representative from the Malta Gaming Authority(MGA) told the Agimeg news outfit that the existing gaming laws were currently under review and the plan was to submit proposals to parliament this autumn that would “innovate and extend” the MGA’s powers.
The MGA spokesman said the review has been underway since 2013 and denied that the desire for change was prompted by Italy’s recent crackdown on gaming businesses allegedly controlled by the ‘Ndrangheta crime organization, including Malta-licensed online operators Betuniq and Betsolution4U Ltd.
The MGA, which is cooperating with the Italian authorities’ investigation, suspended these and other licenses associated with Italian firms, some of whom have threatened to sue the MGA for millions of euros in damages if the investigations don’t lead to criminal convictions.
Malta’s renewed focus on player protection would come as welcome news, given the criticism directed at the MGA’s predecessor over the 2012 closures of licensees Purple Lounge and Everleaf Gaming, both of which left players high and dry. The regulator has since undergone significant turnover in its executive ranks as well as a formal rebranding.
MALTA SEEKS OTHER AVENUES TO PROTECT SPORTS BETTING OPERATORS
Meanwhile, Malta has withdrawn its Request for Opinion on the Council of Europe’s definition of illegal sports betting. Malta submitted its request in July 2014 after the Council proposed redefining the legality of online sports bets on a point-of-consumption basis rather than the jurisdiction in which a betting operator is licensed.
The redefinition was part of the Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions, which aimed to enhance efforts to stamp out match-fixing. Malta supported the sentiment behind these efforts but believed the redefinition would have a negative effect on Malta-licensed online sports betting operators.
In withdrawing its request for opinion, Malta insisted it still had concerns regarding the Convention’s potential overreach. But theMalta independent reported that legislators have determined that ‘other solutions’ may be available and thus they consider it “more appropriate to try to achieve an acceptable state of affairs” through “discussions at the highest levels within the EU to safeguard this position.”