Speaking to the Times of Malta, Gaming Authority CEO insists that the regulator is carrying out its role as watchdog but that other industry stakeholders must step up
Heathcliff Farrugia, CEO of the Malta Gaming Authority, has called for an improvement in the culture of compliance in the industry. Farrugia noted that compliance in iGaming relies not only on the regulator and the government, but on all involved in the industry who must match the government's efforts.
Heathcliff Farrugia stated, “Compliance cannot only belong to the regulator. It has to belong to everyone: the service provider, the licensee, the accounting firm working with them, the whole ecosystem.”
Farrugia added, “I would not say I am worried at this stage. But we either want compliance and to grow in a properly regulated way, or we start leaving loopholes and everyone will be happy in the short term – but find problems in the long term.”
Farrugia commented on the efforts of the Authority during the last 18 months. “Other regulators tell us that we do double what they do when it comes to new applicants,” he said.
Farrugia commented on the impact of Brexit on the Authority. He stated, “The moment the UK exits, no one is really sure whether it – including Gibraltar – will be considered as a place of establishment. A UK company in the UK can today hold a Malta licence. Post-Brexit we do not know if that will still be allowed. That is why a number of operators are considering other options and setting up in the EU – and why some of them are thinking of moving from the UK.”
As well as ensuring that gaming is keeping up with compliance standards, the MGA is also facing other opportunities, one of which is blockchain. More recently, the Authority issued guidelines on the test environment – known as a sandbox – which could be used by existing licensed operators to either use cryptocurrencies or blockchain technology in a controlled way, for a year. These would be subjected to a number of additional restrictions over and above those that apply for fiat currencies. Farrugia noted, “Cryptocurrencies will eventually be regulated and once they are, things will change and they will become normal business.”
Farrugia added that the success of gaming in Malta is due to the longevity of the industry and the strength of the people and companies behind it, and of course its innovative attitude. Looking forward, Farrugia hopes that the same will follow suit for blockchain.
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