The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) revealed that during 2019, it suspended 11 licences, and cancelled a further 14 ‘following various regulatory breaches’.
Publishing its Annual Report and Financial Statements for the financial year ending 31 December 2019, the MGA confirmed that it had issued 20 warnings, 89 notices of breach and 23 administrative fines during the year as the regulator continues to crack down on non-compliance.
Heathcliff Farrugia, Chief Executive Officer of the Malta Gaming Authority, stated that: “Overall, 2019 was a very challenging but at the same time a rewarding year for the MGA. The increased focus on compliance and enforcement which was prevalent throughout the year has yielded tangible results for the Authority.
“This focus led to internal restructuring for the better achievement of the MGA’s objectives, and was also pivotal in the Authority’s drive towards the setting up of the Sports Integrity Unit, tasked with increasing the commitment towards the fight against the manipulation of sports competitions.
“In its first months, this unit has already signed important collaboration agreements with international sport bodies in order to tackle betting-related corruption and ensure the integrity of sports.
“Such collaboration, both at a local and international level was high on the agenda in 2019, and will continue being crucial in 2020, as a key determining factor in the ongoing fight against crime, corruption and money laundering.”
During 2019, 89 applications for a gaming licence were submitted, of which 44 were rejected or withdrawn, while 53 licences were issued during the period under review which included licences where the application had been received during the previous year.
As part of its regulatory mandate for 2019 and 2020, the MGA has previously underlined that it will undertake a tougher regulatory approach with regards to operator integrity, behaviour and compliance practices.
Farrugia added: “Sports integrity was not the only area with a strong focus on increasing collaboration with other stakeholders. In line with its objective to keep gaming free from crime, the Malta Gaming Authority strengthened its already good relationship with the Malta Police Force, through the signing of a formal Memorandum of Understanding aimed at improving the efficacy of their cooperation and exchange of information.
“Through this, the Authority and the Malta Police Force consolidated their collaboration in investigating and punishing illegal gaming activities, ensuring that they work hand in hand and use both entities’ resources in the most effective manner to achieve this objective.
“For the same purpose, the Authority also revised its Memorandum of Understanding with the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, with a view to consolidating the joint supervisory role it has when conducting inspections of obliged entities and vetting individuals subject to the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive.
“International collaboration was similarly high on the agenda in 2019, and apart from the regular participation on various panels in a number of conferences and the active involvement within the Gaming Regulators European Forum, coupled with the regular participation at the International Association of Gaming Regulators, the Authority hosted a number of international delegations with the scope of sharing best practices and assisting new regulators in their journey to develop a holistic legal framework for the industry within their jurisdiction.
“In total, eight gaming regulators from different jurisdictions were hosted at the Authority’s offices in 2019, and collaboration is ongoing on many fronts to varying extents with the different jurisdictions.”