Joseph Borg – WH Partners – Betting on Esports

Joseph F Borg
Joseph Borg, WH Partners

Joseph Borg is a senior advisor at WH Partners a leading law firm based in Malta with a wide range of experience across a multitude of industry facets. Borg is set to join the Betting on Esports panel focused on legal issues in the burgeoning esports space, with a specific focus on issues at the intersection of esports and gambling. 

He will be joined on a panel by Anna Baumann, Jonny Madill of Sheridans and Quirino Mancini of SCM Lawyers. The panel will be moderated by Michele Magro of the Malta Gaming Authority. 

ESI: Why did you decide to speak at Betting on Esports 2017? 

Joseph: I have been involved in the Gaming industry for the past 12 years plus, first as a regulator and now as a consultant. Over the past twelve months I have been following the rise of esports betting and the of the esports industry as a whole. I believe there is enormous potential for growth and we are still at the early stages and that the growth we will see in this area over the next few years is substantial.

ESI: With WH Partners being based out in Malta, how have you seen the legal landscape develop with regards to esports? How do you see it developing in the future?

Joseph: Malta is already the largest hub for online gaming in Europe. Therefore, from a betting on esports point of view, Malta is a natural destination for whoever wishes to set up a sportsbook on esports. Furthermore, with the new gaming law framework being proposed, the prospects are extremely positive, especially since the new law is open to new business models and innovative technologies. We also hope that under the new framework, that should be in place by Q2 of 2018, crypto-assets will be approved payment methods.

ESI: Do you see malpractice with regards to player contracts and shady organisations presenting challenges in the future or will it subside?

Joseph: This has happened throughout every sports practice over the years. However, as the industry matures, these situation will become more rare. Players need to protect themselves by seeking legal advice and engaging the right agents. Yet, the ultimate solution is the creation of governing bodies that will ultimately serve to oversee the development of the sports. It is important that such governing bodies are as democratic as possible in order to avoid pitfalls that other sports organisations have fell into. Blockchain technology could be the solution for this and many other issues that may arise as the industry grows.

ESI: Valve issued a few cease and desist orders just over a year ago to “clamp down” on skin betting. Do you think the illegal skin betting industry still poses a major challenge? 

Joseph: Valve has every right to enforce its terms and conditions as long as they are in line with applicable laws. On the other hand, I see skins as digital property of the user and the user should be free to make use of this digital property as he or she wishes. The question is whether the skins purchased from Valve are digital property of the end-user once purchased or whether Valve is simply providing the end-user with a licence to use such skins. 

ESI: What can attendees look forward to hearing you discuss on the legal panel?

Joseph: Mainly about new Maltese gaming regulatory framework and how it will affect betting on esports. I also look forward to discussing the efforts by the government and local organisations to attract esports industry towards Malta.

Betting on Esports 2017 is taking place at the Olympia in London over September 13-15. It’ll have six esports panels with over 25 speakers and a dedicated esports exhibition zone. It’s a part of #boscon2017 which’ll have over 1,000 delegates in attendance.

Find out more about it here