The Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2018 have been issued by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). The report serves as a summary of the activities and operations carried out by the MGA, during the year. This report also comprises a comprehensive outline of the performance of the Maltese gaming industry as a whole throughout 2018, along with a forecast into the near future.
During 2018, the MGA was primarily directed on the implementation of the new Gaming Act, which allowed the Malta Gaming Authority to enhance its regulatory supervision. Additionally, the Authority concentrated on regulatory compliance via the implementation of several new internal and external actions that developed overall control and administration of the gaming sector.
Last year, the MGA proceeded to advance its Anti-Money Laundering/Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) management, to guarantee effectiveness in the moderation of ML/FT risks pertaining to gambling services.
Besides covering 2018, the Annual Report also looks ahead to the latter part of 2019 and beyond. The Authority’s focus remains to carry out its compliance, risk and enforcement functions, establishing that it is sufficient to attain the administrative objectives which are legally required of them.
The main highlights which were noted in the Annual Report include the following:
- In 2018, the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) together with the MGA published the Remote Gaming Implementing Procedures - Part II, which were aimed at the remote gaming sector. Subsequently, both Authorities engaged in collaborative actions to support the management of the gaming sector;
- During 2018, the Malta Gaming Authority administered 33 AML/CFT full-scope audits, 8 of which were supervised together with the FIAU;
- Throughout 2018, the MGA considered competent enforcement as a priority. To demonstrate this, they issued 16 Notices of Reprimand and 73 Notices of Breach, suspended 4 licences and cancelled 8 licences. Furthermore, 139 administrative fines were instituted on operators who proved to breach regulations;
- Last year, the MGA’s Fit & Proper Committee regarded 63 individuals or companies to be inadequate for a licence, or for a significant role in a licensee. 37 of these were linked to individuals and companies unable to comply with the integrity and reputation pillars of the MGA’s Fit & Proper criteria. Reasons for this include possible connections to money laundering or funding of terrorism. In 2018, approximately 2,000 criminal probity screenings were overseen;
- Of the 209 applications which the authority received, 93 licences were issued to gaming operators. The remaining applications are still in the process of acceptance, while 8 were rejected;
- While under review, the MGA maintained its digitization efforts, including additional updates to the Licensee Relationship Management System to provide for the submission of the Monthly Licence and Compliance Contribution Report;
- In 2018, the Authority established a Commercial Communications Committee, as prescribed by the new regulatory framework, thus securing due process in the evaluation of regulatory violations arising from the obligations relating to commercial communications. In 2018, 14 cases were assessed, 7 of which showed violations of the regulations;
- The MGA published two prominent surveys in 2018, which affirm their mission to “become an increasingly knowledge-driven organisation”. The skills gap in the gaming industry, threats and opportunities associated with gambling and gaming services were a few of the areas which were taken into account.
Heathcliff Farrugia, CEO of the MGA, stated that “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 system has been vital in assuring the Authority could become sharper in its decision-making.
2018 was the year when Malta endorsed EU’s fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive. This meant online gaming companies in Malta are obligated to become entities, a first for Malta. The directive proved to be challenging for licensees as well as the MGA, who in collaboration with the FAIU, began onsite AML inspections.
Farrugia continued saying that, “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.”
To read the full annual report, click here.