All forms of gaming in Malta, be they land-based or online, are governed by the Gaming Act. Established under this Act, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is responsible for the issuing of gaming licences, for ascertaining that licensees are fit and proper persons to carry out the functions relative to gaming, for ensuring that licensees comply with the licence conditions and to ensure that games and gaming are kept free of criminal activity.
The application process is divided into five stages that include the following:
- Fit and Proper;
- Business Planning;
- Operational and Statutory Requirements;
- System Review; and
- Compliance Review.
Applications may apply for a gaming service (B2C) or a critical gaming supply licence (B2B).
Fit and Proper
During the stage, the MGA carries out a probity check with other national and international regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies, together with various other due diligence measures it deems necessary relative to the entities holding (directly or indirectly) 10% of the shares in the applicant company, including the Ultimate Beneficial Owners. However, the review is not limited to the Ultimate Beneficial Owners, and includes all individuals involved in key management roles within the gaming operation (key function roles).
The applicant’s business plan is expected to include information on the applicant’s and management team’s gaming experience, the management of the gaming operations, an overview of market locations, an overview of games, a marketing plan as well as details of the technical set-up, supported by a detailed three-year forecast of the operation. The MGA conducts an in-depth analytical review of the applicant’s business plan.
Operational and Statutory Requirements
This stage includes an examination of incorporation documents, policies and procedures, including but not limited to the terms and conditions, and rules, of the games, together with agreements with third party service providers. All documentation must be drafted as per the system documentation form issued by the MGA.
The MGA will request a system audit to be carried out on the gaming and control system, typically upon the successful completion of the first three stages. The systems audit will verify the live environment against the proposed application.
The MGA mandates that after going live, a licensee must undergo a number of compliance audits of its operations performed by an approved service provider appointed by the licensee. Such audits need to be completed by the service provider within 90 days of the MGA’s notice.
A Recognition Notice is an authorisation notice issued by the Malta Gaming Authority that recognises licences issued by another Member State of the EU/EEA and that is deemed to offer similar and/or equivalent safeguards to those offered by the Maltese gaming regulations.
The Recognition Notice would have the same effect as a licence issued by the Malta Gaming Authority for the purpose of providing a gaming service or gaming supply in or from Malta.
An entity wishing to apply for a recognition notice would be required to submit the following:
- Licences currently held by the company;
- Operational declaration;
- Legal opinion;
- Information on games offered coupled with official approval issued by all relevant authorities.