Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) CEO Carl Brincat has decided not to renew his contract, which expires on 25 January 2024.

The regulator said a public call will be issued in the coming days to find a successor. 

Brincat joined the MGA in September 2014 as a legal advisor.

Over the course of nine years, he assumed various roles within the regulatory body, eventually taking on the position of CEO in January 2021.

He succeeded Heathcliff Farrugia, who left the MGA following allegations of leaking confidential and commercially sensitive information held by the authority.

Before assuming the role of CEO, he worked as the chief legal and enforcement officer from October 2019 to January 2021.

“Leaving the MGA is a very hard decision to make,” Brincat said.

“The past nine years have been a rollercoaster of experiences which contributed to the person I am today, and it has been a privilege to lead the Authority for the past three years. 

“Looking back, I am proud of the work that we have done together, and of the highly motivated team that surrounds me at the Authority,” he added.

Meanwhile, the MGA board highlighted Brincat’s “exceptional leadership” during his tenure as CEO. 

Chairperson Dr Ryan C. Pace said: “Carl has made extensive contributions to the Malta Gaming Authority and to the gaming industry in Malta and we are confident in, and very thankful for, the strong foundation he leaves behind as we continue to pursue the MGA’s strategic goals.” 

The MGA said Brincat’s successor will be expected to spend a number of weeks shadowing Brincat to ensure a smooth handover before commencing his or her term on 26 January 2024.

Betfred Group chief operating officer (COO) Mark Stebbings is set to stand down from the role later this week.

Resignation confirmed

In a post shared on LinkedIn, Stebbings confirmed that he will officially leave the position on 29 September.

“After nearly 30 years I have decided that it is the right time for me to leave Betfred,” Stebbings said. “I am immensely proud to have been part of an incredible growth story.

“I must give special thanks to [Betfred founder] Fred Done who has been an unbelievable mentor to me and for the belief and faith he put in me as I made my way through the ranks from a trainee betting shop manager to group chief operating officer.”

Stebbings added that his last week in the job will be “emotional”, as he prepares to bid farewell to “so many great people who I have worked with for a number of years.”

“I’m sure Betfred will continue to grow and I wish Fred and his team continued success,” he concluded.

Stebbings will now take a short break to spend some time with his family before deciding on his next steps, per his LinkedIn post.

Well wishers

Industry stakeholders were quick to wish him well in the post’s comments.

Avenue H principal Benjie Cherniak said: “You leave behind quite the legacy Mark. Enjoy the time off – it is well deserved. Look forward to seeing what you get up to next.”

Stephen Crystal, who worked with Stebbings on Betfred’s entry into the US, said: “Where others dropped out, we soldiered onward!” while wishing him the best for his future plans.

Dozens of other commenters took the opportunity to wish Stebbings well in the future.

Management changes at Betfred

Betfred is now likely to be searching for a replacement for Stebbings in the group COO role, but the company has not yet made a public statement on the matter.

Last week, COO of Betfred USA Bryan Bennett also announced his departure from the company on LinkedIn.

He described his tenure with the operator as “one of the most exciting, fun, rewarding, challenging, frustrating, and exhausting experiences of my career… sometimes all in the same day. 

“But it was never boring,” he added.

Earlier this month, former Hard Rock International SVP Kresimir Spajic was appointed as CEO of Betfred USA.

Betfred’s online operations are currently live in seven US states; Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland.

In addition, the business operates retail sportsbooks in Louisiana, Nevada and Washington.

Just one member of Lottery.com’s board of directors remains after the business agreed a deal to receive a $2.5m convertible loan in exchange for the resignation of all other board members.

On 6 September, the ailing Lottery.com entered into a term sheet with Woodford Eurasia Assets Ltd, which provided for a $2.5m convertible loan to be funded within five working days, contingent upon the fulfilment of conditions including the resignation of four of the firm’s five directors.

The term sheet also required the appointment of two new board members – to be selected by Woodford – and of a new interim CEO.

The deal also “contemplates” a further $50m in expansion capital via an additional convertible loan or other investment instrument, subject to an agreement between the parties on terms and other customary conditions.

Under the new terms, only Richard Kivel – a venture capitalist and managing director of European venture fund GreyBella Capital – remains on the board, where he now presides as chairman.

Woodford will now appoint two new directors to the board, which will subsequently appoint a new interim CEO and chair of the audit committee.

As a result of the board’s overhaul, Lottery.com is not currently in compliance with Nasdaq listing rules which require a majority of the board to be composed of independent directors, and stipulate that its audit committee must consist of at least three independent directors.

The directors who have resigned from the board are Steven Cohen (former co-chair), Lisa Borders, William Thompson and former CEO Tony DiMatteo.

Former Lottery.com directors Lisa Borders & William Thompson: “My efforts to perform as a fiduciary in evaluating opportunities for the company’s return to normal operation have been consistently obstructed by opaque and contrived processes, singular relationships, and a dysfunctional board environment.”

