In the latest crackdown against irresponsible gambling operators, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has suspended the B2C licenses of SFJL Holding Limited and Green Feather Online Limited. Apart from that, the Maltese regulator has also cancelled the B2C permit of EGMIT Elite Limited primarily because the operator failed to fulfil its financial commitments towards the authority. The suspension and cancelation are effective immediately. However, all three decisions can be appealed as per the Gambling Law of Malta.
The Maltese gambling market is one of the most active and competitive markets in the world. Due to the ease of operations and favourable gambling laws, several operators have shifted their headquarters to Malta over the past few years. According to the latest reports, Malta houses about 10 percent of the total iGaming operators worldwide, highlighting the fact that the nation’s gambling sector is one of the largest and most successful globally. The sector thrives, with the online gambling segment leading the charge and roping in the most revenue. Regulating such a massive market can be a tedious task. Still, the MGA has been functioning optimally, keeping an eye on the licensed operators while simultaneously fighting the unlicensed ones who try to enter and threaten the integrity of the Maltese gambling market. The task of regulating the market is challenging because over 300 licensed iGaming companies are operating in the MGA’s jurisdiction. The regulator has to monitor the activity of each operator to check if their respective ongoing operations comply with all sections of the nation’s Gaming Act.
Malta-based iGaming companies with international operations received a boost earlier this year when the Maltese government approved Bill 55. The new amendment enhanced the protection of these operators against prosecution outside its jurisdiction. With every passing day, more and more online gambling operators are looking to shift their base to Malta, where the online casino market is expected to grow by almost 8 percent in the next four years. Meanwhile, the online sports betting market is also going strong. The projected growth of the segment over the next four years is about 7 percent. Both these segments are expected to generate a market volume of approximately €360 million ($395 million). All these positive aspects are quite lucrative and attract more companies regularly. The MGA has the authority to issue, suspend, and revoke gambling permits in its jurisdiction. Malta has two sets of licenses – one for B2C gambling operators and the other for B2B gambling solution providers. The process of obtaining a permit is similar to what is followed in almost every regulated gambling market.
The Maltese regulator has issued over 300 iGaming licenses to operators to date, but it has also suspended and cancelled many due to multiple violations. After paying a license fee, operators must follow all operational rules that are specified in the Maltese Gaming Act. Most operators comply with these regulations and have never had any problems with the MGA. However, a few companies have violated one or more sections of the Gaming Act and have been reprimanded according to the severity of their violations. Recently, SFJL Holding Limited and Green Feather Online Limited breached the code and saw their gambling permits suspended with immediate effect. In another case, the B2C gambling license of EGMIT Elite Limited was cancelled because the severity of the violation was higher compared to the breaches caused by SFJL and Green Feather Online. Article 43 of the Gaming Act of Malta will allow all three operators to appeal the decision. The penalty can be reduced, or the decision can be overturned. However, in this case, the possibility of any operator appealing the penalty is quite low.
Gaming Act sections that the three operators breached
Green Feather Online has been operating legally in Malta for almost four years. The company is based in the same country and has offered online casinos via domains like Bcasino.com, Boocasino.com, Galacticwins.com, and Mrfortune.com. The operator collaborated with renowned solutions providers like Evolution Gaming, NetEnt, NextGen, Playtech, Quickspin, and more to bolster its online casino. However, Green Feather Online violated Article 41 of the Gaming Authorisations and Compliance Directive (Directive 3 of 2018). The operator failed to submit attested management account details for the first six months of their financial year. Additionally, Green Feather also failed to provide the MGA with an audited set of financial statements prepared and audited in accordance with international financial reporting standards, which eventually led to the suspension of its gambling permit.
SJFL complied with Article 41 but breached multiple subsections in section 9 of the Regulations. The operator was in direct violation of Regulations 9 (1) (c), (k), and (j), which revolve around the authorization of any material change and regulatory instruments. The MGA did not reveal further details of the violation but has confirmed the suspension of SJFL’s Type 2 license that the operator has held since 2017. Like SJFL, EGMIT Elite also violated Regulation 9. The Elite24bet Casino-owned operator breached Regulation 9 (1) (b), (c), (d), (i), (l), and (m). This included failure to comply with a regulatory instrument and failure to discharge financial commitments that were in place when the permit was issued. The MGA not only canceled EGMIT Elite’s license but also filed a police report and initiated liquidation proceedings against the operator.
Tipster and Totup have lost their licenses in the last two months
The disappointing phase for Tipster Limited continued after the operator lost its gaming license in Malta shortly after its German license was revoked by the Gemeinsame Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL). According to reports, Tipster is wrapping up its operations and allegedly initiated insolvency proceedings. Shortly after the raids and chaos in Germany, the MGA suspended the operator’s license with immediate effect.
The MGA has dealt with several operators who have violated the Gaming Act. Most of the violations have been related to payments that are owed to the regulator. One of these violations surfaced about two months ago when Totup System’s Class 3 B2C license was cancelled after the operator failed to fulfil its financial commitments to the regulator. The MGA initially suspended the permit, allowing Totup 20 days to complete the payment and retain its license. However, the operator failed to comply with the notice and saw its permit cancelled.
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