Image: Shutterstock

Carl Brincat, Chief Executive Officer of the Malta Gaming Authority, has stressed that the outlook remains positive for the future of the industry after disclosing a range of accomplishments through the past year.

In the regulator’s latest annual report and financial statements, which covers the land-based and online ecosystems, Brincat cited a range of initiatives, such as “forward-facing policies” to boost innovation and a player protection directive, as evidence to drive the industry forward.

Despite reflecting on “three years of unprecedented uncertainty,” the MGA has reported steady growth in terms of value added and employment, as well as an overall resilience that it “largely attributed to its ability to remain flexible and adapt to change.”

At the end of 2022, the number of companies licensed by the MGA and operating in Malta, including online and land-based entities, stood at 350. Gaming licences issued by the MGA amount to 358, as well as 329 approvals to offer various types of games under the B2C licence, as well as 206 on a B2B basis. Employment stood at 11,245 (2021: 10,685), 10,365 of which were in the online domain.

Throughout 2022, the MGA collected €78.7m in compliance contribution fees, levies and consumption tax, which represented continued growth over the past two years when activity had been affected by the pandemic.

“In the past year, we as an organisation have started seeing the fruits of the groundwork laid in 2021,” Brincat commented.

“These tools, coupled with the conclusion of a data strategy which will guide us over the next three years”

“However, we have also pressed ahead with further improvements and investments, particularly in technology. Standing still is the same as moving backwards, especially in an industry as dynamic as this one. 

“Indeed, over the past year, we have introduced additional business intelligence tools that help us make well-informed decisions even when time is of the essence. 

“These tools, coupled with the conclusion of a data strategy which will guide us over the next three years, are aligned with our commitment to base our regulatory decision-making on data and evidence.”

Detailing its activities through 2022, the regulator’s supervisory activities saw 28 compliance audits being conducted, which saw ten warnings issued and six licences suspected. 

In addition, 16 administrative penalties and three regulatory settlements were issued, which comprised an overall financial penalty of €179,150. 25 licences were also subject to remediation and/or administrative measures by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, which amounted to a little more than €738,000.

Furthermore, six individuals and companies were found to not meet the Authority’s fit and proper committee standards, 41 gaming licences were submitted with 31 issued, more than 1,500 criminal screen checks were undertaken and nine letters of breach regarding commercial communications regulations were distributed.

The MGA also supported a total of 5,280 players who requested assistance, in addition to conducting 85 responsible gaming-themed website checks.

“This report is testament to our collective efforts in promoting a fair and sustainable gaming ecosystem”

The latter discovered that 38 URLs were found to have misleading information, which in turn led to 17 notices being published and 30 observation letters being sent out reflecting responsible gaming issues.

Furthermore, a total of 224 alerts were sent to the industry, with 167 of those also being received by the appropriate sports governing bodies.

Requests for information regarding the manipulation of sports were submitted 44 times, while 475 suspicious betting reports from licensees and other concerned parties were received.

The regulator was also in receipt of 83 international cooperation requests from other regulators, with 177 official replies issued. 

Looking ahead, the regulator suggested that overall “the outlook for the Maltese gaming industry remains positive,” with the industry expected to “continue thriving and evolving”.

“This report is testament to our collective efforts in promoting a fair and sustainable gaming ecosystem,” added Brincat.

“Through proactive measures and leaner regulation processes, we strive to ensure a level playing field that nurtures innovation while safeguarding against any potential risks.

“As the global gaming landscape evolves, our role becomes even more critical. We embrace this responsibility with utmost determination, working tirelessly to stay ahead of emerging trends, technologies, and challenges.  

“We remain steadfast in our pursuit of robust frameworks that inspire confidence, protect vulnerable individuals and render Malta the home for gaming operators of good will.”