The MGA in the News — Weekly Round-up for May 11, 2018

Maltese Parliament Approves New Gaming Act

Legislation strengthens Malta Gambling Authority’s supervisory role

The Maltese Parliament has approved the third and final reading of the new Malta Gaming Act.

The Act strengthens the Malta Gambling Authority’s (MGA) supervisory role, specifically compliance and enforcement functions to better achieve regulatory objectives and in line with concurrent developments in anti-money laundering and combating the funding of terrorism.

The new Act will segment the role of a Key Official within a licensed entity into various key functions for direct scrutiny and targeted supervision controls.

In addition the player protection framework will be supported by the formalisation of the MGA’s Player Support Unit which will act as a mediator between aggrieved players and operators.

More effective processes for criminal and administrative justice, consumer protection standards, responsible gambling measures, identification of suspicious sports betting transactions and objective-orientated standards to encourage innovation and development are all covered in the Act.

“The legislation is currently undergoing the Technical Regulation Information System process (TRIS) in line with European Union Directive 2015/1535, whereby the EU Commission and Member States may issue their opinions thereon,” the MGA said.

“In the absence of issues emerging from this process, it shall come into force on 1 July 2018 for remote gaming operators and, following a transitory period, on 1 January 2019 for land-based operators.”

The Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy & Innovation, Hon. Silvio Schembri said: “I would like to thank the MGA for moving the regulatory agenda for gaming services forward, as well as for identifying areas for further and continuous improvement.

“The MGA will periodically review the regulatory performance of the sector and the framework itself and will advise Government on the attainment of its objectives mainly focusing on consumer protection and integrity.“

The MGA’s Chief Executive Officer, Heathcliff Farrugia added: “This is a very important milestone for the MGA. The new law establishes very robust compliance and enforcement powers and structures, and lays the necessary foundation to continue to strengthen player protection.”

MGA Publish Industry Guidelines For GDPR

Address operator application concerns

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has published industry guidelines on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force on May 25, 2018.

The regulation aims to harmonise data protection regulation across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens’ data privacy and to reshape the way organisations across the region approach data privacy, the authority said, while acknowledging the industry’s concerns on the impact it will have to business.

To address those concerns, the MGA has compiled the guidance document after a consultation process with the Office of the Information and Data Protection Commissioner (IDPC), responsible for regulating the application of data protection legislation.

“It will remain the responsibility of MGA licensees to ensure they are compliant with the GDPR and with the gaming regulatory framework”, the MGA reminded. “They are to be read in parallel with legal requirements imposed on Operators by virtue of Maltese gaming laws, and are without prejudice to the said legislation.”

The MGA’s Guidelines on GDPR Compliance can be accessed here.

In related news, the MGA distanced itself from djarumsoccer.com, who it says is not a licensee and as such any reference to the MGA and/or gaming licence/s said to be issued by the Maltese Authority, as stated on its website, are both false and misleading.

PR Boost For Malta

IMF calls Malta’s performance in the i-gaming sector ‘exceptional’

Malta’s Independent newspaper reports that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) blog has given the Mediterranean island a PR boost, noting the creation of a services industry in which i-gaming licensing and regulation has delivered exceptional economic performance.

Nowhere else in the European Union does the i-gaming sector account for such a large part of the economy, the blog notes, observing that it contributes to the nation’s trade balance and job creation.

The blog notes that Malta has enjoyed something of an economic boom in recent years, boosting economic growth.

“Together with the expansion, the economy reoriented toward the services sector. That sector includes gaming firms: providers of gambling and betting services, done the traditional way at lottery counters and casinos, but more importantly online or on mobile devices,” the IMP blog outlines.

“In this sector, Malta’s advantage over the rest of the EU is staggering both in the relative size of the gaming industry (almost 12 percent of Malta’s total gross value added in 2016) and its recent expansion (the share in Malta’s gross value added grew by 9 percentage points between 2004 and 2014).”

The IMF noted that by 2016, gaming firms and other related business provided 4.4 percent of the full time jobs in Malta, with the island’s reputation as an English-speaking jurisdiction with a business-friendly tax regime and political stability enhancing its attraction.

“Malta keeps refining the sector’s regulations, and recently adopted new rules making online gaming firms fully subject to EU anti-money laundering requirements,” the blog concludes. “These include, among others, transparency in the ownership of companies, and cooperation among national financial intelligence units.”

Coming on the heels of the negative publicity following Italian police moves against organised crime which have mentioned Malta, the positivity of the IMF blog will probably be welcomed.