Malta’s Bill 55 has received its fair share of attention in recent months. In April of this year, it was tabled in the Maltese Parliament, a proposed amendment to the Gaming Act of Malta that aims to protect the gaming companies licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) from legal actions taken by foreign players or authorities. Bill 55 was unanimously approved in Parliament in June 2023. It is now Article 56A of the Malta Gaming Act.
The Article states that no action shall lie against a licence holder or its officers or key persons for matters relating to the provision of a gaming service, or against a player for the receipt of such gaming service, if such action conflicts with or undermines the legality of the provision of gaming services in or from Malta by virtue of a licence issued by the MGA. Furthermore, the Article states that Maltese courts shall refuse recognition and enforcement of any foreign judgment or decision given upon an action of this type.
Criticism of Article 56A
Article 56A has been criticised by some Austrian and German lawyers who represent players who have sued Maltese gaming companies for offering their services in violation of Austrian and German gaming laws, more specifically to recoup money lost. The lawyers claim that the amendment is an attempt by the Maltese government to undermine European rule of law and block the fundamental rights of EU citizens and residents. They have written to the European Commission to express their concerns and request intervention.
Speaking during a SiGMA podcast recently, Antonio Ghio, senior partner at Fenech & Fenech Advocates said that Article 56A “is crystallising the long-standing public policy in Malta vis-a-vis the provision of gaming services from Malta through a Maltese gaming license from a point of supply principle”. This has always been adopted by the MGA and reflects Malta’s position vis à vis the freedom of movement of goods and services within the EU. He added that, in practice, the new amendment “provides that the Maltese operators should be protected through the Maltese regulatory landscape especially when we’re looking at the enforcement of foreign judgments which do not fully reflect the basic principles and pillars on which the Maltese regulatory regime is based.”
Echoing this point, a spokesperson for the MGA, in comments to SiGMA News added that “the scope of the amendments enacted into law is highly restricted. The law does not automatically apply to all foreign judgments and it does not, in any way, prevent legal action from being taken against a Maltese licensee. It therefore should be emphasised that not every judgment relating to the operations of gaming operators with an MGA licence would be in violation of Maltese public policy.”
Malta spearheading gaming regulation
Malta has been a pioneer on the international map when it comes to the regulation of legal online gaming, markedly before becoming a full EU member state. Ghio added that gaming is an area of substantive law which “is still not harmonised at a European level… The established position today is that through judgments and decisions of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) we saw that member states are free to impose their own national localised regulatory frameworks when it comes to the provision of gaming services.”
Malta’s long-standing position over the years has been that the provision of online gaming throughout Europe should be protected under the fundamental freedoms. These include the freedom of movement of goods and services. However, “there were ECJ judgments which basically stipulated that member states have a right to impose their own national regimes for various reasons including player protection and consumer legislation.” The complexity of the current situation, explained Ghio, is that “on one side we have a situation where the underlying substantive law is not harmonised. On the other side we have a long-established heritage as far as EU legislation is concerned when it comes to mutual recognition of court judgments. We have the Brussels 1 Recast Regulation which provides that a decision which is published from a court in a member state could be enforced in another member state.” This complexity has led to some circles voicing criticism targeted at Article 56A, as detailed above.
Ghio elaborated that “when a foreign member state is applying its own national laws through its own national courts and have a judgment promulgated which goes against a Maltese gaming company, one could dare to say that indirectly they are trying to enforce that specific regulatory regime outside of their shores through the mutual recognition of judgment. Referring specifically to Austria, Ghio explained that the jurisdiction has a gaming “regime which is monopolistic in nature”. Referring to gaming related court cases, Ghio added that “the Austrian courts repeatedly have refused to refer certain matters up to the European Court of Justice”. Ghio referred to the court cases against Maltese licenced operators, where “the absolute majority of these decisions in Austria relate to players seeking to recoup their losses.”
Enshrining public policy into law
In comments to SiGMA News, MGA commented that “The legislator’s intention behind the introduction of Article 56A is to enshrine into law the long-standing public policy of Malta in relation to the gaming sector.” It added, “It is important to note that the Maltese law does not create additional or separate grounds for refusing to recognise or enforce judgments to those already established under EU regulations (the Brussels I Recast Regulation). It is simply an interpretation of the ordre public grounds for refusal envisaged in said EU regulation.” To this end, Ghio commented that “the whole discussion now is determining what is public policy”. It is important to clarify that the protection which Article 56A is providing is limited to Maltese license holders and their officers and there is no specific retroactivity written in the Article.
