The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has published its Annual Report & Audited Financial Statements for the financial year ending December 31, 2020.

The report provides an overview of the work carried out over the year and highlights the main projects undertaken by the Authority during the same period.

In addition, the report also describes the performance of the Maltese gaming industry during 2020, as well as a medium-term perspective for the future, followed by a detailed report explaining key statistics for the physical and online gaming sectors in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.

The following are the main highlights of the Annual Report covering the year 2020:

  • Between January and December 2020, following information resulting from compliance audits, compliance reviews and formal investigations, the Authority issued 69 warnings, suspended 3 licenses and canceled another 12. In addition, the MGA issued a total of 24 administrative penalties.
  • In 2020, 30 compliance audits were carried out by the Compliance and AML function, one of which related to a live studio, and 324 desktop reviews were carried out, of which 98 identified deficiencies which were consequently escalated to the Compliance Committee and Application.
  • In 2020, 8 individuals and companies were considered by the Compliance and Correction Committee not to meet the Authority’s standards of probity, primarily based on mitigating the risks of money laundering or terrorist financing.
  • During the twelve-month period of 2020, a total of 1,475 criminal probity checks were carried out, an increase of 13.5% when compared to the year 2019.
  • In terms of AML/CFT, during the twelve-month period of 2020, a total of 27 supervision exams on online gaming licenses were carried out by the MGA, of which 10 were full scope exams, 3 were targeted exams, 8 were thematic exams, and 6 were supervisory meetings.
  • In 2020, the MGA conducted a total of 65 interviews with potential MLROs and key persons who performed the AML/CFT function to determine each candidate’s knowledge and suitability, of which 40 were approved, 17 were conditionally approved, and 8 were rejected .
  • MGA’s Commercial Communications Committee acted against 10 advertisements or promotions that, in the Committee’s opinion, improperly exploited the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • During 2020 the Player Support Unit received a total of 5,625 requests for assistance, an increase of 58% over 2019, potentially due, at least in part, to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on player behavior.
  • In its efforts to boost knowledge sharing and cooperation with international counterparts, the MGA hosted a delegation of members from the Lotteries and Games Council and the Ministry of Interior and Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
  • The Authority received 67 requests for international cooperation from other regulators and sent 47 requests, the majority of which referred to requests for background checks as part of an authorization process.
  • During the year 2020, a total of 168 requests for information specifically related to the manipulation of sports competitions or violations of sports rules were submitted by enforcement agencies, sports governing bodies, integrity units and other regulatory bodies. In addition, a total of 288 suspicious betting reports from licensees and other interested parties were received.
  • During the period under review, the Authority was a direct participant in 20 different investigations around the world related to the manipulation of sporting competitions or violations of sporting rules.
  • Recognizing the importance of establishing data sharing agreements with relevant stakeholders, including sport governing bodies and other platforms whose role includes detecting suspicious betting activity, the MGA signed a total of five agreements, namely, one agreement sharing data with the International Cricket Council, the Swedish Football Association, the Darts Regulatory Authority, the World Professional Pool & Snooker Association and the Slovak Football Association.
  • During 2020, MGA and FIAU signed an updated version of the Memorandum of Understanding that brought better cooperative instruments for the supervision of AML/CFT in the gaming sector.
  • The Authority has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Malta Registry of Business with the aim of facilitating close and continuous communication between the authorities and the effective sharing of information.
  • In order to increase cooperation with our international counterparts, the MGA and the Dutch Kansspelautoriteit (the Dutch Gambling Authority) have agreed a Memorandum of Understanding based on the fact that the two authorities will support each other by sharing best practices and information in support of their responsibilities in law, while engaging in discussions on policy issues of interest.
  • The MGA has also strengthened its collaboration with the Commissioner for Voluntary Organizations, creating a process whereby any entity that applies for a non-profit game only receives a permit if that entity is a registered and compliant voluntary organization.
  • Recognizing the importance of regular stakeholder dialogue, throughout 2020 over 55 external communications were sent out, providing a synopsis of various updates and developments within the Authority and industry.

In publishing this report, the CEO, Dr. Carl Brincat, said:

“The year 2020 will undoubtedly be remembered for the challenges that the pandemic presented us, and I am proud of the Authority’s employees who worked tirelessly to ensure that we continued to perform the roles required of us by law.”

“Keeping the ‘ship’ stable during a challenging year serves as a strong foundation for us to look to the future with a renewed commitment to continue building on the strengths and ameliorating our weaknesses to reach new heights in our regulatory approach.”