MGA lauds ‘remarkable year for the authority’

The Malta Gaming Authority has published its annual report for 2018, providing a summary of its igaming industry during the year as well as providing an overview of the activities and work performed by the regulator.

Moving to implement its new gaming act, a strengthening of regulatory compliance via a number of internal and external initiatives was highlighted, as well as striving to bolster anti-money laundering supervision.

Placing a strong focus on effective enforcement, the MGA issued 16 notices of reprimand, 73 notices of breach, suspended four licences and cancelled eight during the period, as well as handing out 139 fines to operators following various regulatory breaches.

Furthermore, via its fit and proper committee 63 individuals or companies were deemed to be unsuitable for a licence, or for a significant role in a licensee, with 209 applications for a licence received and 93 subsequently issued, with the remaining ones still going through the acceptance process.

During the year the MGA generated a total revenue of €75.2m, a 14 per cent increase year-on-year from €66.3m, with contributions in gaming taxes up 16 per cent to €63.2m (2017: €54.5m).

Looking ahead, a reinforcement of compliance, risk and enforcement functions is stressed, as well as maintaining growth in line with the global industry, with it highlighted that gaming is now the third-largest productive sector in Malta, as its share in the economy edged up to approximately 13 per cent.

Heathcliff Farrugia, chief executive officer of the Malta Gaming Authority, explained: “2018 was a remarkable year for the authority, predominantly because of the coming into force of the new law on the 1 August 2018. 

“The new framework strengthened the MGA’s supervisory role, specifically in the areas of compliance and enforcement, enabling it to focus efforts on areas which present a higher risk profile.

“The new regulatory regime has also been pivotal in ensuring the authority could become more agile in its decision-making.

“Last year was also the year when Malta adopted the EU’s fourth anti-money laundering directive, which saw online gaming companies in Malta becoming obliged entities for the first time. This was challenging, both for licensees and the MGA, which together with the FIAU, started conducting onsite AML inspections.

“In 2019, the MGA’s focus will be that of consolidating what has been built so far, and continue building on its regulatory powers, to ensure holistic regulatory oversight focusing on the integrity of market participants and the protection of consumers, whilst also embracing technological innovation without prejudicing the attainment of its regulatory objectives.”