The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has revealed that it suspended 11 licences and cancelled another seven between January and June 2019.
In its interim performance report for the first six months of the year, the authority added that it had also issued 11 notices of reprimand and handed down a total of eight administrative fines as it ramped up its efforts to combat money laundering and the funding of terrorism.
The regulator took the action due to information that emerged from compliance audits, compliance reviews and formal investigations, as well as through “intelligence gathering and knowledge-sharing with relevant authorities”.
Over the six-month period, the authority entered into Memoranda of Understanding with the Malta Police Force and the Swedish Gambling Authority, while delegations were hosted from Ireland, Lagos and Ghana, with the aim of sharing information and increasing co-operation.
The MGA also received 23 international co-operation requests and sent 33 such requests, covering areas including sports integrity, criminal activity by players, adverse media reports, locally licensed operators and entities not holding a licence.
A total of 597 criminal probity screening tests were carried out covering both land-based and remote gaming activities, while the Player Support Unit received a total of 1,753 requests for assistance and resolved 1,915 queries over the period.
The MGA’s Fit & Proper Committee additionally held 19 meetings throughout the first six months of 2019 with a total of 107 decisions taken, including 13 refusals and 48 conditional verdicts.
Peter Spiteri, chief officer of finance and programme management at the authority, said: “During the first six months of 2019, the MGA continued with the implementation of the Gaming Act for the land-based industry that became subject to the new law from 1 January 2019. A lot has been done by the authority to ensure that the implementation was completed effectively and all systems and procedures cater to the new requirements.
“During the past months, the MGA has increased the co-operation efforts with the international counterparts, relevant authorities and other regulatory bodies to further improve the efficacy of co-operation and exchange of information for better regulation.
“Despite various challenges facing the sector over the past years, the gaming sector continues to consolidate its standing within the Maltese economy. The MGA strives to ensure that the industry in Malta remains compliant with an evolving set of regulations that cater for newly emerging risks and maintains a strong reputation.”
The watchdog added that the gaming industry contributed about 13.6% of the total value added to the Maltese economy during the first half of 2019, with the sector supporting 7,011 full-time equivalent jobs – up from 6,794 at the end of December 2018.