The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) published Thursday its annual report and audited financial statements for the financial year ending 31 December 2021. The report shows the regulator canceled fewer licenses during 2021, as it opted instead to issue more warnings and administrative penalties than in previous years.
The report provides an overview of the Authority’s achievements during the year and outlines the performance of the Maltese gaming industry during 2021, coupled with a medium-term outlook into the future. For the period analyzed, the MGA canceled seven licenses, half the 14 terminated in 2019, and less than 12 in 2020.
Carl Brincat, MGA's CEO, said: "As an organization, beyond continuing to ensure that we meet our day-to-day objectives, we used 2021 to start laying the groundwork for improvements that we will see in the months and years to come."
"It is a priority for us to move towards leaner and more efficient processes, to remove unnecessary bureaucracy which introduces burdens on the industry without providing added value, and to become more effective in achieving our regulatory priorities," he added.
Changes in the regulator's approach also led to a decrease in suspensions. While the Authority suspended 11 licenses in 2019 and 3 in 2020, it did not suspend a single one last year, opting instead for more warnings and administrative penalties. During 2021, the MGA issued 31 penalties, up from 24 in 2019 and 28 in 2020.
Carl Brincat, MGA's CEO
Among highlights for the year the regulator mentioned are 54 on-site compliance audits and 230 desktop reviews, accounting for 65.5% coverage of the licensees base during 2021. The Authority issued 64 warnings and canceled seven licenses, issued a total of 31 administrative penalties, and three regulatory settlements, with a collective total financial penalty of €176,016.
The Commercial Communication Committee of the MGA issued a total of 21 letters of Breach, of which 13 operators were found to be in breach of the Commercial Communications Regulations. The regulator also investigated 79 cases of websites having misleading references to the Authority, and published a total of 61 notices on its website with the aim to prevent the public from falling victim to such scams.
With the intent to improve its efficiency and effectiveness, the Authority has reviewed the Gaming Licence Application Process as well as launched the Personal Portfolio. Improvements have been made in the way non-compliance matters are notified to the relevant licensee, and how operators are directed to rectify their position.
The regulator also published amendments to some of its guidances and articles of its directives. Additionally, the Authority established a dedicated Business Transformation team, tasked with assisting each of the MGA’s directorates to continuously re-assess and improve processes, to increase efficiency and reduce administrative burdens on the MGA and industry alike.
Eyeing national and international cooperation, a new alerting process was introduced vis-à-vis the sharing of knowledge on suspicious events that are reported to the whole industry without revealing the source of the information. Since its introduction, during the last quarter of 2021, a total of 72 alerts were sent to the industry, which resulted in a total of 20 new suspicious betting reports received.
During the period under review, the Authority was a direct participant in 20 different investigations across the globe relating to the manipulation of sports competitions or breaches in sports rules, as well as an indirect participant in 29 such investigations; and received a total of 89 international cooperation requests from other regulators.