Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) - A Brief Introduction
Established in 2001, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is the regulatory body for almost all forms of gambling that falls under its jurisdiction. This includes land-based locations such as casinos, amusement arcades, betting offices and lotteries as well as online gambling including business-to-customer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) services.
Foreseeing the rapid growth in online gaming and betting, the MGA became one of the first to regulate the activity of online gambling operators and more importantly offer players a secure environment. It all started with the 2001 Lotteries and Other Games Act which has since been complemented by anti-money laundering, responsible gambling and crime protection directives.
With Malta being part of the European Union, it allowed the MGA to offer its gaming licences in any European country and thus creating a vast regulated market with over 500 million people. This was especially important for online casinos as they take players from virtually any country that is not prohibiting online gambling. Also, players from some monopoly countries (Finland) are allowed to play at the MGA- casinos. The sector has become a vital part of Malta’s economy, presently representing more than 10% of its GDP.
The MGA in 2023
Today, the MGA is much more than just a licence issuing body and has taken on an important role in protecting minors and vulnerable players, curbing illicit gambling and preventing money laundering. Below is just a small selection of their activities.
Provide a one-stop-shop for licensing
Protect minors and vulnerable persons and safeguarding players’ rights
Promote responsible gaming in a safe environment
Ensure the integrity of games and gaming devices
Collecting gaming taxes on behalf of the Government
Support the industry and technological innovation
For players, this means in clear words that signing up at a casino with an MGA licence will provide a secure atmosphere where they can enjoy their online gaming and sports betting. Clear rules and regulations ensure that operators adhere to a strict code of conduct in a regulated environment and players will be treated fairly in disputes.
The MGA will also act as a dispute resolution body where players can lodge their complaint against a casino or gaming operator if they fail to resolve the issue directly with the operator’s support or management.
The MGA Policy on Responsible Gambling
In 2014, the Malta Gambling Authority commenced three support projects to combat the effects of harmful gambling and help keep licencing in players’ interests. The Responsible Gaming Foundation, European Gaming Institute of Malta and GamingMalta are on hand to support players, the gaming industry and the MGA.
For 2020, the MGA furthered their mission with the Responsible Gaming Audit, intended to look closer at player protection compliance laid out in the regulations. This audit delves into player-casino relationships, marketing and such interactions, the effectiveness of responsible gambling tools and the overall player experience.
The current responsible gambling approach identifies vulnerable players early on and takes steps to avoid gambling harm proactively. With MGA casinos, you can be certain of tools for limiting your time and spending when you complete registration, with immediate prompts for settings. You may set daily, weekly, monthly limits along with timely pop-up reminders. Should you need support, time-outs and self-exclusion periods are ready to go at the touch of a button, along with professional guidance and support from both casino and the Malta Gambling Authority.
For players from Finland: visit Qkasinot.com – information about online casinos in Finland, in Finnish.
MGA - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. Is the MGA Malta a government agency?
Yes. The Malta Gaming Authority was founded in 2001 to regulate all forms of land-based and online gambling-related businesses.
2. How hard is it to get a gaming licence from the MGA?
Once you have drafted your business plan and lined up deals with service providers and developers, readied departments and internal systems and procedures, along with negotiating your payment gateway and internet services, you can organise a live test. Following such preparation and testing, the MGA will carry out background checks on you and anyone involved in the business ownership structure before examining the systems and considering your application. If successful, you should be financially prepared for the €25,000 licencing fee, 5% gambling tax and compliance charges along with running costs.
3. How do the Malta Gambling Authority protect players?
The MGA protect players in several ways. Casinos operating under licence mean strict adherence to legislation. Beaches of data or misplaced advertising come with heavy penalties and regulatory fines, sometimes millions of euros. The MGA will also offer direct help to problem gamblers if approached and one of the licencing conditions is for casinos to have a compliant responsible gambling program in place before launch.
4. How do the MGA check what online casinos do?
Every casino is audited for compliance regularly. New licensees will be checked at various stages within the first years of operation and further checks will be scheduled for existing licensees on an individual risk-based approach. The MGA also carry out on-site inspections of business premises.
5. What happens if an MGA licenced online casino fails a compliance audit?
Should a casino fail a compliance audit, they could be fined or have their licence suspended or, ultimately, terminated.
6. How long do the MGA grant licences for?
For successful applications, the standard licence issued by the Malta Gambling Authority is ten years.
7. How many licences do the MGA issue each year?
There is no set target or direct sales to find applicants and the number of applications can vary. In 2020, the MGA issued 68 licences.
8. Is my money safe with an MGA licenced online casino?
The short answer is yes. Firstly, being financially sound is part of licence application requirements. Secondly, 90% of players funds must be covered with funds held in EU/EEA-licensed credit, financial, or payment institutions, ensuring an extra level of security for your money.
9. Can I get direct help from the Malta Gambling Authority as an online casino player or help with problem gambling?
Yes, you can get support from the MGA directly via their website here. Besides your casino, they would be the best place to start for help against gambling harm or useful information on matters relating to MGA regulations and licenced casinos.
10. Where can I find out more about the Malta Gambling Authority and MGA licenced online casinos?
The MGA are mostly open and transparent in their operation and offer a wealth of information on a well-versed website. For the low-down on MGA casinos, check out the GMBLRS reviews for a breakdown of services, games, registration and verification, payment methods, gamification and much more.
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