowledge of retail, sales, marketing, innovation and business strategy, and operations, while working across Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America,” he explains. “It really strengthened my understanding of global operations, and it has influenced my time and vision at Maltco Lotteries.”
After all, Maltco has long been a trailblazer in its sector, having been awarded an exclusive licence to operate all national lottery games in 2004. Since then, the company has developed an unmatched retail network (the largest on the island), and has launched numerous games over and above its original portfolio of SUPER 5 and the LOTTO. “I remember preparing and introducing the UBET sports betting games back in 2004 and 2005 as INTRALOT Marketing Director,” the CEO continues. “It was fantastic to bring a new range of activities to our players and to provide fresh opportunities to our Maltco agents. And we didn’t stop there, later introducing Quick Keno, Bingo 75, Fast Bingo, Quaterno+, Horse Racing and Ambo on SUPER 5 with INTRALOT’s Systems.”
However, despite this high-end and consistent roll-out of games and entertainment, nothing could have prepared Vasileios for the changes 2020 would bring, when all of Maltco’s outlets would be shut due to COVID-19. Thankfully, the company’s digitalisation plan had already been conceptualised and the team opted to bring its implementation forward by a couple of years.
“Aside from concerns about our own activities, we were also very worried about our agents, whose livelihood was at stake when their shops had to shut their doors. So, aside from working with Government to secure the COVID-19 grant for this sector, we also launched our games online over the INTRALOT Lotos Xi platform and gave our agents the opportunity to earn commission that way.”
Thus, it was a big day for Maltco when, in October, a number of its games launched online over Lotos Xi, including SUPER 5, LOTTO, Quaterno+, SUPERSTAR and Quick Keno under the iLottery umbrella. “We now see it as an extension of our existing retail channels,” Vasileios continues. “It’s all about bringing Maltco’s thrilling gaming experience online, and curating an ever-changing mix of cutting-edge games based on responsible gaming principles. The result has been very exciting, and the platform offers players a state-of-the-art, intuitive digital gaming experience that provides full access to the island’s favourite draw number games. Beyond that, the commission system we introduced for our agents is absolutely unique in the world and we are very proud of it.”
There’s no doubt about the challenges that 2020 brought, but there were many high points for Vasileios, who says he was obliged to become ‘captain’ of the ship when the pandemic hit.
“I led the way and was an innovator, but I couldn’t have done it without my team. Everyone brought brilliant new ideas to the table, while I was the one taking the reins and steering the ship. I believe I was able to bring it into a safe and stable port,” he says.
Impressively, he was also able to manage all this while working from home in his native Greece. “All of our people switched into work-from-home mode,” he continues. “And I think they thrived under this new system. Everyone will keep working from home until at least the first quarter of 2021, and then we’ll reassess after that. Meanwhile, from a personal perspective, my return to Greece turned out to be the catalyst for me to then relocate my family to Malta. We all moved back here a few months ago and it has been so positive for our way of life.”
In fact, the CEO notes that many prospects have been created by what’s come to light in the past 12 months – not least the endless opportunities created by the online world. “Work that would normally take two-to-three years to complete was achieved in six months,” he enthuses. “Now that we have experienced that stride forward, we won’t hold back, and there is going to be a lot of new development required to meet our players’ need for entertainment. Thus, digital will grow at double the speed, while retail will sustain itself and grow in terms of image and service. 2021 will be marked by a major drive towards customer care and the upgrading of our facilities. We plan to invest heavily in training for more and more of our employees, and to increase the number of people working for us, both in retail and online. Responsible gaming will, of course, also be key and another one of our major development areas.”
So with excitement in the air about the opportunities ripe for Maltco to take on, and a clear path for digitalisation and expansion in place, Vasileios is looking forward to 2021. “Maltco is an organisation that belongs to the Maltese, cares for the Maltese, and drives the Maltese to enjoy responsible entertainment. Helping to develop that more and more is what gets me out of bed every morning, and it’s something I know will propel us even further in the months and years to come,” the CEO concludes.
This interview is part of a serialisation of 50 interviews carried out with Malta’s top CEOs, featured in the bumper edition of MaltaCEOs 2021 publication, which was recently released. Despite the many challenges of 2020, this is the largest edition to date.
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