The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has begun to reap ‘the fruits of the groundwork laid in 2021’, according to CEO Dr Carl Brincat, and intends to continue rolling out its data and technology strategy.
In its 2022 annual report, the regulator detailed operating revenue, including the release of unclaimed player funds of €82.2m (2021: €81.5m), an increase of just under 1%. This amounted to a ‘surplus’ of €70.2m (€69.6m), also a growth rate of just under 1%.
In his statement in the foreword to the report, Brincat asserted that ‘standing still is the same as moving backwards’ in betting and gaming, and so the MGA has introduced new business intelligence tools to inform decision making.
“These tools, coupled with the conclusion of a data strategy which will guide us over the next three years, are aligned with our commitment to base our regulatory decision-making on data and evidence,” he said.
In the report, the MGA outlined that the number of new casino players at its licensed operators increased substantially last year according to the firm’s report, rising by 56% from 75,262 in 2021 to 170,303, and the product dynamics of casinos also changed to an extent.
In 2021 there were 17 sports betting terminals in MGA-regulated casinos but this dropped to 12 in 2022, although the number of slot-type gaming devices rose from 887 to 897. This brought the overall number of gaming devices from 904 to 909.
Online gambling also saw some changes, with the number of B2C licensees falling slightly from 197 to 187, although the number of B2B firms rose in comparison from 155 to 160, with ‘type one’ licences covering online casino and lotteries the most dominant.
There were 155 of these licence holders in 2022 – 154 offering casino games, 26 lotteries and nine secondary lotteries – followed by 117 ‘type two’ licences, covering fixed-odds sports betting.
Lastly, 44 ‘type three’ licences – 30 for peer-to-peer betting and bingo, 12 for pool betting and betting exchanges, 10 ‘other’ peer-to-peer betting and three lottery messenger services – and 13 ‘type four’ licences for ‘controlled skilled games’ issued.
Meanwhile, the number of online active players accounts rose slightly by 2.5% from 35,459,498 to 36,388,607, catching up on 2020 account numbers of 36,196,001. Additionally, the number of new active player accounts rose 9% from 16,498,630 to 18,095,980.
Lastly, the regulator also issued an update on enforcement actions and investigations conducted during 2022, explaining 16 administrative penalties were issued throughout the year, amounting to total charges of €179,150.
These consisted of penalties imposed on MGA licensees and also on unauthorised entities which were offering licensable services without holding a licence. Four licences were suspended and six cancelled last year, and 10 warnings were also issued.
Brincat asserted in this forward statement that the MGA will continue to provide clarity on regulatory expectations to operators and bridge the gap between itself and the industry.
“We have also taken on the role of facilitating conversation on common challenges,” he said.
“The Authority has encouraged the industry to foster a cooperative relationship and a unified approach to common threats and challenges, which will lead to better solutions and ultimately support the sustainability of the sector.”
An additionaln update to Malta stakeholders was provided by MGA Chairman Ryan Pace, who emphasised how the authority has been working to cut down on bureaucracy and improve the regulator’s governance structure.
Pace asserted that the MGA’s internal processes need to be streamlined to reduce inefficiencies in order to achieve its remit of regulating and overseeing Malta’s gambling industry, which he noted is a ‘key industry’ within the island nation’s economy.
He remarked: “The work conducted in 2022, and the consequent results I have witnessed, allow me to confidently state that the Authority remains relevant, up-to-date and well-equipped to regulate, oversee and guide an innovative and ever-changing industry.”