Getting the Boot from Malta: Scurrilous Operators from Italy Removed After Licence ProbePublished March 17, 2018 by Lee R
The probe was tied to illegal money laundering by organized crime on gaming sites.
A locus of Italian licencees is not making the grade in Malta.
The decision to dismiss came down after a probe by Malta’s online gambling authority into the activities of seven Italy-based licencees.
Money Laundering Questions
The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) initiated the probe in February by sending seven licencees 20 directed questions regarding their operations, based around anti-money laundering (AML) protocols.
Probes Address Busts
The launch of the probe was a reaction to the bust of an illegal online gambling ring in Italy traced to gaming domains Bsport24.com and B28sport.com domains, both operated by Malta licencee Phoenix International Ltd, both of whom had their MGA licences revoked. The bust was part of an ongoing series of busts of Malta-licenced gambling sites linked to organized crime monikered as operation “Game Over.”
Protecting the Targets
The MGA initially held the probes confidential. It was the Italian media which revealed the problem in reporting that some Italian operators licenced in Malta were severing ties with the MGA for reasons at that point unclear.
Other Bad Actors
Other Italy-based operators whose licences in Malta have been cancelled include the LB Group Ltd’s Leaderbet.com (on February 27), with three more operators having unilaterally “terminated” their Malta licences rather than face further scrutiny: Betting Entertainment Group Ltd’s Betent.com, Pottery Mrc Ltd’s Potterbet, and Giodani Limited’s Giodani brand.
The good news is that not all MGA licencees in the probe were cancelled: the Betn1 brand of Sogno di Toloso Ltd is the first to emerge unscathed.
Betn1’s successful test was revealed through a company statement confirming “the correctness of its corporate policies aimed at protecting the consumer / player, compliance with the regulations of each country where the MGA product and the community directives against terrorism and money laundering are offered.”
More MGA Compliance
The integrity of MGA’s regulation model will be further enhanced by the impending formation of a new anti-money laundering unit the MGA has announced it will soon establish as a preventative measure against the necessity for similar probes going forward.
MGA Executive Chairman Joseph Cuschieri told Malta Today the authority was available for further collaboration with the Italian anti-mafia commission as well as any other law enforcement agency “to iron out any concerns or misunderstandings in order to keep gaming free from crime.”
Show of Unswerving Commitment
In a small-scale economy depending on gambling for some 12% of Malta’s economic output, Malta is showing effective fortitude. The priority of a clean system trumps the possibility of negative labelling, with the exonerated licencees in the probe edifying the sustainability of a Malta’s compliance-first model.