The Maltese government started to enforce the country’s new Gaming Act of 2018—which would unite several gambling regulatory laws into one—on August 1.
Online casino players could witness some changes in their favorite Malta-based gambling hubs. Since August 1, 2018, the new Gaming Act of 2018 took effect on Malta’s remote gaming operators, weeks after the country’s parliament passed the third and final reading of the new gaming regulations on May 9 of the same year.
New Rules in Effect
According to the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), the new Act would “elevate the jurisdictional profile of Malta from a regulatory perspective” by reinforcing MGA’s supervisory powers, including rules concerning anti-money laundering and combating the funding of terrorism (AML/CFT) efforts. In addition, the Act covers rules related to dubious sports betting transactions and match-fixing.
The Gaming Act provided rules protecting the vulnerable from gambling. For one, the Act strictly prohibits operators from offering, enticing, or inducing a minor—anyone below the age of 18—into participating in any form of betting service.
In addition, the appointed minister for the gaming sector would establish parameters and conditions for safeguarding at-risk and problem gamblers from further harm.
Moreover, the Gaming Act places full responsibility of protecting player funds to the gambling operators and third parties involved following Malta’s Player Protection Regulations of 2018 and other applicable laws.
Silvio Schembri, parliamentary secretary for the Financial Services, Digital Economy, & Innovation, 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.”
Operators failing to adhere to these and other provisions of the Act could be fined as much as €1 million, up to six years’ imprisonment, or both. Likewise, the Act declares devices, machines, and money used or will be used to commit offenses would be forfeited in favor of the MGA.
Slight Delay on Enforcement
The new Gaming Act would overhaul the legal framework relating to gambling. Moreover, the act will replace and unite the existing Lotteries and Other Games Act, the Remote Gaming Regulations of 2014, and the Skill Games Regulations of 2016.
Heathcliff Farrugia, MGA’s CEO, said:
“Today marks one of the most important in the history of the MGA. Years of hard work finally come to fruition. I would like to thank all those involved in making the new regulatory framework a reality, in particular my predecessor [Mr.] Joseph Cuschieri for the foresight to initiate this project. Parliamentary Secretary… Schembri and the Maltese Government at large for their ongoing support and commitment, and especially the MGA’s personnel for their relentless work in developing and implementing the new legal regime.”
Sec. Schembri stated in March:
“The Government wants to ensure that the gaming industry continues to be run responsibly, fairly and free from criminal activity, so that the Maltese jurisdiction provides a safe and well regulated environment where the industry can also develop and innovate.”
Before member states could enforce a new information services-related law, it must first go through the Technical Regulation Information System process in accordance to the Directive of the European Union (EU) 2015/1535 “laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical regulations and of rules on Information Society services.”
Following European Union-mandated laws pushed the originally scheduled enforcement of the Gambling Act on remote casinos from July 16 to more than two weeks later, the Act will cover land-based casinos starting January 2019.
Meanwhile, game developer Stakelogic is setting up an office in Malta in order to reach the markets in the Mediterranean island nation, as well as those in Sweden, Denmark, the United Kingdom and further afield.