Enrico Bradamante spent most of his life travelling, driven by a childlike curiosity and intellectual interest in other cultures.
He is now settled in Malta, together with his wife and three daughters, because an interesting job offer intrigued him to relocate here eight years ago. It was a move that would see him embark on a thriving new career within the iGaming industry.
Born in Geneva, Enrico and his Italian family moved back to his hometown, Trieste, when he was six years old, and would continue to commute between countries for a decade. This is probably where his love for travel and moving around stems from. “I’ve been fortunate to travel from a young age. It’s a big part of my personality,” he reveals.
Enrico’s passion for sports and outdoor activities – which are essential for him to balance the stresses of business – also started earlier on in life. He has very much followed in his father’s footsteps to become a big sportsman, and his father remains someone Enrico speaks very fondly of.
In fact, the CEO explains how his family was supposed to go to Italy for Christmas to celebrate his parents’ 80th birthday. “But 2020 had other plans,” he says, expressing how much he misses them, and how this strange year has only heightened that sentiment.
Still, spending Christmas in Malta is not without its plus points, especially since Enrico now considers the island to be his home. “I love living here,” he says, adding that he doesn’t plan on moving. “If I look back on my career, I changed roles and jobs every four or five years prior to this. Today, though, my family and I are very settled here.”
Enrico’s career in iGaming started with NetEnt in 2012, when he was appointed Head Account Manager and Deputy Managing Director. He would work there for over five years, the last three as Managing Director. Following his stint at NetEnt he no longer wanted to execute corporate roles. “Being the full time CEO of a large organisation is an all-absorbing role, not only from a time perspective but from a mental one too. It took up the vast majority of my resources,” he says, explaining that he felt the need to diversify.
“I had never been an entrepreneur,” he continues, adding that this eagerness to go it alone pushed him toward a number of projects in 2018, including the start-up of Maverick Slots. “Maverick is a super exciting project: we have developed a very modern platform and optimised the game development process that makes creating games very quick and efficient. We hope to revolutionise the game,” he enthuses.
He shares that setting up his own company has helped him change perspective on what makes a career successful nowadays, and that it’s more satisfying to work in a small start-up where everyone is equal and everybody brings their competences, skills and abilities to the table. “It is providing me with a business diversity, a personnel diversity, and an intellectual diversity that I very much enjoy,” he states.
2018 also saw the inception of iGEN, a trade association aimed at giving a voice to the iGaming industry. “I feel that, because Malta is my home, I wanted the industry to have its say and make a positive difference in the environment we are working in,” he says.
Founding iGEN was then not just a way to put down roots on an island he loves, but also a way to safeguard an industry he is fully absorbed in. Thus, the set-up of iGEN came after the simple realisation that as an industry, iGaming represents 15 per cent of Malta’s GDP. And, while the companies within it were all very busy being successful, growing, and making money, no one was addressing the sectorial challenges that remained ‘lunchtime conversations’ with his peers.
iGEN became the place he could have meaningful conversations with all stakeholders about the common challenges gaming companies face, most famously the difficulties in setting up bank accounts and finding the right staff, to name but two.
On this last point, he elaborates, there are still some 700 open positions that are yet to be filled in the sector. This, in part, provided the motivation behind iGEN’s launch of whyiGaming.eu – an online resource on all things iGaming, including a showcase of job vacancies.
Since its launch in September 2020, Enrico says, whyiGaming.eu has become even bigger than Linkedin, already boasting some 350 vacancies within the sector. More than that, however, the aim of this portal is to evolve into a hub of communication between the industry and those interested in finding out more about it.
“iGaming is an entertainment industry that is extremely exciting. It’s a lot of fun to work in,” he continues, recalling how refreshing it was to be able to come to Malta to operate various successful businesses without taking himself too seriously.
But it’s not all fun and games. Other than being a pleasure to work in, Enrico defines the iGaming industry as ‘pandemic-resistant’. He states that, overall, operators and suppliers in Malta were not as affected by COVID-19 as other industries, adding that it actually had a positive impact on some of them.
The proof of how flexible the industry really is lies within the quick and seamless transition it made from office to remote working in 2020. This way of working will become the new norm for the iGaming industry, according to Enrico.
It also makes for an interesting change given that gaming companies are renowned for their beautiful and inspiring work environments, sometimes outdoing each other to offer better offices and benefits to their employees. “Think Google and Silicon Valley,” he says. Still, it’s all about balance, he continues. “Going forward, companies that will be successful in attracting and retaining staff post-COVID-19 are those that will find the right balance between working from an office and working remotely. Companies that can offer that flexibility will win.”
Overall then, with its intrinsic fun factor, good remuneration, and job security, it’s logical that the iGaming sector continues to attract people the world over. And with Malta being the hub in Europe for iGaming, Enrico only expects it to keep growing.
“I find it surprising, however, that the vast majority of the iGaming companies in Malta are foreign owned,” he states, explaining that while the Maltese have been very good at servicing the industry, they seem disinterested in capitalising on business opportunities.
He wonders if the reason behind this, along with the fact that most iGaming posts are filled by expats, is because Malta is a very Catholic country with a disdain towards what most perceive to be an unethical industry. “We are trying to close this gap, especially with whyiGaming.eu,” he says, hoping that more Maltese, including women, will take to it.
Enrico also has a vision of a more sustainable Malta, stating that, over the last eight years, the betting industry has changed the make-up of the island and the living environment they operate in has improved.
However, while praising various infrastructural projects that were carried out to facilitate moving around, Enrico also feels there is need to prioritise the environment. His suggestions include reduced use of private transport, increased use of electric scooters, and overall, a plan to make Malta greener.
Finally, to understand what’s in store for Enrico come 2021, one has to look at a broader picture of the entire industry, especially in light of Moneyval.
While he admits that a grey-listing for Malta might make it harder for betting companies to continue to operate here, he believes the outcome will be favourable and Malta will remain a white-listed jurisdiction. Maybe his optimism stems from iGEN having worked closely with the Government to make sure it fully understood all implications at the early stages. In the end, he’s unequivocal: “iGaming is here to stay,” he says.
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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