LCB on Maltese approach to gambling regulation

For all its advantages, gambling online can be a dangerous endeavor. In an age when our favorite casino games are only a click away, it is hard to believe that such a wide-spread phenomenon is still lacking a global legal framework to protect both operators and consumers. Instead, we find ourselves caught in a confusing whirlwind of constant changes, where we’re never really sure where we stand in legal terms. Regulations differ from country to country, from one venue to another, and often stand opposed to each other, complicating matters even further. Players quickly learn that to pass unscathed in this dynamic environment; there are safety measures to be taken first.

The first thing most of us look for in a casino is an appropriate license issued by an established authority. A valid permit should not be easy to come by nor to keep, so we take it as an indicator of a trustworthy company. There exist many licensing jurisdictions in the world today, a fact that poses another dilemma for both players and the companies seeking to operate a gaming site: which of them is of the highest merit?

There is no absolute answer to this question – all governing institutions have certain advantages and disadvantages when it comes to the kind of assurance they provide. One of the oldest and best known legislative establishments is the Malta Gaming Authority.

Malta was the first of the EU member states to regulate gambling on the Internet. Looking for ways to boost its economic growth, the country recognized the potential of the increasingly popular remote gaming and chose to cultivate this entertainment branch by giving the sector a set of necessary control measures. The framework implemented when the industry as a whole lacked coherent regulations, and as such, it’s considered a standard today. Malta is among the world’s largest and most popular jurisdictions, having issued licenses to more than 200 operators since its conception.

Simplified Application Procedures

The MGA used to grant multiple types of licenses relating to different gaming categories and platforms. Operators who wanted to run casino games, betting on sports and poker all within the same website, as well as on desktop and mobile, had to acquire a permission for each of these, making the procedures overly long and complicated. It was improved upon in 2004 when the legislation was corrected to simplify the application processes. In this respect, the license classes that the MGA now awards are closer in type to most other jurisdictions.

Low cost

International companies are attracted to Malta due to the affordable corporate and income taxes. Annual fees vary depending on the type and number of licenses granted, but a maximum gaming tax does not exceed €460,000. While some others, like Curacao, charge nothing whatsoever, the MGA fees can still be considered competitive.

Fair Conditions

The requirements and protocols that the MGA imposes on applicants and license holders are quite rigorous but fair. Regarding the difficulty of obtaining approval, they can be considered middle ground between the strictest and the most lenient that exist today. Companies must be, at least in part, physically located in Malta. Solid reputation and the outline of a business plan are expected of all applicants. To run a proper business, ensure player protection and prevent money laundering, casinos must maintain financial records and monthly reports of player balances, follow data security protocols and endorse responsible gaming. One notable condition, not all jurisdictions require is the certification of fairness obtained six months prior – this ensures the software is using random number generators to produce the outcomes of the games. Furthermore, in a case of any changes to the already certified software, the company must be audited again.

Malta is also the only governing body to keep track of online casinos that falsely claim to hold their licenses – the list is published and updated accordingly on the official website.

Effective Support Functions are in the Works

In recent times, the MGA has been focusing on improving the laws relating to player support and protection. This segment criticized in the past as inadequate has the jurisdiction promising higher quality services to match those offered to operators. A particular emphasis is given to support options directly with authority itself, and to this end, they have recently implemented a live chat function on the website.

In addition to monthly audits of player funds, licensed casinos ensure all customers are of legal age and have the options of self-limitation, self-exclusion and access to the Responsible Gaming Foundation to promote responsible gambling and helping risk players.

Due to the experience, longevity, stringency and the fact that many established casinos operate under its supervision, Malta has earned a reputable status in the industry. Holding a strong position as one of the most attractive European-based regulators, it remains committed to enhancing fraud prevention, as well as consumer support.

Have you attended SiGMA last year? Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

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