"This definition will effectively render illegal all operators who offer their services via a Malta Gaming Authority licence in other European states," says MGA chief
The online gambling licensing and regulatory jurisdiction Malta is fighting moves by the Council of Europe to introduce a new "place of consumption" definition of "illegal sports betting" which Malta Gaming Authority CEO Joseph Cuschieri says will adversely impact operators holding a Maltese licence.
Cuschieri explained to the local Independent newspaper:
"This definition will effectively render illegal all operators who offer their services via their Malta Gaming Authority licence in other European states."
The contentious definition is part of the Council's submission on the Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions, and reads:
"Illegal sports betting' means any sports betting activity whose type or operator is not allowed under the applicable law of the jurisdiction where the consumer is located."
Cuschieri pointed out that the online gambling sector now accounts for 11 percent of Malta's gross domestic product, employing 8,000 people, and the proposal is a threat to the economy of the Mediterranean island.
"While in accordance with the jurisprudence which has developed in the EU since 2008, a number of EU member states are restricting the provision of online gaming services within the EU and imposing national licences to offer gambling services within their territories." the chief regulator said.
"If the EU were to ratify the Convention of the Council of Europe, such a definition will have automatic EU applicability which effectively gives the 'stamp of approval' to the restrictions imposed by EU member states on the provision of cross-border services.
"This definition, taken with the enforcement measures which the Convention calls on the signatory states to take in respect of 'illegal betting operators', unfortunately prevents Malta from supporting the Convention, which, in general, has a very positive objective in line with its policy to force out match-fixing.
"Malta participated in negotiations and made various proposals for amendments to the Convention which unfortunately were ignored."
The Council of Europe is a 47-member European entity distinct from the EU and the EU Council of Ministers. The EU is seeking to ratify the Convention as an entire bloc, meaning consent is needed from each and every member state.
The Convention in its current form, if ratified, stands to seriously damage the Maltese online sports betting sector because bets using a gaming operator licensed in Malta for international operations will be automatically deemed as illegal in the country where the consumer is located.
A large number of online gaming companies are registered and operate in Malta, but a significant proportion of their client base comes from all over Europe who place their bets on non-Maltese sporting events.
Opponents of the controversial definition argue that the clause in question goes well beyond the scope and objectives of such conventions and that it has been inserted without the proper justification and attempts to regulate the industry rather than protect the integrity of sports competitions.
The Independent reports that Malta tabled a number of proposals for alternative definitions two years ago, however no compromise was reached — resulting in the vote against the adoption of the Convention during a meeting of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers held that year.
The implementation of the proposal has therefore been delayed by Malta's sole opposing vote.
Read the full history of the dispute here: http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2016-09-18/local-news/Online-gaming-Malta-stands-its-ground-against-the-rest-of-the-European-Union-6736163926
Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa