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Malta's Gaming Act Amendment: All You Need to Know

Thursday, 19 October 2023

Malta, a Mediterranean island nation, has emerged as a global hub for the online gambling industry, largely due to its proactive efforts to regulate and attract iGaming businesses. Over the years, Malta has seen remarkable growth in its iGaming sector, becoming home to over 300 iGaming companies, including online casinos, sports betting firms, software providers, and affiliate marketers. This thriving industry has not only contributed significantly to Malta's economy but has also established the island nation as a premier location for iGaming companies worldwide.

On June 21, 2023, the Maltese Parliament approved a set of amendments to the Gaming Act (CAP. 583) through Bill 55, marking a significant development in the country's iGaming landscape. The primary objective of Bill 55 is to formalize Malta's longstanding public policy of preserving the framework for remote gaming operations. This policy has been in place since the early 2000s when Malta issued its first remote gaming licenses, solidifying its reputation as an iGaming powerhouse.

Article 56A

One of the key changes introduced by Bill 55 is Article 56A, which has stirred controversy. This provision essentially shields license holders and key individuals from legal action if such action challenges the legality of gaming services provided within or from Malta under a license issued by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA).

Additionally, Article 56A denies recognition and enforcement in Malta of foreign judgments related to these actions. However, the scope of this amendment is limited, only applying when lawsuits challenge the legality of gaming services and are connected to activities allowed under the license.

Critics argue that this mechanism was introduced by the Maltese government to protect its iGaming sector from accountability within the European Union, potentially conflicting with EU laws and treaties.

Nevertheless, the MGA defends the provisions, asserting that they align with EU legislation concerning the freedom to provide business services, a fundamental principle of the European constitution.

For those holding a Malta license or considering it in the future, this is good news that can allow them to operate securely in Malta and other markets.

Open to Interpretation: "Lawful Gaming Activity"

A central point of contention is the interpretation of "lawful gaming activity." This issue is closely related to the Macolin Convention, an initiative by the Council of Europe aimed at addressing the Manipulation of Sports Competitions. The convention encourages cooperation between public authorities, sports organizations, betting operators, and competition organizers to prevent, detect, and penalize match-fixing. Malta's reluctance to ratify the convention stems from the absence of a clear definition of "illegal sports betting."

While Malta integrated the entire content of the Macolin Convention into its law in 2018, the lack of a definition for illegal sports betting has hindered full ratification.

The Malta Gaming Authority emphasizes that its reservations regarding the convention do not concern its scope but rather sections that fall outside that scope.

FAQs on Gambling Laws in Malta

  • Why is the recent law change considered controversial?

The recent legislative change, Bill 55, has sparked controversy due to its implications for foreign betting operators. It limits their ability to take legal actions against MGA licensed casinos in Malta. However, the same law provides Maltese operators with more freedom to enhance player-protection measures and modernize their operations, which has raised concerns and discussions in the industry.

  • How will the new law impact gambling operators in Malta?

The new law has significant implications for licensed gambling operators in Malta. It establishes Malta as a key hub for online gambling activities, offering licensed MGA casinos legal protection against potential legal consequences. This provision not only enhances the operators' sense of security but also boosts their confidence in the regulatory environment.

  • What does the approval of this law mean for players and consumers?

The approval of this law benefits both players and online gambling stakeholders in several ways. Players can enjoy additional protection from potential financial and legal issues when participating in MGA licensed casinos. Renowned as well as new MGA casinos now provide safeguards against losses and offer legal assistance for filing claims, thereby enhancing consumer confidence and safety in the iGaming industry.

Fast Offshore

If you hold a Malta license and want more information on what the changes mean for you, or you want to apply for a Malta license, Fast Offshore can help. We have over 26 years of experience in the iGaming sector and have been working within Malta since the first license was issued. Our team are on hand to help guide you through all processes and answer any questions you may have. We can also take care of the setup process, application, and all ongoing maintenance, if a Malta license is what you are after!

To find out more, contact us today!

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