Flexing Regulatory Muscles: Malta Gaming Authority’s Recent Moves
The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has recently demonstrated its regulatory prowess – or so industry insiders suggest. These actions, as they say, might be more than just a show of strength; they could be a cosmetic gesture aimed at gaining support following the contentious new legislation passed by the parliament for the sector, which has now attracted the scrutiny of the European Commission.
Calls for Explanation by European Parliament and Commission
The European Commission and the European Parliament have requested further information from the government regarding a law that might be viewed as anticompetitive. Between August 2nd and 7th alone, the MGA revoked one license and suspended two others.
Striving for Credibility and Regulation
In the wake of the new legislation passed in June, which effectively shields Maltese betting companies from foreign claims, the MGA seems to have taken three regulatory steps in the first week of August. This comes after just six similar actions in the first seven months of the year (one license revocation in February, two in April, one in May, one in June after the controversial amendments to the Gambling Act, and one in July), according to industry sources.
Examining License Suspensions and Revocations in Detail
SFJL Holding Limited: Breaches of Gaming Rules
This month, the MGA suspended the licenses of SFJL Holding Limited due to violations of gambling regulations. SFJL failed to report changes within the company.
Green Feather: License Suspension over Financial Irregularities
The operator of several gambling websites, Green Feather, also lost its license. The main breaches were related to delayed submission of financial information. The MGA noted the absence of management reports and financial statements within the specified timeframe.
EGMIT Elite Limited: License Revocation and Consequences
On August 2nd, the MGA announced the revocation of the gaming license of EGMIT Elite Limited. The violations included repeated delayed submission of financial information, failure to pay due taxes and fees, and not adhering to commitments made to players. The MGA filed a police report and initiated liquidation proceedings against the company.
Background: European Commission and Maltese Government Action
European Commission’s Inquiries and Future Prospects
The European Commission is delving deeper into Malta’s new and supposedly improved Gambling Act, designed to shield iGaming companies based in Malta from litigation in other EU member states. A recent parliamentary question by German MEP Sabine Verheyen prompted the Commission to explain that it’s assessing the compatibility of the draft bill with EU law and has requested additional information from Maltese authorities.
Outlook and Consequences: License Trends and Developments
The Malta Gaming Authority issued 75% fewer new gambling licenses in 2022 compared to its peak year in 2018, as statistics reveal. The analysis conducted by Shift Magazine disclosed that in 2021, the year when Malta was grey-listed by the Financial Action Task Force, new license registrations were cut in half compared to the previous year.
Controversy over Legal Changes and Future Outlook
Last month, news emerged about Austrian and German lawyers representing clients against Malta-licensed online gaming companies. These companies were allegedly providing their services illegally in Austria and Germany. They sent a letter to the European Commission criticizing the amendments to Malta’s Gambling Act.
The Change: The Implications of Law No. 55
The amendment to the Gambling Act, known as Law No. 55, aims to “codify in law the longstanding public policy of Malta encouraging the establishment of gaming operators in Malta.”
Conclusion: A Regulation Chess Game
As the Malta Gaming Authority takes the center stage with its recent regulatory moves, the industry watches the developments with keen interest. Amid a shifting legal landscape, the MGA’s actions speak volumes about its commitment to upholding industry standards and adapting to evolving challenges. The European Commission’s investigations and the far-reaching effects of the Gambling Act amendments mark a turning point in the world of online gaming. The regulatory chess game continues, and every move shapes the industry’s future.
Why has the Malta Gaming Authority recently intensified its regulatory measures?
The increase in regulatory measures by the Malta Gaming Authority is a response to new legislation and requests from the European Commission. The aim is to enhance credibility and adapt to a changing regulatory landscape.
What were the main reasons for license suspensions and revocations?
Licenses were suspended or revoked due to various violations, including delayed submission of financial information, non-payment of taxes, and failure to comply with obligations. The Malta Gaming Authority emphasizes transparency and accountability in the industry.
How is the European Commission responding to Malta’s new Gambling Act?
The European Commission is evaluating the compatibility of the new Maltese legislation with EU law. It has requested additional information from Maltese authorities and will decide its next steps based on the feedback received.
How has the trend of license issuance by the Malta Gaming Authority changed in recent years?
The number of new gambling licenses issued by the Malta Gaming Authority has significantly decreased. In 2022, the decline compared to the record year of 2018 was 75%. This trend reflects adjustments in the industry and regulatory changes.
What are the implications of the Gambling Act amendments on legal proceedings?
The Gambling Act amendments aim to protect Maltese licensee companies and their representatives from legal actions related to online gaming. This raises questions about how cross-border legal disputes will be handled in the industry.