The approval of Malta’s new Gaming Act in Parliament earlier this month represents a long-awaited consolidation of our gaming legislative framework into a singular primary act. It is also a major milestone in terms of updating this framework to respond to the new realities and emerging trends in the industry. This applies not only to regulation, which through the new Act is being comprehensively broadened and strengthened, but also to the Malta Gaming Authority’s processes and procedures, which have now been simplified to eliminate unnecessary burdens without compromising regulatory objectives.
Statements made by the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Gaming, the Hon. Silvio Schembri, as well as by MGA’s Chief Executive Officer, Heathcliff Farrugia, clearly indicate that a key aim of this legislative overhaul was enhancing Malta’s jurisdictional profile through better and stronger regulation. This new Act will therefore strengthen the MGA’s supervisory role, positioning it to effectively meet its regulatory obligations, particularly in terms of anti-money laundering and combating the funding of terrorism. This is being achieved largely by strengthening the MGA’s compliance and enforcement functions and adopting a risk-based approach in this area, allowing the Authority to focus on areas which present a higher risk profile. This approach should decrease the regulatory burden for operators in lower-risk segments.
Beyond regulation, the new Act will simplify existing processes, not least by streamlining the current licensing system into just two types of licences: Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Customer (B2C) and, subject to certain terms and conditions, extending the licence term from 5 to 10 years. Other important areas of focus include better consumer protection standards, new responsible gaming measures, automatic reporting of suspicious sports betting transactions in the fight against the manipulation of sports competitions and objective-oriented standards to encourage innovation and development.
The enactment of the above-mentioned changes is still subject to the approval by the EU Commission, in line with the Technical Regulation Information System process. Provided that no issues arise from this process, it is anticipated that the new edition of the Gaming Act will enter into force on July 1, 2018, for remote operators and January 1, 2019, for land-based operators.