In addition to those resignations, chief legal and operating officer Kathryn Lever tendered her resignation on 5 September.

In letters of resignation submitted to the SEC, outgoing board members explained that after having received the financing proposal from Woodford, questions raised around lender suitability and source of funds were dismissed by the desperate business.

After requesting additional time to review and research the proposed lender, both Borders and Thompson were absent from a board meeting held on the matter, which they insisted was in contravention of the requirements of corporate by-laws.

At the meeting, adjustments to the original proposal put forward by Woodford were agreed and subsequently voted upon with a view to securing a favourable deal for the business.

As a result of Borders’ and Thompson’s absence in the meeting, however, Cohen said in his resignation letter that he abstained from the vote, meaning that only former CEO DiMatteo and current chairman Kivel could have voted in favour of the proposal.

The published resignation letters paint a bleak picture of the situation inside Lottery.com.

Both Thompson and Borders commented separately that: “My efforts to perform as a fiduciary in evaluating opportunities for the company’s return to normal operation have been consistently obstructed by opaque and contrived processes, singular relationships, and a dysfunctional board environment.”

Former Lottery.com co-chair Steven Cohen: “This is only the most recent example of a breakdown in the ability of members of this board to function as a group and only the most recent example of certain directors’ being unwilling to deliberate and confer in an open and reasoned manner.”

In his resignation letter, Cohen referred to the previously mentioned meeting as “needlessly rancorous”, and expressed concern about “the acrimony surrounding efforts to hold a meaningful discussion.”

Damningly, he added: “This is only the most recent example of a breakdown in the ability of members of this board to function as a group and only the most recent example of certain directors’ being unwilling to deliberate and confer in an open and reasoned manner. 

“Such a breakdown and such an unwillingness to seek consensus in a thoughtful manner does not serve the interests of the shareholders,” Cohen concluded.

Little is known about Woodford Eurasia Assets Ltd.

A company under that name is listed on Companies House in the UK, which describes its nature of business as “support activities for petroleum and natural gas extraction,” as well as involvement in the sale of fuels, ores and metals, activities of construction holding companies and activities of financial services holding companies.

The business is registered at 10 Foster Lane in London, where more than 100 separate businesses – many with net assets in the millions of pounds – have an address.

At present, Woodford lists just one director, Italian national Alex Smotlak, who has a total of 24 appointments listed with Companies House.

A list of former directors of the business includes Paul Mills, managing partner of banking and financial service provider BPA London, and Philip John Clancy, who is also listed as a director of APR Oilfield Services and Geoprep Limited.

Those directors resigned from Woodford in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

The only other former director listed for Woodford is Russian national Sergei Muravev, who resigned from the role on 31 March 2022. No other appointments are listed for Muravev on Companies House.

Vegas-based gambling supplier Light & Wonder is on the hunt for a new chief executive after president and CEO Barry Cottle stepped down.

Matt Wilson, executive vice president and group chief exec of gaming, has been appointed interim CEO in a dual capacity with his current role.

While Cottle will support a transition as a consultant, Light & Wonder has commenced a search process to identify a permanent CEO and has engaged an unnamed US executive search firm to run the rule over both internal and external candidates.

Wilson is a seasoned executive with nearly 20 years of gaming industry experience. In his current role, he led the strategic growth plans for the gaming team while overseeing product development, production, supply chain and sales of the company’s gaming products, systems and services.

Prior to joining Light & Wonder, he served as president and managing director of the Americas at Aristocrat. During his tenure with Aristocrat, he also served as senior vice president of global gaming operations, and senior vice president of sales and marketing, Americas.

Light & Wonder executive chair Jamie Odell: “As we enter the next chapter of our growth journey as the leading cross-platform global game company, we are confident that now is the right time to make this leadership transition.”

“As we enter the next chapter of our growth journey as the leading cross-platform global game company, we are confident that now is the right time to make this leadership transition,” said Jamie Odell, executive chair of Light & Wonder.

“Our executive vice chair, Toni Korsanos, and I have worked closely with Matt for over 10 years, including most recently as he has successfully worked to turn around and reposition Light & Wonder’s gaming business for long-term growth.

“We are confident that his strategic insights, deep industry knowledge, rich experience and impressive track record make him the ideal person to serve as interim CEO during this transition period,” he added.

Commenting on his appointment, Wilson said: “With a streamlined organisation, sharpened strategic focus and strengthened balance sheet, we are now better positioned than ever to capitalise on the incredible opportunities ahead for the business.”

“I look forward to working closely with the rest of the leadership team in this new capacity as we continue to accelerate our progress as a sustainable growth company,” he added.

In March, Scientific Games rebranded as Light & Wonder as part of a move to focus exclusively on iGaming.

In Q2, the company managed to transform its balance sheet and reduce net debt while completing the sale of its lottery division to Brookfield Business Partners.

In addition, Light & Wonder has struck a deal to sell its sports betting business to US media conglomerate Endeavor, under an amended agreement with total gross proceeds of $800m. The transaction is expected to close by end of Q3 2022.