Malta has postponed the introduction of its new Gaming Act until 1 August so it can review recommendations from the European Commission (EC) and comments from an EU member state about the new regulatory framework.
The Gaming Act was due to be implemented on 1 July but a delay was announced on Wednesday after a detailed opinion issued by the EC.
The new gambling law is expected to strengthen the Malta Gaming Authority's supervisory role, specifically the compliance and enforcement functions, in line with developments relating to anti-money laundering and combating the funding of terrorism.
Silvana Zammit, a gaming law specialist at Malta’s Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates, said the Act is also expected to change the structure of the law, simplify licensing procedures and improve player protection. The bill, as it now stands, may also open up the possibility of introducing virtual currency and distribution ledger technology regulations in the future.
The Act appears to be theme-oriented (definitions, authorisations, taxes, player protection) rather than product- or sector-orientated (land-based gaming, online gaming etc). This means that “a remote gaming operator of games of chance, for example, under the new law, is not able to refer to a particular text such as the Remote Gaming Regulations today, wherein the major rules that affect it are provided for it,” Zammit told Gambling Insider.
The new legal structure also brings together laws for regulating all gambling activities, including land-based and online, into one body of law, creating a more streamlined and cohesive legal regime.
The licensing procedure is expected to be simplified, with just two licenses available, B2B and B2C. The B2C license will still be categorised in accordance with the game type provided, but the new law is expected to eliminate the requirement of a new license per class of games. This means that a licensee with a B2C license can add new game types without having to go through the entire licensing procedure.
The duration of licenses is likely to be extended from five to 10 years to give operators more long-term stability, Zammit said.
With the introduction of the new Gaming Act, the point of supply gaming tax has been scrapped and licensing fees have been introduced.
Small start-ups will have to do new calculations and adjust their budgets, especially in cases of shifts from a fixed point of supply tax (for example, casino operators) and a relatively low gaming license fee of €8,500 ($9.850) to a fixed license fee of €25,000 and a variable license levied on gaming revenue generated, Zammit added.
The planned amendments to the new Gaming Act include increased consumer protection standards, responsible gaming measures, and improved reporting of suspicious sports betting transactions in the fight against the manipulation of sports competitions.