The dates of this year’s Malta iGaming Seminar (MiGS) coincide with the much-anticipated Presidential election in the United States. While the campaign has often resembled a reality show, much of the world will be waiting anxiously to find out who will take over as the leader one of the world’s last remaining superpowers on the event’s first day. On the second day of MiGS, the results will be in. It’s inevitable that many of the conversations outside of the sessions themselves will be on the topic of the election’s results. Because the implications of the election will be felt worldwide, MiGS has secured an expert in global politics to present his thoughts on the outcome of the US election and how it may affect everything from the European Union economy to the politics of China.
In his career that has spanned over 30 years as an author, journalist, foreign correspondent and TV interviewer, John Andrews has become a preeminent expert in world politics. His most recent book, The World in Conflict: Understanding the World’s Troublespots, is particularly timely and examines present-day war and terrorism. As TV interviewer for the annual World Policy Conference, Andrews has interacted with famous figures from across politics, business and economics such as Jean-Claude Trichet, former governor of the European Central Bank; Prince Turki Al-Faisal, former head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency; Lionel Zinsou, prime minister of Benin; Alassane Ouattara, president of Côte d’Ivoire; Mario Monti, former prime minister of Italy; and Elisabeth Guigou, president of the foreign affairs commission of France’s Assemblée Nationale.
As The Economist’s most experienced foreign correspondent, Andrews enjoyed postings ranging from Singapore and Hong Kong, to Brussels, Paris, Los Angeles and Washington DC. With his impressive resume and experience, Andrews has often been asked to provide his penetrating analysis of current affairs, which will be his main task in the MiGS Keynote Address. A key point of his assessment will center on the causes and implications of the rise of populism around the world. “When you have popular disillusion, you get populism,” notes Andrews. “In the States you have not just this Trump factor, which I think is extraordinary, the way he got the Republican nomination, when you have these very strong candidates, but also the performance of Bernie Sanders. If you take America as a culture, to have a politician who stands and says ‘I’m a socialist’ and to make such a very strong running in the Democratic primary, that is pretty surprising and does show a popular disillusion with politics, the status quo and with politicians.”
The popular disillusionment was evident in the Brexit vote as well. “The eurozone crisis and the general dissatisfaction with the way the EU has performed has led to a widespread unhappiness throughout the EU. Opinions are far less positive than they used to be and in the case of Britain, I think this has led to this perverse decision to leave the EU. Those who voted to leave had various ideas about what that decision would mean after victory for Brexit and of course, many of them didn’t think they would win, it was just a protest. So you have this populism for no good reason other than to shake a fist at the establishment and the status quo.” And how this populism affects the economies of the world’s largest trading blocks like the United States and the EU is of major import to MiGS attendees.
Andrews wants the takeaways of the session to be pragmatic but also positive. “We really are at a pivotal moment in history,” says Andrews. “Attendees may come away slightly nervous, but I’d like to put a positive gloss on things as well. Life expectancy keeps rising and one reason is because of scientific advances. Those scientific advances will increasingly be able to deal with the ailments that accompany old age, in particular dementia, Alzheimers and other diseases of the brain, so something we can look forward to positively is scientific advance.” In the medium to long term, Andrews also sees positives with the ascendancy of the economic gravity of Asia. “At the moment, most Westerners tend to think of Asia’s growth as a threat to Western supremacy, but it’s actually a reversion to the way the world worked two centuries ago, before the western industrial revolution. At that time, Asia in general and China and India in particular made up half of the world’s GDP. We’re going to move back to that situation, which should be a positive thing in the end because if Asians are healthier and wealthier, that should be good for all of us in the world.”
If there is one thing the iGaming industry is good at, it’s adapting to change. The industry has weathered many political and economic upheavals and the US election and Brexit are just the latest challenges. As Andrews points out, “We are at a turning point. The Chinese would describe it as ‘interesting times’, which of course is a curse. But when you’ve got a challenge and when you can surmount it, you’re better off.” No matter who wins the US election, the MiGS Keynote Address will certainly be a lively discussion led by a professional political analyst with insights outside of the standard iGaming conference speaker and the session will be talked about far beyond the end of the event.