Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation Silvio Schembri announced that a motion will be presented in Parliament for the first reading of a new Gaming Bill. The Bill will seek to repeal all the existing gaming rules regulations and replace it with a singular primary Act of Parliament, together with subsidiary legislation covering horizontally the main thrusts of gaming regulation as well as a series of technical directives and guidelines currently being consulted on by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) for eventual publication and rollout by the regulator once the Act comes into force.
“This Bill marks a significant step in streamlining and encompassing the governance of all gaming services offered in and from Malta and across all channels under the competence of the MGA. The Government wants to ensure that the Malta gaming industry continues to be run responsibly, fairly and free from criminal activity, so that we provide a safe and enjoyable leisure activity to the public generally, which is also an important source of revenue and jobs”, Silvio Schembri said.
Through this Bill, the Government is ensuring that the MGA has the necessary latitude, resources and powers to effectively regulate gaming in Malta and protect consumers as required, focusing on evidence-based methodologies. “We hope to remove any red tape by increasing efficiency and flexibility for the regulator, whilst improving the robustness of the current framework and focusing regulation on outcomes”, said Silvio Schembri while adding that the Act elevates the excellent reputation of the Maltese jurisdiction in this sector. Schembri said that the new legal framework will see the industry grow by a further 4% over and above its present double-digit growth rate.
The press conference was also addressed by Joseph Cuschieri, Executive Chairman of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), who stated “this is indeed an important milestone and we welcome this major step forward by the Maltese Government. This Bill contains draft proposals which aim to bridge the regulatory gap between various gaming verticals and channels, including new technologies serving as a platform to future proof gaming regulation, whilst ensuring that consumers enjoy a consistent standard of protection.”
The proposed regulatory framework will strengthen the MGA’s compliance and enforcement functions to better achieve its regulatory objectives, in line with concurrent developments on anti-money laundering and funding of terrorism obligations. It also empowers the MGA to be more agile in its decision-making, decreasing unnecessary regulatory burdens whilst concurrently strengthening supervision and focusing the regulator’s efforts on the areas which present a higher risk profile. Other important areas of focus include consumer protection standards, responsible gaming measures, reporting of suspicious sports betting transactions in the fight against the manipulation of sports competitions, and objective-orientated standards to encourage innovation and development.
The motion presented in Parliament is a result of an extensive period of public consultation conducted by the MGA, with various industry stakeholders involved with gaming in Malta and the general public, as well as numerous technical studies, and economic and financial assessments. The consultation was launched in July 2017 and was very well received by the industry resulting into feedback from 53 different parties based both locally and abroad.