MGA Safeguarding Bill 55

MGA Safeguarding Bill 55

In a steadfast move, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), the regulatory force behind Malta’s gaming landscape, has unwaveringly upheld the contested legislation, Bill 55. This legislative piece, endorsed into law by Maltese President George Vella in June of this year, has found itself under intense scrutiny, with critics suggesting that its alignment with European law is tenuous at best.

Defending Bill 55: An Act in Harmony with European Law

The MGA has taken a robust stance in defense of Bill 55, also known as Article 56A of Malta’s Gaming Act. Contrary to the criticism that has been levied, the MGA asserts that the legislation does not transgress European law but instead provides a shield for operators licensed in Malta from legal liability arising from their gambling activities, provided they operate within the ambit of their MGA license.

However, the MGA’s pronouncement comes in the wake of the Gemeinsamen Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL), Germany’s authority overseeing gambling regulations, raising concerns that the now-law Bill 55 contradicts the Recast Brussels Regulation. This 2013 European statute delineates jurisdiction, recognition, and enforcement of legal judgments among European Union member states. To disprove this assertion, the MGA highlights a provision within a 2013 European law that enables a member state to dismiss recognition of a legal judgment if it diverges from the principles entrenched in its legal framework. Further, the Malta Gaming Authority underscores that the original intent of the law was not to introduce fresh exceptions to existing regulations but rather to cement Malta’s longstanding public policy regarding the gaming sector.

The MGA also underscores that the scope of Bill 55 remains stringent, delineating specific conditions under which a Malta-licensed gambling operator can be insulated from legal action. This safeguard is contingent on the legality of the operator’s gambling activities under the national Gaming Act. Moreover, the legal action must not only conflict with the gaming framework of Malta but also subvert its legality for the protective measures of Bill 55 to take effect.

Navigating the Juridical Landscape of Malta's Gaming Laws

In light of the discussions surrounding the legality of its gambling regulations, the MGA asserts that its laws adhere to the parameters of the European free movement of services. It posits that the Maltese gaming framework seamlessly aligns with EU law, rooted in the privileges extended to entities operating within the internal market.

However, critics, including various European governments and regulators, draw attention to the European Commission’s 2017 decision to terminate infringement proceedings and grievances within the gambling sector. According to these critics, this decision implicitly conveys that gambling services cannot be considered within the scope of services that can be broadcast across Europe under an MGA license.

European Commission's Scrutiny and Potential Judicial Scrutiny

The much-debated Bill 55 has faced reproach from various quarters for its perceived transgressions against European law. Consequently, the European Commission announced its intention in July of this year to meticulously examine the said legislation to ascertain whether any breaches of EU law exist. In pursuit of this objective, the Commission has sought additional information from the Maltese authorities.

However, once this assessment concludes, it is conceivable that the matter could be escalated to the European Court of Justice. This highest authority has historically adjudicated litigations concerning conflicts between domestic and European law, rendering it the ultimate arbiter in these circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Bill 55 contrary to European law?
No, according to the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), Bill 55, also known as Article 56A of Malta’s Gaming Act, is not in violation of European law. The MGA contends that the bill safeguards Malta-licensed operators from legal liability within the bounds of their MGA licenses.

What is the Recast Brussels Regulation?
The Recast Brussels Regulation is a 2013 European law that governs the jurisdiction, recognition, and enforcement of legal judgments among EU member states. It has been cited in discussions regarding Bill 55’s compatibility with European law.

How does Bill 55 protect gambling operators?
Bill 55 offers protection to Malta-licensed gambling operators by shielding them from legal action related to their gambling activities, provided these activities align with the country’s Gaming Act and do not undermine the legal framework for gaming in Malta.

Why is the European Commission scrutinizing Bill 55?
The European Commission has decided to scrutinize Bill 55 to ensure that it doesn’t breach EU law. There have been concerns raised by various parties that the legislation might contradict European legal principles.

What is the potential outcome of the European Commission’s scrutiny?
After the European Commission’s assessment, if concerns persist regarding Bill 55’s compliance with EU law, the case might be referred to the European Court of Justice. This court holds authority over conflicts between domestic and European law, making it the final decision-maker in such matters.


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