The Malta Independent 19 April 2019, Friday

Is betting immoral?

Alfred Sant Monday, 25 March 2019, 08:00 Last update: about 25 days ago

Internet gaming is clearly a prime economic sector in Malta. On its back, Malta has effectively become the Atlantic City of the Mediterranean. No matter how important this field of activity has been in the island’s economic growth, it could hardly have failed to raise doubts and reservations among a number of people – and I count myself as one of them.

Promoting gaming could become an exercise that generates anti-social habits among the population at large. Actually in the past fifteen years, while the “international” gaming sector expanded, so did gaming activity internally, within the island. Betting shops proliferated in practically all towns and villages, often situated quite close to churches. Even adverts on TV for football games have been taken over by betting enterprises.

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A long time ago the betting business used to be considered as almost immoral. Surely this no longer holds. Since gaming shops came on stream and up to now, I have heard no moralist complain about this development.  

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Muża

The arts musuem MUŻA which opened recently makes for a good display and a good experience. It has character, an elegant style that combines detachment with focus. It welcomes and intrigues.

The choice of art objects on show has been laid out with attention and wisely. There is a variety of themes that provide ideas to open up ways which enable visitors to appreciate the art that has been created in Malta, or the art that was brought here and has influenced or shaped our cultural environment.

Apparently the plan is to put up exhibitions over the year that shift from one theme to another. It is a good idea. It requires organizational perseverance, which is hardly one of our strengths as a country. But it is a good thing that such a target has been set for Muża.

I am less than convinced about one feature. The main staircase has been done in glass, and this is hardly commendable for those who like me, do not feel comfortable scaling heights. 

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Bank accounts

You find so many people telling you how much business is being created in the financial services sector. The government continually promotes the new areas of fintech and blockchain, which it sees as props for the future. In this, it finds the support of young entrepreneurs as well as others well versed in electronic communications.

Meanwhile though, I get to hear from financial sector professionals about the great and growing difficulties that arise when they try to open bank accounts for their clients. Banks either refuse straightaway to do so, or they create complicated procedures that seem designed to effectively make them decline opening new accounts.

Diverse reasons are invoked, ranging from a a fear that by accepting the new accounts a bank would open itself wide to money laundering practices, to a feeling that the business on offer would bring along new clients who would soon involve the bank in unacceptable risks. It is also true that banks are having to incorporate expanding control systems laid down by the EU. Unless they do so, they end up facing severe penalties.

Tension is increasing between the financial sector and banks which are supposed to be servicing its requirements.

 

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