Newly released Annual Report

Malta gaming regulator revoked six gambling licenses, issued fewer warnings and penalties in 2022

MGA CEO Carl Brincat
Reading time 2:56 min

The Malta Gaming Authority issued 10 warnings and canceled six gambling licenses in 2022, according to the regulator’s latest Annual Report. In addition, the MGA issued a total of 16 administrative penalties as well as three regulatory settlements, with a collective total financial penalty of €179,150 ($191,907).

The report shows the regulator canceled fewer licenses than in 2021, a year in which the Authority terminated seven permits. What’s more, the six revoked licenses in 2022 are also a far cry from 14 in pre-pandemic 2019, showing a decreasing trend. Penalties were also down from 31 in 2021, and warnings saw a massive drop from 64 in 2021 to just 10 last year.

The regulatory actions undertaken last year followed a total of 28 compliance audits and 228 desktop reviews carried out in 2022, accompanied by additional AML/CFT compliance examinations carried out by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU), or by the MGA on its behalf.

Over the course of the past year, six individuals and companies were deemed by the Fit & Proper Committee to not be up to the Authority’s probity standards due to various factors, including risks of money laundering or funding terrorism.

The report also shows a total of 25 licensees were subject to remediation and/or administrative measures by the FIAU, ranging from written reprimands to administrative penalties, based on the breaches identified during examinations carried out in previous years, including by the MGA. In total, these amounted to just over €738,000 ($790,336).

Furthermore, over 1,500 criminal probity screening checks were undertaken on individuals, shareholders and ultimate beneficial owners, key persons and other employees, and companies from both the land-based and online gaming sectors.

Safe gambling and new licensees

In 2022, 41 gaming license applications were received. A total of 31 licenses were issued while 21 were unsuccessful. But in addition to welcoming new licensees, MGA’s 2022 was also marked by expanded efforts to protect players and encourage responsible gambling.

Over the last year, the Authority supported a total of 5,280 players who requested assistance, covering most of the cases received during 2022 and the spillover from 2021. The MGA also conducted 85 responsible gaming-themed website checks, through which 38 URLs were found to have misleading information. 

The checks led to 17 notices being published on the MGA website, and 30 observation letters that were sent out reflecting responsible gaming issues, notes the gambling watchdog.

MGA addresses industry’s challenges

In 2022, the Authority commissioned a sectorial skills strategy to address the sector’s challenges with respect to the ongoing demand for qualified and skilled human capital, which the regulators note increased “significantly” as the economy grew and diversified into numerous sectors.

As part of this strategy, consultation exercises were conducted with industry stakeholders regarding the bets offered by licensees, with a focus on sports integrity and safe gambling considerations. These consultations came as the MGA proposed rules on the acceptance of Virtual Tokens and NFTs in the industry, ultimately leading to a finalized policy, and as the regulator sought to update player protection rules.

Furthermore, the Authority streamlined the approval process of appointing a Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO) in collaboration with the FIAU while, at the same time, ensuring that the industry “is kept updated on any changes affecting this process and on any best practices that are intrinsic to the role of the MLRO.”

Lastly, the MGA kickstarted a process for possibly implementing a voluntary Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Code of Good Practice for the industry “to showcase and increase the positive social and environmental impacts of the gambling sector.”

Along with the report, MGA CEO Carl Brincat issued a statement: “This report is testament to our collective efforts in promoting a fair and sustainable gaming ecosystem. Through proactive measures and leaner regulation processes, we strive to ensure a level playing field that nurtures innovation while safeguarding against any potential risks.”

As the global gaming landscape evolves, our role becomes even more critical. We embrace this responsibility with utmost determination, working tirelessly to stay ahead of emerging trends, technologies, and challenges. We remain steadfast in our pursuit of robust frameworks that inspire confidence, protect vulnerable individuals and render Malta the home for gaming operators of goodwill.”

Access MGA's full annual report here.

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