The new Gaming Bill has been presented in Parliament for its first reading, where it aims to repeal all existing legislation regarding gaming, and replace it with a single Act, together with various subsidiary legislation containing technical directives and guidelines. Hon. Silvio Schembri, the Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy & Innovation for Malta has held that “this bill marks a major step in streamlining and encompassing the governance of all gaming services offered in and from Malta and across channels under the competence of the Malta Gaming Authority”.
The Proposed Legislation
Hon Schembri has held this bill focuses on improving the efficiency and flexibility for the Regulator, which he believes will result in a 4% growth within the industry. There are four major amendments which are being proposed through this bill, mainly: a simpler licencing system; extension and flexibility on the licence timeframe; a change in the tax rate and segmenting the role of the Key Official.
The Licencing system at the moment is a multi-licence system, where even though a company would be operating under the same website and under the same name, different licences are required. The new Gaming Bill will simplify this system by only offering two licences: a licence for Business-to-Business (B2B) services, and one for Business-to-Consumer (B2C) activities. Both these licences will cover the different types of activities across multiple distribution channels. This will make the process more operator friendly.
Under current legislation, the licences applied for by the company are valid for a period of 5 years. The new Gaming Bill wishes to extend this period to 10 years, where it would be easier for such licensees to seek stability and will reduce administrative burdens. The Bill also provides the Authority with the possibility to issue a limited duration licence for not more than 4 in a calendar year to any one person.
The Bill introduced the exemption from tax for B2B Licences in order to promote Malta as a competitive hub for service providers. This will prove to be quite useful for start-ups which offer their platforms for other businesses. The current system has proven to be inefficient due to the fact that unless agreements are reached between the parties within 6 months, start-ups will find it difficult to establish themselves.
The role of the Key Official has been divided into various key functions which are subject to the approval of the Malta Gaming Authority in order for there to be direct scrutiny and targeted supervisory controls. This will increase the responsibility of persons within the gaming field.
The Malta Gaming Authority also focuses on other important proposals which are being made through the Bill, including:
The introduction of a more effective measures for criminal and administrative justice
The establishment of the protection of an operation in distress
The strengthening of the Authority’s oversight through facilitative adherence to the regulatory obligations. The authority will also be allowed to intervene whenever necessary and proportionate.
The widening of the MGA’s powers to better achieve the regulatory objectives in line with the developments on anti-money laundering and funding of terrorism obligations.
The strengthening of the role of the MGA’s Player Support Unit
The support of the MGA’s role in fighting manipulation of sports competitions through the introduction of obligation on operators to monitor sports betting and report any suspicious bets