Additionally, Ghio clarified that “under the Maltese Constitution there is a specific principle which is that the state has an obligation to protect private Enterprise in Malta and that is Article 56A is attempting to do.” Ghio explained that in recent years, the European commission has put gaming law on the back burner whereas in Malta, gaming regulation was prioritised. He added that whilst it is good news that the European Commission is looking into the current situation in the industry, it should be done consistently across member states and not exclusively for Malta.
In a recent statement published on its site, the German Gaming Regulator (Joint Gambling Authority of the Länder or GGL) referred to Article 56A as a “protective shield”, which is “unlikely to be compatible with European requirements for the recognition of decisions”. Referring to these comments, in particular the analogy of the shield, Ghio commented that throughout the centuries, Malta has had a long history of acting as a shield protecting others who have made its shores their home. The “protective shield” analogy of Article 56A defending Maltese interests and the interests of those who choose to conduct their business within the robust regulatory framework of the Malta Gaming Act is indeed fitting.
Join the upcoming SiGMA event in Curacao
SiGMA Curacao is less than 2 weeks away. It will be held in from the 25 – 28 September. The event is hosted by the Ministry of Finance in association with SiGMA Curacao
Don’t miss this exclusive opportunity to be part of SiGMA Curacao, where you can gain valuable insights into the new gambling legislation, explore the thriving iGaming industry, and connect with key players in Curacao. Check out all the details here.
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They will adopt and implement the ESIC Codes in their operations. In doing so, GT Sports Leagues joins a large group of members in a unified industry wide approach to competitive integrity.(more…)
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About SiGMA Europe - MaltaSiGMA Group has announced the postponement of its Europe summit, which was planned to be held in Malta on 17-19 November 2020. The show will now open its doors early next year in February, running from the 16-18th, making it the first event to headline the 2021 gaming calendar.
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Arranged in the 19th century for the first time, Oktoberfest is still one of the most famous and captivative festivals on the globe! Every year it brings together millions of beer-lovers who have fun on the Munich streets. Due to a pandemic, the open-air Oktoberfest-2021 was canceled but it’s not a reason to miss a bright holiday! BGaming invites players to celebrate it with the Fruit Million slot!
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Join us for the next SiGMA iGathering networking event in Barcelona on the 21st of September at 19:30. Indulge in a delish dinner at the El Restaurant Barceloneta while interacting with like-minded individuals as well as the region’s top industry leaders.
Trans World Hotels and Entertainment (TWHE) has over 20 years operational experience in the Czech land-based casino market offering services to both Austrian and German based players. Palasino will be an MGA licensed brand offering casino, live casino, and poker and is set to launch in early 2022 on the Pragmatic Solutions platform.
Fast Track CRM will provide the operator with the capabilities to use real-time, on-site engagements to communicate with their online players and to use rich data and detailed segmentation to personalise the player experience.[caption id="attachment_244354" align="alignright" width="176"] Simon Lidzén, Co-Founder and CEO of Fast Track[/caption]
Simon Lidzén, Co-Founder and CEO of Fast Track, commented: “We are excited to be part of Palasino’s launch journey and look forward to seeing how they will use our platform’s capabilities. Their vast experience in the land-based casino industry will be a great foundation to move into the online space and I’m sure they will bring some really interesting ideas from that world to how they will engage online players.”
Colin Stewart, CEO of Palasino, said: “Fast Track is the perfect partner to work with on our player engagement for Palasino. The platform’s real-time foundation creates exciting opportunities for on-site engagement and the existing integration with the Pragmatic Solutions platform means we are confident that we will have all the data we need to create a very personal experience for our players.”
Save the dates for Malta Week:
For the first time ever SiGMA Group is bringing its 4 leading shows together for the mother of all conferences. From the 15th to 19th November, SiGMA, alongside AGS and AIBC will bring the best in the business to a first-class meeting point at the Malta Fairs and Convention Centre (MFCC). Malta Week is a chance for investors to leverage the significant crossover potential for multi-faceted business deals and to double down on opportunities to connect with some of the leading affiliates, policymakers, thought leaders, suppliers, and operators in the industry. Register now!
