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MGA chooses a gentle approach as license cancellations decline in 2021

In contrast to other years, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) issued more administrative penalties and warnings in 2021 than it did license cancellations.

The MGA's annual report for 2021 made this information public.

The MGA terminated seven licenses in total in 2021. Compared to the 14 licenses the regulator revoked in 2019 and the 12 in 2020, this number is noticeably lower.

The MGA did not suspend a single licence in 2021, compared to the 11 and 3 suspended by the MGA in 2019 and 2020, respectively, demonstrating the trend of less enforcement actions.

The agency has instead used administrative sanctions and warnings more effectively. In 2021, compared to 24 and 28, administrative fines were applied 31 times.

64 formal warnings were issued during the year as a whole, as opposed to 20 in 2019. This is less than the 70 the regulator granted in 2020, though.

According to the report, "In 2021, a total of 210 cases were discussed by the Compliance and Enforcement Committee (CEC). The latter’s decisions in such cases relate to the evaluation of enforcement recommendations with respect to the non-compliance breaches."

The regulator went into further detail on the advantages of enforcement.

"Enforcement is crucial for the authority; it helps us fulfil our mandate as a regulator. It is not only a necessary tool in our arsenal to achieve the mandate set out by law, but also essential as a measure of fairness towards licensees that are compliant," said the report.

"We ensure that our enforcement processes and procedures are streamlined and effective, with adequate room for adaptation wherever necessary." 

Additionally, the regulator visited 5,901 licensed casinos for its extensive land-based inspections and assessments in 2021.

In addition, the MGA investigated 64 nonprofit Tombolas, 92 commercial bingo halls, 1,537 lottery booths, 2,215 gaming parlors, and more.

The study also described how the Covid-19 pandemic reaction affected inspections in 2021 and how this affected the amount of inspections that could be conducted.

"The temporary closure of gaming premises during 2020 and 2021 resulted in a drop in the number of inspections we carried out in casinos, gaming parlours, commercial bingo halls and non-profit events. During the months in question, our efforts were invested in collaborating with the various gaming establishments,"  it said.

"These sought to upgrade the gaming devices, the count for table games and the re-sealing of all pertinent gaming equipment in order to ensure that they were deemed fit and proper to welcome the general public following the lifting of restrictions in June 2021."

Malta being on to the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) grey list was another significant development in 2021. Global anti-money laundering organization called the FATF.

tRyan C. Pace, chairperson of the MGA, stated that "the placing of Malta in 2021 on the FATF’s list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring was undeniably an obstacle in our continued effort to retain Malta’s position as the place of choice for the establishment of a sustainable and well-regulated gaming business"

"I believe that our achievements have contributed towards Malta’s removal from the FATF grey-list, whilst the changes that have been implemented in the past months will continue to strengthen our jurisdiction."


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