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MGA Publishes its 2018 Annual Report and Financial Statements

George Miller

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MGA:Publication of 2018 Annual Report and Financial Statements
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The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has published its Annual Report and Financial Statements for the financial year ending 31 December 2018 (can be found here). The report provides an overview of the activities and work performed throughout the year by the MGA. Furthermore, the report includes a detailed summary of the performance of the Maltese gaming industry during 2018 as well as a medium-term outlook into the future.

Throughout 2018, the MGA mainly focused on the implementation of the new Gaming Act which empowered the Authority to further strengthen its regulatory oversight. Furthermore, the MGA focused on the regulatory compliance through implementation of a number of innovative internal and external initiatives which improved overall governance and supervision of the gaming sector. In 2018, the Authority continued to further strengthen its Anti-Money Laundering/Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) supervision, in order to ensure effectiveness in the mitigation of ML/FT risks relating to gambling services.

The Annual Report also looks at 2019 and beyond, with the MGA continuing to reinforce its compliance, risk and enforcement functions to ensure that it is equipped to achieve the regulatory objectives which the law requires it to pursue.

The following are the key highlights from the Annual Report:

  • In 2018, the MGA and the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) jointly issued the Remote Gaming Implementing Procedures – Part II that were directed toward the remote gaming sector. Throughout the year, both Authorities participated in cooperative initiatives to strengthen the oversight of the gaming sector;
  • Throughout 2018, the MGA conducted a total of 33 AML/CFT full-scope examinations, eight of which were conducted jointly with the FIAU;
  • During 2018, the Authority placed a strong emphasis on effective enforcement. To this effect, the MGA has issued 16 Notices of Reprimand and 73 Notices of Breach, suspended four licences and cancelled another eight. In addition, a total of 139 administrative fines were imposed on operators following various regulatory breaches;
  • In 2018, the MGA’s Fit & Proper Committee deemed 63 individuals or companies to be unsuitable for a licence, or for a significant role in a licensee, as the case may be. In particular, 37 of these were related to individuals or companies considered as not having satisfied the integrity and reputation pillars of the MGA’s fit and proper criteria due to possible connections to money laundering or funding of terrorism. Around 2,000 criminal probity screenings were conducted during the course of 2018;
  • In 2018, the Authority set up a Commercial Communications Committee as required in terms of the new regulatory framework, ensuring due process in the assessment of regulatory breaches stemming from the requirements relating to commercial communications. During the year, a total of 14 cases were evaluated, out of which seven decisions determined that there had been a breach of the regulations;
  • The Authority received 209 applications for a licence and issued 93 licences to gaming operators, with the remaining ones still going through the acceptance process. A total of eight licence applications were rejected during 2018;
  • During the year under review, the MGA continued its digitisation efforts, including further updates to the Licensee Relationship Management System to cater for the submission of the Monthly Licence and Compliance Contribution Report. Additional functionalities will be added on the portal throughout 2019; and,
  • In line with its vision to become an increasingly knowledge-driven organisation, the Authority conducted and published the results of two major surveys in 2018. The areas analysed by the MGA included the skills gap in the gaming industry and the threats and opportunities associated with the consumption of gambling and gaming services by Maltese residents.

In publishing this report, Heathcliff Farrugia, Chief Executive Officer of the Malta Gaming Authority, stated that: “2018 was a remarkable year for the Authority, predominantly because of the coming into force of the new law on the 1 August 2018. The new framework strengthened the MGA’s supervisory role, specifically in the areas of compliance and enforcement, enabling it to focus efforts on areas which present a higher risk profile.

The new regulatory regime has also been pivotal in ensuring the Authority could become more agile in its decision-making.

Last year was also the year when Malta adopted the EU’s 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive, which saw online gaming companies in Malta becoming obliged entities for the first time. This was challenging, both for licensees and the MGA, which together with the FIAU, started conducting onsite AML inspections.

In 2019, the MGA’s focus will be that of consolidating what has been built so far, and continue building on its regulatory powers, to ensure holistic regulatory oversight focusing on the integrity of market participants and the protection of consumers, whilst also embracing technological innovation without prejudicing the attainment of its regulatory objectives.”

Industry News

Enlabs Reorganises its Senior Management Team

Niji Narayan

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Enlabs Reorganises its Senior Management Team
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Enlabs has made a number of changes to its management team. The company has appointed George Ustinov as its COO and Adam Jonsson as CFO. This is done as part of a larger reorganisation to further increase efficiency in the company.

George Ustinov, who has been employed since 2017 and CFO since 2018, will be given operational responsibility for the Group as a result of his new role as COO. Ustinov holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and management from the University of Latvia.

Adam Jonsson takes over the position as CFO after being employed since the beginning of 2018 as Controller and also Head of Investor Relations. Prior to Enlabs, Jonsson worked for three years at the PwC audit firm. Jonsson holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and management from Lander University, USA.

“George has done a very good job as CFO and has gradually become more involved in the operational work. As we now prepare for the next growth phase, I want George to be able to dedicate full time to developing the operational business as COO and deputy CEO. Adam has been responsible for many of the financial parts already and has been part of the management team for the past year as responsible for investor relations matters, so it feels natural that he assumes the CFO role,” Enlabs president and chief executive Robert Andersson said.

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Industry News

ICU and Spectral technology take centre stage at EAG 2020

George Miller

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ICU and Spectral technology take centre stage at EAG 2020
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The gaming exhibition calendar for 2020 kick starts with EAG in London which takes place on 14 – 16 January 2020 at the ExCeL convention centre.  Leaders in cash validation, Innovative Technology, plan to have their latest Spectral Technology products and ICU age verification device centre stage on the stand.

