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Malta to implement stricter online gambling legislation

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The Minister of Finance of Malta, Tonio Fenech, has announced during the first parliamentary session after the summer break, various changes to the Lotteries and Casino regulation in Malta. He did not want Malta to turn into one large casino.

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The bill would amend various gambling laws, so no “gray areas” exist during court cases, and would put stricter enforcement measures in place. First casino gambling licenses will be issued for 12 months and are renewable only if there is no lawsuit against the owner at the time of renewal. Fenech said that gambling has always been permitted on Malta and that legalizing gambling is better than banning it. Malta is the only EU country that has regulated gambling and online casinos. Fenech stressed that regulation will not lead to liberalization, they do not want a casino in every town and city. Gambling companies will be monitored by the relevant authorities to ensure that business is conducted fairly. It will also provide standards that eliminates money laundering practices and will issue high fines to those who break the rules.

The gambling authority will get more power and manpower to uphold the regulations. Fenech said that there needs to be a clear distinction between gaming and entertainment or gambling machines. Manufacturers, suppliers and operators of gambling halls are to obtain a license, the same rules does not apply for amusement machines. The lottery and gamblingauthority (LGA) reserves the right to revoke a license or object to a renewal of a license on reasonable grounds. Simulators, skill games and video games do not get the same restrictions as entertainment, but may not have a higher stake than €2, and billiard tables and similar games may only accept €1. Also amusement games may not pay out, even in prices, because this develops gaming for profit.

The difference between an entertainment or a gambling machine is determined by the lottery and gambling authority (LGA). The bill sets the minimum age limit for amusement games to 18 years, and the minimum age for admission to the casino to 25. LGA inspectors will be allowed to gain access to premises where gambling takes place, and have the right to directly participate in legal proceedings on the gambling issue. In general, the bill puts regulation in place for gambling, the equipment and staff of the gambling business, and visitors of such a business, also the bill offers protection for players. Gamblingcompanies in the vicinity of a school will not receive a license, and if a school is built near a gambling business, that gambling company will then have to move. Fenech said that the maximum number of machines in a business may be 10, and are not allowed the vicinity of educational places where many children can be found, or near a building of worship. The last rules Fenech noted was that companies must keep personal details of all players and must have a self-exclusion for gamblers in place. Also, premises would require CCTV monitoring which would be stored for 60 days. In addition, gambling companies may not be open 24 hours a day, but are allowed to be open between 11am and 11pm. Employees of gambling companies will need a gambling license, and receive training for their responsibilities and the code of conduct.

Malta’s approach is one of more rules and stricter licensing and enforcement to keep the online casino gambling industry safe.

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