MGA reveals 1.6 million players requested self-exclusion in 2019

The Malta Gaming Authority has revealed that around 1.6 million players requested to self-exclude themselves for a definite or indefinite period, according to data collected during 2019.

Through the MGA 2019 Annual Report and Financial Statements for the financial year ending December 31, 2019, 31 per cent of players requested to exclude themselves indefinitely, with 27 per cent requesting a one month exclusion option. Player exclusion imposed by operators stood at 82 per cent for an indefinite period.

Self-exclusion requests can be made by the players themselves and gaming operator’s can impose exclusions, particularly in cases where there are ‘sufficient reasons’ that indicate a player may have gambling issues. Out of the total figure 400,000 which imposed self-exclusion were implemented by operators.

While more than one-third of the online players opted to self-exclude themselves for an indefinite period of time, players at local gaming outlets preferred to self-exclude themselves for either six months (49 per cent) or 12 months (51 per cent). 

Out of all the exclusion requests, 42 per cent were in the age group of 25–34, followed by those within the 35–54 age category with 34 per cent, and the 18–24 age group at 18 per cent. The remaining six per cent of exclusion requests are individuals aged 55 and over. 

In terms of gender distribution, both the land-based and the online gambling sectors self-exclusion requests were made predominantly by males. Throughout the period under review, men submitted 75 per cent of the requests for both sectors. 

In publishing this report, Heathcliff Farrugia, chief executive officer of the Malta Gaming Authority, stated: “Overall, 2019 was a very challenging but at the same time 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.”

The MGA 2019 Annual Report also includes a summary of the performance of the Maltese gaming industry during 2019 and an outlook for the medium-term future.

It highlighted that the Authority cancelled 12 licences and suspended an additional 11 whilst issuing 20 warnings, with 89 notices of breach and 23 administrative fines imposed on operators following various regulatory breaches.

In total, 89 applications for a gaming licence were received in 2019 with 44 applications either rejected or withdrawn and 53 licences were issued during the period under review.

At the end of December 2019, the number of companies licensed by the MGA, including both online and land-based, stood at 294.