The Malta Gaming Authority has stressed confidence in the future of the Maltese gaming landscape, despite the economic slowdown and a number of uncertainties, in an interim performance report that covers January to June 2022.
This came as the regulator noted that the industry “sustained its contribution towards the growth of the economy” during the aforementioned period, with €573m in gross value added reported. This represents approximately eight per cent of the economy’s total GVA.
With indirect effects factored in it is reported that this figure swells to around ten per cent, with the gaming industry estimated to have registered a 12.2 per cent growth in value added during H1 2022 when contrasted to the same period one year earlier.
Within the report, the MGA confidently declared that “the sector appears to have emerged in a stronger position” when faced with instability that the group said “posed a threat to the stability of Malta’s robust gaming industry”. The Ukraine-Russia war and Financial Action Task Force greylisting were both cited.
Elsewhere, the MGA also reported that regulatory development in markets served by the relevant licence “have continued to adversely affect the activity of the online gaming sector”. It is said that a wave of local regulation that is sweeping across European markets means B2C operators licensed in Malta “are becoming increasingly restricted” within the EU/EAA.
“Overall, the future of the gaming landscape in Malta remains positive,” the MGA wrote. “Industry players are to remain vigilant in the context of the impending economic slowdown, any uncertainties stemming from regulatory developments and the trends that will characterise the future of gaming and entertainment.
“Nevertheless, the gaming industry is expected to continue to play a fundamental role in Malta, backed by a sound and robust regulatory framework and an economic environment which provides for the required human resources and operational infrastructures.”
The performance report noted that, during the period, 16 compliance audits were conducted together with 114 desktop reviews, as well as seven AML/CFT compliance examinations on behalf of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit.
The Authority also issued a warning, cancelled a licence and as suspended another authorised entity, following information which emerged from compliance audits, reviews and formal investigations.
Furthermore, the MGA issued a total of seven administrative penalties as well as two regulatory settlements, with a collective total financial penalty of €85,000.
Enforcement measures were also issued by the FIAU to an additional four licensees, which ranged from written reprimands to administrative penalties, with an emphasis on remediation measures, based on the breaches identified during examinations carried out in previous years, including by the MGA itself. In total, these amounted to just over €386,567.
Four individuals and entities were deemed to not meet the Authority’s fit and proper criteria, while an additional two applications were rejected by the Supervisory Council, while 626 criminal screening checks were undertaken.
Amid ongoing efforts to safeguard players and promote responsible gaming, the Authority aided 2,578 players who requested assistance. This, said the MGA, covered the majority of the cases received during 2022 as well as a spillover from 2021.
In addition, 22 cases of websites containing misleading references were investigated, with 13 notices published on the MGA’s website amid an aim of preventing the public from falling victim to such scams. Furthermore, an additional 18 responsible gambling website checks were conducted, and five observation letters were issued.
When it comes to national and international cooperation, 122 alerts of suspicious betting activities were sent to the industry, with 278 allegations from licensees and interested parties received.
The MGA participated in 12 investigations into sports rules violations or manipulation of sporting competitions during the time under review, with 23 requests for information regarding sporting manipulation of regulation violations also received.
At the end of 2022, the total number of gaming devices in the archipelago’s four gaming venues, namely the Dragonara Casino, Portomaso Casino, Casino Malta and Oracle Casino, stood at 892. This comprises 880 slot machines and 12 sports betting devices.
The MGA will publish a full-year industry performance report during the second half of 2023.