Andy Bullock, Senior Business Manager commented, “EAG provides a platform for us to showcase new and exciting products and essentially launches our exhibition plan for 2020.  This year we will be focussing on showing EAG visitors the advantages of using Spectral Technology when validating and recycling cash. We are looking forward to showcasing our new Spectral Payout recycler ideal for high volume applications requiring multi-denomination recycling at fast speeds.  This advanced version of the SMART Payout offers a huge 80 note recycling capacity and can store and recycle all denominations from a given currency helping to manage float levels more efficiently and keep machines operational. Using Spectral Technology, it has the added benefit of offering complete note image capture (highest spectral coverage) to authenticate banknote validity and protect against fraudulent and stained notes.”

Andy continued, “The NV9 Spectral is also now gaining momentum in the gaming and amusement industry and customers are eager to extend their recycling capabilities by adding a compatible note float module (NV11 Spectral). This gives a fast and secure means of note recycling to ensure float levels and downtime are reduced. Installing this unit in conjunction with the SMART Coin System (SCS) – a bulk coin validator, mixed coin hopper and recycler in one, results in fast, multi-denomination recycling for both notes and coins.  The SCS has a market leading coin hopper capacity with payout speeds of up to 12 coins per second, eliminating coin starvation, the need for multiple hoppers and improving cashflow.”

“Since the introduction of ICU age verification earlier in the year we have been developing this product to include facial recognition technology and look forward to demoing this to the industry at EAG. These new features use facial recognition to identify those who have willingly self-excluded or have been excluded.  Supporting responsible gambling is imperative for the gaming industry and should be a key part of any corporate social responsibility policy. ICU can help ensure compliance with age restrictions to safeguard children and prevent underage gambling plus provide easy implementation of the self-exclusion scheme.”

ICU boasts a high level of accuracy with a proven 96% success rate in detecting under 18’s and compared to a human accuracy rate of 69% it outperforms humans across all age ranges. ICU is also listed in first place (99.8% accuracy) on the Labeled Faces in the Wild (http://vis-www.cs.umass.edu/lfw/) – a public benchmark for face verification.  It uses artificial intelligence and ITL’s own algorithms to recognise faces and verify age.

Concluding Andy said, “We are looking forward to showcasing our latest products and technologies at EAG so make sure you come and see us on stand 400.”

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Industry News

Microgaming ushers in a wave of diverse titles this December

George Miller

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Microgaming ushers in a wave of diverse titles this December
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Microgaming is set to deliver an entertaining display of vibrant content this festive season, with new and exclusive titles forming a compelling showcase this month.

Throughout December, leading software supplier Microgaming is offering a diverse roster of exclusive high-quality games from its network of independent studios and game development partners, to meet the needs of its customers worldwide. Players can immerse themselves in all the captivating artwork and unique features of Microgaming’s December releases.

The adventure begun on 3 December in the jungles of West Asia with the release of Ivory Citadel™, developed exclusively by Just For The Win. Shrouded in mystery and adorned with marble, stone, ivory, and flames, the five-reel, 20-payline slot is filled with superb visuals and exciting features, including Mystery Symbols, free spins, and three wild symbols.

Staged in an ancient temple in the snowy mountains, North Storm™ (Rabcat) lures players into a mystical world full of treasures. Scheduled to launch on Microgaming’s award-winning platform on 5 December, this five-reel, 25-payline fantasy-themed slot offers a strong feature line-up, including Bonus Falls, where symbols in winning combinations disappear and new symbols fall down to close the gaps, and the Increasing Multiplier, which is doubled to 8x in the free spins feature, offering rewarding win potential.

Due for release on 10 December, Treasures of Lion City (Pulse 8 Studios) brings intriguing adventures to life in the form of a thrilling five-by-three reel, 25-payline online slot, where stone buildings, statues and temples lie hidden in the deepest sea in the East. The game features Microgaming’s popular Rolling Reels™ mechanic and a Win Meter feature, which includes multipliers of up to 27x, creating excellent win potential of up to 2,600x the initial bet.

The craic looks mighty in Stumpy McDoodles (Foxium), a five-by-four reel, Irish-themed slot bringing a unique slant through its party atmosphere, a pair of mischievous characters and a hatful of features, including a pot of gold in the base game that reveals Stumpy Random Wilds and Random Multipliers. Players can utilise Foxify™, which increases the multiplier values awarded during the feature. Players get a second chance at triggering free spins with Rainbow Re-spin. During free spins, players collect coins for wilds and multipliers that progress through the remainder of the feature up to a 34x multiplier. Set to launch on 17 December, Stumpy McDoodles is loaded with charm and offers a never-ending party, filled with great rewards.

With an array of spectacular content planned, along with a wealth of existing Christmas-themed games, Microgaming customers can expect even further variety and more targeted, engaging gameplay throughout the month of December.

“Microgaming continues to diversify its exclusive content offering this December, along with popular partner games. Each new release is packed with thrilling features, formats and unique themes, offering operators incredible choice. 2019 has been a particularly exciting and busy year for Microgaming, with more than 40 feature-rich exclusive new games released, including blockbuster branded titles such as the action-packed Lara Croft® Temples and Tombs™ and Village People® Macho Moves online slots. We’re looking forward to building on that momentum as we head into 2020, when we will be revealing another wave of exciting releases and announcements to shake up the new year.” – James Buchanan, Director of Global Operations at Microgaming.

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