COVID-19 Update: Measures and notices relating to the gambling industry

COVID-19

06 Apr 2020

Last updated: 6 April 2020

The Malta Gaming Authority (“MGA”) is issuing notices to keep licensees abreast of measures implemented by it in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This is a summary of the announcements made by the MGA to date:

Increased betting activities on esports and amateur or minor league games

As mitigation measures around COVID-19 cause cancellations of most sporting events and leagues across the globe, betting operators are moving towards offering their services on events with different risk profiles to those traditionally offered. These include betting on amateur or minor league sporting events and betting on esports.

In a notice published on 6 April 2020, the MGA has recognised these changed dynamics in operators’ sports betting offerings, and with the intention of safeguarding the integrity of such events and to warn betting operators of risks involved around such offerings, has made the following recommendations:

  • Due to esports events being run online, operators should consider that these events will lack the standard integrity checks which are normally carried out.
  • Matches should not be pre-recorded.
  • Operators’ risk team(s) should be aware that esports matches may not be broadcast in real time and there may be a pre-set delay between the actual match and the public broadcast.
  • Operators should ensure that their customers can distinguish between esports and virtual sports (determined by a random number generator).
  • When deciding on betting markets, operators should have regard to the integrity controls in place for tournaments and the skill level(s) of the participants.
  • Operators should obtain data on the participants and officials involved in the relevant esports events from the tournament organisers or from public information.
  • Betting integrity and fraud checks should be upheld by operators. This includes ensuring that tournament participants and officials are not placing bets.
  • Suspicious betting activity should be reported to the MGA.
  • Suspicious activity which is not related to betting should be reported to the corresponding Sports Governing Body and/or event organiser.

Submissions to the MGA

Softcopies will do for the time being

The MGA is temporarily accepting all submissions in soft copy. However, certified hard copies should nonetheless be submitted and will be processed by the MGA when operational resources permit.  

Extension of deadline for submission of audited financial statements

The MGA is extending the deadline for submission to the end of October 2020 for those licensees whose financial year ended or ends between December 2019 and March 2020. Licensees must nonetheless submit unaudited accounts by no later than 180 days after the end of their financial year.  This will facilitate the Authority with keeping track of the licensee’s financial standing. 

Commercial communications / advertising 

The MGA is stressing the importance for licensees to continue to adhere to their obligations under the Commercial Communications Regulations (“Regulations”) and to ensure that all advertising and promotional material made visible or sent directly to players is socially responsible.

Furthermore, the MGA is also prohibiting licensees from referring to COVID-19 or any other related circumstance in their commercial communications. In a communication released on 26 March 2020, the MGA said it will consider any such reference amount to a breach of the Regulations. Moreover, the MGA has urged its licensees to relay this information to any of their affiliates and to make sure that their brands are not being promoted in an unethical and socially irresponsible manner. 

Bingo halls, casinos, gaming parlours and lotto booths to remain closed until further notice

On 17 March 2020, a Legal Notice 76 of 2020 entitled Closure of Places Open to the Public Order 2020 was introduced ordering the closure of all bingo halls, casinos, gaming parlours, and lotto booths to the public for an indefinite period.

Operators of such outlets directly affected by this measure should consider whether they may be eligible for financial assistance.

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The information above does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. For any specific matters, please reach out to your usual WH Partners contact or write to us on covid19@whpartners.eu