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MGA Publishes its 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.”

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Gaming Innovation Group: Share issue

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Reference is made to the announcement from Gaming Innovation Group Inc. (GiG) on 15 December 2022 regarding the acquisition of casino affiliate websites Askgamblers.com, Johnslots.com, Newcasinos.com and several smaller domains from Catena Media Plc.

As stated in the announcement, GiG will finance part of the initial consideration through a share issue and the Board of Directors has approved commitments of EUR 10.2 million from a group of investors to finance the equity part of the acquisition. Pursuant to agreed terms, the share price has been set to NOK 25.61, which represent a discount of 2.6% from the volume-weighted average share price for the GiG share so far in 2023.

4,267,112 new shares will be issued, and the number of outstanding shares will increase by 3.5%, from 122,786,526 to 127,053,638. The new shares are expected to be issued and admitted to trading next week and will be issued under the Company’s 150,000,000 authorized shares.

Closing of the acquisition is expected by end of January 2023.

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Euromat Adds Spain to its Growing Membership

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The European federation of gaming machine trade associations, Euromat, has added Spain to its membership.

The organisation has welcomed the Club de Convergentes as its 14th country member. Novomatic, Merkur, Zitro, Aristocrat and Bally Wulff are among the Club de Convergentes’ members.

Euromat now covers 11 countries and has nine corporate members. Last year it added Serbia and three new corporates into its membership.

Bernhard Teuchmann, president of the Club de Convergentes, said: “Joining Euromat and collaborating more closely with our colleagues across Europe reflects our desire to continue to grow our sector responsibly and ensure that we have the best possible offer for our customers.

“We want to play our role in helping to raise the standards for our industry across Europe and learn from the experience of others.”

Euromat president Jason Frost said: “Having the Club de Convergentes in Euromat is a vote of confidence in our association and its capacity to benefit its members.

“The Club de Convergentes shares our belief that our industry is stronger when working together to share knowledge and expertise, while always making the case with policymakers for a better business environment.”

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Spain’s DGOJ to Review “Sales Authorisation” of ONCE and SELAE

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Spanish lotteries ONCE and SELAE will be reviewed by the DGOJ – Spain’s directorate for gambling – in relation to how lottery games are marketed and sold to the public.

Spanish gambling and media stakeholders have been informed of the DGOJ’s consultation, which seeks feedback on the “commercial marketing of lottery games” allowed across Spain’s autonomous provinces.

The consultation will be open to responses until March 31, with the directorate highlighting that it required necessary feedback from Spanish media and public vendors of ONCE and SELAE games.

As stewards of Spain’s national lotteries, ONCE – the lottery for the disabled – and SELAE, the lottery for Spanish societies/charities, are allowed to authorise the sale of tickets and games via “public vendors” be it cafes, restaurants, tobacconists, retail shops, etc.

However, the DGOJ has highlighted that in recent years the Spanish public has witnessed an increase in the number of websites and online applications selling ONCE and SELAE games as authorised vendors.

Concerns have been raised on whether online vendors offer appropriate customer protection and guarantees on tickets sold to the public for ONCE and SELAE draws.

Spanish lotteries differ from other European nations, as customers purchase tickets with pre-printed numbers, participating in ballots to win a % share of a community jackpot – rather than the single draw format, which rewards an individual winner.

The unique format ensures that Spain maintains Europe’s most popular national lotteries, featuring the Christmas “El Gordo” and “El Nino” draws, which have distributed over €2.5bn in prizes to customers.

The DGOJ underlined the importance of its consultation to ensure that Spanish lotteries are free from corruption and to protect Spanish consumers from fraud.

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