For Rootz, one of the standout success stories in Malta’s startup and iGaming environments, setting up in Malta was a “no-brainer”.

Most of the company’s vendors were already based, or had a presence in the country, and it also hosted an experienced iGaming workforce, which would be “essential” to fulfill its predictions of rapid early growth.

Speaking to as part of a series featuring some of Malta’s most promising startups, Rootz’s CEO Lasse Rantala discusses the company’s early days, its philosophy, and how it stays at the cutting edge of the iGaming industry.

Early years

Starting from the beginning, Mr Rantala explains that in the initial period after choosing to set up the company in Malta, he had had an “overall positive” experience in the environment.

“The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is a mature regulator and has the required expertise to advise where needed”, he reflected.

Though things “advanced smoothly” during the initial setup of the company, a slight drawback was that “occasionally, an agency would provide inconsistent or inaccurate information, but that is expected when creating something as complex as a new casino brand.”

Rootz was first formed in 2018 and received an MGA licence to operate in April 2019.

In the years that followed, the company would experience a meteoric rise, and its first casino brand Wildz was nominated for multiple awards at the SBC Awards 2019 event.

The pandemic hits

A virtual social event held between Rootz staff

A virtual social event held between Rootz staff. Image: Rootz/Facebook

When COVID struck in March 2020, it threw a wrench in the company’s operations, but it was decisive in its response.

“Rootz quickly shut down their offices in March 2020 when it was clear that COVID would become a significant public health crisis”, Mr Rantala reflects.

The company made “massive” equipment orders to ensure its staff had the tools, including monitors, office chairs and docking stations they needed to work unhindered.

As the pandemic kept offices closed, it maintained communication with a regular schedule of meetings via teleconferencing, which helped keep its projects moving.

Indeed, Rootz was far from stationary during the pandemic, opening two new casinos while staff were working from home and the CEO reflects that remote working was “undoubtedly beneficial” for some tasks.

For the moment, the company continues to encourage a hybrid working format, with a balance of remote and office working. This is out of a desire to keep in-office personnel to a manageable level while the Delta variant circulates, and the CEO also believes it provides a healthy balance for employees.

“We want to allow our employees to have an environment that suits them depending on what they might be doing on any given day”, he says.

Employee quality of life is clearly important to the company, and it has also kicked off a programme where employees can use up to three hours of their regularly scheduled work time to participate in sports and exercise.

“With 2020 restricting many activities, and most people indoors for longer stretches than they ever experienced before, we believe this initiative will help improve our physical and mental health.”

Dealing with a fast-moving regulatory market

COVID-related challenges aren’t the only ones facing Rootz.

The iGaming industry and the regulations governing it are frenetic, and companies must remain on their toes to keep up – especially those that are active in multiple regulatory environments.

For Rootz, the secret to doing so is “preparation and exceeding standards.”

The company anticipates and implements changes early on, and works hand-in-hand with its Compliance and Legal departments to develop an early plan on what changes need to be made.

Rootz staff celebrate having picked up four awards at this year

Rootz staff celebrate having won four awards at this year's Malta iGaming Excellence Awards. Image: Rootz/ Facebook

“Plenty of early testing helps us avoid any last-minute work, a situation that is conducive to errors”, Mr Rantala adds.

Aside from this, the company also says it adheres to the strictest standards, and that this is serving it well.

“If there is ever a grey area regarding a regulation, or we have reasonable suspicion that a regulator will implement a particular rule, we generally implement the change according to the strictest definition of the new law.”

This is based on the assumption that regulations are moving in one direction – becoming stricter and more robust.

“By assuming that the more rigid interpretations will come into effect, we protect ourselves from the ire of any regulator”, the CEO says.

A bullish outlook

Looking to the future, asked what his and the company’s outlook for the coming years is, Mr Rantala says they’re “bullish”.

Rootz is working on its fourth online casino brand, and after that plans to place an intensive focus on developing new markets and verticals.

“Everyone here is excited about what lies ahead in the coming months and years”, the CEO concluded.

This article is the first of a series featuring some of Malta’s leading start-ups. Check back next week for the second.

Main Image:

Rootz CEO Lasse Rantala

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Written By

Solomon Cefai

Solomon has an interest in financial markets and innovative business practices. He also loves literature and music. As such, you might find him on the seafront with a cold Kinnie, his trusty headphones, and a good book.