A new Malta Gaming Act, enacted by the Maltese government, took effect just recently on July 1 2018. Among other things, the Act seeks to make the Malta gaming license safer and simpler for both the government of Malta and for casino operators alike. As of now, the new Malta Gaming Act applies to the online gambling industry only and will only apply to land-based casinos starting on 1 January 2019.

The motion for a new Malta Gaming Act was presented before the Malta Parliament by Hon. Silvio Schembri who is the Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy & Innovation. In March this year, a debate for the new Act by the Maltese parliament followed before the bill was passed on May 10 taking effect on July 1.

Before the new Malta Gaming Act took effect, various pieces of legislation guided both the online gambling industry and land-based casinos. However, with the new Act coming into effect, only a single Act of Parliament now guides both industries.

The new Malta Gaming Act comes with a raft of changes which the Malta Parliament believes will help in making the Malta Gaming License more streamlined for all parties bound by the license. Among the changes is the consolidation of gaming enforcement powers under one roof. The Malta Gaming Authority is now the only recognised body in the country that oversees anything associated with the gaming industry. By resting all the enforcement powers under one corporate body, it’s believed that unnecessary bureaucratic processes are to be eliminated which thereby creates a more robust and responsible gaming industry in terms of performance and operation.

Furthermore, with the Malta Gaming Authority possessing all the powers to regulate the gaming industry, it means that all resources will be channelled to it, and with these resources, the MGA will be able protect consumers on a more aggressive level. The Malta Gaming Authority now has more abilities to enforce functions that deter funding of terrorism and money laundering schemes.

Apart from this, the new Act also replaces the current multi-license system. Based on the new laws, the Malta Gaming Authority will be issuing one of two licenses to any potential gambling or casino operator. This comes in the form of either a Business to Business license or a Business to Consumer license, depending on the nature of the venture.

The new gambling law ensures that a segmentation process happens as the key official role in the Malta Gaming Authority. More functions are to be created to deal with supervisory controls, direct scrutiny and license approval tasks. By splitting the key role into different functions, the Act seeks to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the Malta Gaming Authority board.

Moreover, the Malta Gaming Act formalises the player protection framework and enshrines segregation of player funds at law. What this means is that online casinos (now) and land-based casinos (starting 1 January 2019) are required to reveal where they hold customer’s money. If the casino is afloat, it should keep the customers’ funds at Basic Segregation, but if facing insolvency, then the customers’ funds will not be protected.

Additionally, the new Malta Gaming Act bolsters Malta Gaming Authority’s role in fighting against the manipulation of sports competitions. This means Malta Gaming Authority is now able to monitor sports bets by players and follow up on any suspicious bets. In monitoring suspicious bets, Malta Gaming Authority will work with the National Anti-Corruption Task Force. In the same vein, the Act introduces a distinction between criminal offences and administrative offences in the gaming industry.

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