The Malta Independent 14 April 2024, Sunday
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Malta Regulatory Updates: Which Companies Faced Problems With Gaming Licenses?

Friday, 16 February 2024, 11:44 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Malta Gaming Authority, Malta's gaming regulator, has taken strict action against several gambling operators in recent weeks. They failed to follow regulations and laws in Malta. This includes suspensions and cancellations licenses and ordering the return of player funds. This is part of the overall process of improving the quality of service provided by MGA casinos. This article analyses the main events and reasons for the tightening of regulation.

Cancellation of Genesis Global's Gaming Licence

The MGA cancelled Genesis Global's business-to-consumer license on January 11th, 2023. This came a year after an initial suspension. The cancellation stops Genesis from offering gambling permitted by the Malta license.

Genesis ran 23 sites. These include Vegasoo.com, Sloty.com, Spinit.com, and Genesiscasino.com. Next, Genesis Global Limited must settle unpaid fees within 7 days. It also needs to show player refunds issued within the same period according to Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

Additionally, Genesis must remove suggestions that the Malta Gaming Authority still approves it. The Gaming Authority works with Genesis liquidators on player payouts from the troubled operator.

It stated that it is working with the appointed liquidator for Genesis Global. The gaming regulator guarantees that player funds are remitted by providing necessary help.

Suspension of Rush Gaming's License

The regulator suspended Rush Gaming's permit indefinitely starting in early January 2023. Rush Gaming runs the Fansbet.com and Onebet.com internet gambling platforms.

Though reasons stay unclear, Malta law allows suspension of over-regulation breaches. During suspensions, existing users can still access accounts. Rush Gaming has to return holdings to registered gamblers as well.

Cancellation of Winners Malta Operations Ltd.'s License

On January 11th, the Authority also cancelled Winners Malta Operations' gaming licence. The company was ordered to stop all activities it was authorised to do in Malta immediately.

Winners Malta Operations was directed to settle all outstanding licensing fees within five working days of the cancellation notice. Like Genesis Global, the company must also remit funds owed to players and submit confirmation that the process has been completed.

Removing references to the canceled Malta license from relevant websites and domains was another mandate. The regulatory body noted that Winners does have the right under Maltese law to appeal the cancellation decision.

Recent Suspensions and Cancellations Signal Heightened Enforcement

In the first couple weeks of 2023, the Malta Gaming Authority took disciplinary actions against Genesis Global. It also took action against Rush Gaming and Winners Malta Operations. This shows that the MGA is making more effort to enforce standards.

Also, the Authority cancelled the license for Betago for these three operators this year and suspended authorizations for other businesses so far this year. The regulator has made compliance and following Malta's gaming regulations top priorities.

The increased enforcement efforts tie in with impending leadership changes. Starting on January 26th, Charles Mizzi will take over as the new CEO of the regulatory body.

Mizzi will replace former CEO Carl Brincat, who spent two years as the head of the Malta Gaming Authority. 

Appealing License Suspensions and Cancellations

Genesis Global and other affected companies have the right under Maltese gaming laws to appeal regulatory decisions like license cancellations. Suspensions and cancellations still take immediate effect regardless of potential appeals.

The appeals process does state that cancellations cannot be enforced indefinitely without justification. The MGA shows no signs of softening its stance against operators violating the rules.

Which Operators Are Most at Risk Under New MGA Enforcement Efforts?

Malta is a central hub for the online gambling industry in Europe and abroad. Because of its large iGaming jurisdiction and competitive tax incentives. Historically, just 2% of actions resulted in license cancellations or operator blacklisting. Some critics accuse the country of being too lenient.

The recent flurry of suspensions and cancellations at the start of 2023 showcases a reversal from past approaches. In the past, regulators in Malta tended towards prolonged monitoring and repeated warnings. They ultimately revoked operator licenses only as a last resort.

Instead, quick-trigger suspensions happen before serious due diligence. For example, this happened with Rush Gaming. This reflects the shift to swift, stringent punishments. This occurs regardless of operator size or track record.

Operators especially at risk under the new enforcement climate include:

  • New entrants are still establishing compliance programs.

  • Companies expanding aggressively into grey areas.

  • Struggling operators with financial or liquidity woes.

For these operators, even minor issues could prompt penalties:

  • Game testing regulation infractions.

  • Anti-money laundering process problems.

  • Failures in player identification procedures.

  • Advertising guideline violations.

Bottom Line

The MGA's increased cancellation actions in 2023-2024 signal a new era of intensified scrutiny. This has also lowered its tolerance for violations of Malta's gaming regulations. The recent suspensions, cancellations, and mandated returns of player funds provide tangible examples. They show that the country's gaming watchdog has become much fiercer.


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