The Malta Independent 21 January 2021, Thursday

MGA reviewing risk profiles of business models used by Italian licensees following arrests in Italy

Kevin Schembri Orland Thursday, 15 February 2018, 08:35 Last update: about 4 years ago

The Malta Gaming Authority is reviewing and scrutinising certain business models adopted by Italian licensees and operators, The Malta Independent has learnt.

Sources within the industry said that the authority was planning a review of Italian companies. In addition, a recent news report on GamblingCompliance.com read that “The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is set to launch an investigation into all of its Italian online licensees as it attempts to root out connections between the island and illegal betting shops in Italy.”

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The Malta Independent contacted the Malta Gaming Authority about the report, and the rumours. The MGA was asked to explain the scope of the investigation, and who will be involved in the investigation.

In its reply, the MGA said it "adopts a risk based approach in its policy formulation, supervisory and compliance activities. In view of 1) recent Italian media articles, 2) our own intelligence gathering and 3) arrests carried out by the Italian police regarding alleged organised crime connections to Malta, the risk profile of certain business models adopted by Italian licensees and operators is currently under review and “enhanced scrutiny” in order to address potential future risks to the Maltese jurisdiction. One of the MGA’s key responsibilities is to ensure that gaming is kept crime free. In this respect, any information in our possession which may directly or indirectly compromise the fit and proper standing of individuals involved in Maltese licensees - the MGA would need to take action. We adopt a zero tolerance approach in this regard”.  

The MGA said: “We target any operator which may pose a risk to the jurisdiction.”

In the past, there have been Maltese gaming companies investigated over links to persons involved in the Italian mob. Most recently, the MGA suspended the remote gaming licence for Phoenix International Ltd. This occurred after the Italian authorities raids in Italy, in a Palermo-centred anti-mafia operation. Among the individuals arrested was Bendetto Bacchi, who, according to reports, controls around 700 betting shops in Italy. His shops, which were officially called data transmission centres, reports read, had terminals connecting to Phoenix Gambling sites.

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