The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has cancelled Arabmillionaire Limited’s license after the local operator was responsible for several breaches of regulations. The regulator suspended the operator’s license last year in October after it failed to comply with multiple obligations, including the failure to discharge financial commitments for its legal operation in the jurisdiction. Since the suspension, Arabmillionaire Limited has not fulfilled the obligations mentioned above and forced the MGA to cancel its B2C license.
Malta is every gambling entity’s preferred jurisdiction, which has turned it into an international hub for the iGaming industry, with a robust gaming framework that began in 2004. The MGA is considered a flagship authority within the gambling industry, and the Maltese Gaming License enables private operators to provide iGaming and online sports betting in or from within Malta. The MGA issues permits for B2B and B2C gambling services. There are four types of licenses in Malta. Class 1 is granted for operating online casinos and other games of chance. Class 2 is issued to operators who offer online sports betting. Operators offering bingo, betting exchanges, betting pools and poker rooms can obtain the Class 3 license, while Class 4 is specifically for the B2B segment, where gambling software and solutions providers are looking to collaborate with B2C operators to create a new platform or add more games to their collection. Suppose an operator or solutions provider intends to procure a gambling license in Malta, then it has to pay a sum between €25,000 to €500,000, depending on the permit type and the size of the operator.
Malta provides permits for a wide range of iGaming activities, including online casinos, online sports betting, and online poker. Industry forecasts predict a global online gambling market value of $93 billion by 2023. Malta is a key player, with a massive ten percent of the world’s online gaming companies registered in Malta. Malta’s legal framework is designed to promote gambling as an export industry and is based on an ‘open-window’ concept. There is no numerus clausus (closed number) on the number of online gambling permits that the Maltese regulator can issue. Since the gambling supply chain is comprehensively regulated, compared to other jurisdictions, Malta’s mechanisms and measures for monitoring and supervising gambling activities are broader. The taxation system of Malta is also quite favourable for gambling entities as the low corporate tax rate is 35 percent. In addition, a tax refund system can reduce the tax rate to a minimum of five percent. Earlier this year, the parliament also passed the controversial Bill 55, which provides legal protection to Malta-licensed online gambling operators offering their services in other regulated jurisdictions.
Despite creating an operator-centric environment in its jurisdiction, the MGA is a strict regulator and ensures the compliance of all licensed operators with the gambling code of the country. This code also complies with the European gambling standards in every European jurisdiction where gambling is legal and regulated. In its long history, the Maltese regulator has suspended and cancelled many gambling licenses after the operators failed to fulfil their obligations under the Maltese Gaming Compliance and Enforcement Regulations. Recently, the Authority revoked the B2C license of local iGaming operator Arabmillionaire Limited. The operator has been active in the Maltese gambling market since 2017. However, it landed in trouble last year in August when it failed to fulfil regulatory obligations and discharge financial commitments and violated the anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing regulations. Arabmillionaire requested the MGA to freeze its license, stating that the company was in the midst of a significant restructuring process. The regulator acknowledged and approved the operator’s request and suspended its B2C permit in October last year.
A year after the suspension of its license, Arabmillionaire has failed to rectify the situation. The MGA has labelled all communication attempts with the operator as “futile” and proceeded to cancel the operator’s permit. The revoked B2C license is not the only loss for the local iGaming operator, as it must complete all financial commitments to its customers and the Authority. The annual licensing period of Arabmillionaire Limited commences on June 13 every year, and its annual fee is €25,000. Since the operator failed to pay the fee for 2022 and the current year, it is liable to pay €50,000 to the MGA. The operator has a 20-day window to appeal this decision, but it has five-working days deadline to pay the outstanding sum of €50,000 to the regulator. Arabmillionaire will get no more than a week to complete the transaction. If it fails to do so, the Maltese regulator will take the next step and may commence legal proceedings against the local iGaming operator. The MGA has also instructed the operator to remit all players’ funds back to their source accounts.
Two Licenses Suspended and One Cancelled in August
Apart from illegal gambling operators, the MGA also has to deal with legitimate irresponsible gambling operators in its jurisdiction. Under the Gambling Laws of Malta are lenient rules for licensed operators and some obligations that must be fulfilled. If all criteria are met, a licensed operator can function like a well-oiled machine. However, many companies falter and end up knowingly or unknowingly violating the Maltese gambling code. The regulator will issue a warning first, but if the violations do not cease, it is forced to suspend or cancel the operator’s gambling permit.
Earlier this year, three licensed operators fell in the crosshairs of the MGA after multiple violations. The guilty operators included SFJL Holding Limited, Green Feather Online Limited, and EGMIT Elite Limited. The former two entities saw their B2C licenses getting suspended, while the MGA canceled the latter’s permit as it failed to complete its financial commitments towards the regulator. SFJL and Green Feather can rectify their errors and re-activate their respective licenses, but it was the end of the road for EGMIT Elite as the MGA initiated liquidation proceedings and also filed a police report against it.
Tipster Limited’s Licenses Suspended by the MGA
Established over 13 years ago, Tipster Limited was active in the B2B and B2C segments of gambling. The operator was active in two countries – Germany and Malta. However, earlier this year, speculation about the company’s financial condition indicated it may declare insolvency soon. In Germany, following a lengthy investigation and a few unannounced raids, the online gambling license of Tipster Limited was revoked.
Shortly after the German Gambling Authority, Gemeinsamen Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL), cancelled the operator’s license, the MGA suspended the B2B and B2C permits of the operator. The suspension kicked in towards the end of June, and Tipster is no longer eligible to offer gambling services to people in Germany or Malta.
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