Remote gaming is a cornerstone of the Maltese economy, representing 12% of the Gross Domestic Product. Malta has consistently been on the front foot with applying legislation to help foster the industry and attract big companies to do business on the island.
Malta is widely considered a jurisdiction of excellence for the gaming industry, particularly for remote gaming. It is also a thought leader through regulation of blockchain technology which complements the remote gaming sector.
iGaming in Malta
The first online gaming site was set up in Malta in 2000 under an older law: The Operation of Betting Offices Regulations (S.L. 70.04), regulating offshore betting offices.
Malta was the first European Union Member State to regulate remote gaming back in April 2004 specifically. It issued The Remote Gaming Regulations (S.L. 438.04) shortly before joining the E.U. in May of that year.
In August 2018, the government of Malta did a major overhaul of the legislation. It replaced it with the Gaming Act (Chapter 583 of the Laws of Malta). As a result, all subsidiary legislation came into effect with its introduction.
The Malta Gaming Act
The new gaming regulations cover any type of gaming. Applied by the Malta Gaming Authority, these regulations are technology and game-neutral. The Gaming Act has introduced a horizontal approach to regulation.
Under the older laws, a multi-licensing system existed. Compliance contributions have replaced licence fees, and licence holders can now accept cryptocurrencies for bets and award prizes through the use of blockchain and distributed ledger technology.
The Act has also expanded the MGA’s supervisory and enforcement functions and capabilities, so it can perform better and meet its regulatory objectives. It introduced an administrative review process, which allows for appeal against disputed MGA decisions.
The Act also distinguishes between games of skill and games of chance. Skill games do not require a licence, whereas games of chance do.
Gambling licence holders are subject to the Prevention of Money Laundering and Funding of Terrorism Regulations (SL 373.01 of the Laws of Malta). They are responsible for compliance with anti-money laundering obligations. This includes, but is not limited to, due diligence procedures when there are single or multiple transactions of €2,000 or over.
Under the Act, the MGA forbids the issuance of credit against gaming activities, offering games to minors or other vulnerable persons, and including unfair terms for participants.
The MGA’s main powers
The MGA regulates, supervises, and reviews all practices, operations, and activities relating to the gaming sector. It also promotes the general interests of players. It consults with, informs, and guides the public.
The MGA ensures the fair and responsible advertisement of gaming services. It also takes over the following responsibilities:
- Receiving and investigating complaints by players and assisting and promoting timely, fair and competent dispute resolution;
- Advising the government on the formulation of policies connected with the gaming sector;
- Examining the suitability of any person engaged or employed in any gaming activity;
- Granting licences, approvals, recognitions or other authorisations;
- Ensuring high standards of conduct and management throughout the gaming sector;
- Preventing, detecting and ensuring the prosecution of any offence against gaming laws;
- General prohibitions and restrictions