GrooveGaming’s pulsating portfolio will be featured on InfinGame’s platform. InfinGame’s partners can now access an ever-expanding collection of games from latest releases to time-worn classics and get plug-and-play access to the world's best gambling brands powered by the latest technologies.(more…)
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Pragmatic Play, a leading content provider for the gaming industry, is set to kickstart 2020 with a six-month Network Promotion, worth €1,500,000 in cash prizes.(more…)
Affilka has already shown some amazing results working with a variety of brands operating on the SoftSwiss online casino platform. And now, it keeps on gaining momentum and actively expanding its third-party client portfolio. As in Q4 of 2020 alone, Affilka onboarded 4 new third-party clients and that is just the beginning.
Affilka is an affiliate marketing platform developed by SoftSwiss. A reliable, safe and trustworthy tool for iGaming operators to manage, track and analyze their affiliates and their marketing performance in real-time. The solution allows to unite several casinos or sportsbook brands and products under one referral program as well as offering automated payouts to affiliates via built-in payment processing methods, an advanced commission constructor, powerful reporting and in-depth analytics.
Anastasia Borovaya, Affilka Product Owner at SoftSwiss said: “2021 has just begun and here comes one more astonishing achievement for Affilka! Our winning combination of built-in payment processing, ultra-flexible commission constructor and easy-to-use interface will aim at making new AffRepublic a highly efficient affiliate program. Looking forward to the start of our very fruitful cooperation with WildTokyo!”
WildTokyo commented on the partnership: “For a long time we were looking and thinking about which software provider to choose for launching our business and Affiliate Program 'AffRepublic'. After much deliberation, a decision was made in favor of SoftSwiss. Their platform combines smart technology with stylish simplicity and ease of use, as well as all the necessary functionality for effective work and cooperation with partners. We’re excited to be partnering with Affilka and looking forward to the start of our cooperation”.
SiGMA adds Hindi as its 7th language: SiGMA Group is excited to announce the launch of a 7th language to its website. Users can find all content, including the SiGMA News website, in Hindi. The latest addition to SiGMA’s portfolio of languages will run alongside the recently launched French, Russian, Mandarin, Spanish, and Portuguese content, and aims to cater to SiGMA’s global vision.
The iGaming industry exhibition that will take place in Malta from 15th to 20th of November. Content for crypto casinos, the interest in which is growing literally day by day, will be in the focus of the provider. All attendees will have a chance to get acquainted with the first “crash” mechanics game in the BGaming collection called Space XY. With a simple interface but highly entertaining playing process, the title meets the latest iGaming trends and is going to gain popularity in a blink of an eye.[caption id="attachment_283590" align="alignleft" width="117"] Alexandr Shavel, Head of BizDev Department at BGaming.[/caption]
“SiGMA is considered one of the largest iGaming shows. We expect to have fruitful days in Malta and we’re extremely glad to showcase Space XY. It’s a completely new product for us. We follow all the market tendencies and we are sure that Space XY will be in demand! We’re also working on a set of crypto dice games and will be glad to offer operators new versions of Plinko, Rocket Dice, Head & Tails. Of course, we have prepared some special offers that will surprise our clients,” noted Alexandr Shavel, Head of BizDev Department at BGaming.
Hundreds of exhibitors will also get the opportunity to get acquainted with top studio titles including so-called Brand Exclusive games. The solution which is already well-estimated by the industry leaders will be presented at the BGaming booth. Each Brand Exclusive title is customized according to the operator's requirements and preferences giving the opportunity to embody creative ideas and follow the casino design features. It allows the operator to increase the player's loyalty to the game and boost the turnover. Stake, Bitstarz, PlayAmo, VBet, and other reputable operators have Brand Exclusive titles in their collections.
For the past two years, BGaming has shown rapid growth. MGA license received in March 2021, allowed the provider to boost its international reach and widen its partner’s network by giving access to the various portfolio of online casino games. The studio has also launched Help Center for clients that allowed to accelerate the integration process and make it easier.
BGaming is a fast-growing game provider converting gaming into gaming. Thanks to an expert team and a player-driven approach the studio creates innovative and engaging products featured on reputable platforms and 550+ online casinos worldwide. BGaming is the world’s first to support cryptocurrencies and offer Provably Fair games. Today the brand's portfolio includes 65+ products with HD graphics and a clear user interface for every device.
Next up: Malta Week
Don’t miss out on amazing networking opportunities and exclusive industry insights at Malta Week. Four leading shows will bring the best of the business back-to-back to a first-class meeting point. Malta Week will consist of SiGMA, AIBC, Med-Tech World and AGS, each presenting the top developments of their focal industries.
The cross-collaboration of each brand makes Malta Week the number one destination for leading think-tanks of the gaming sector, emerging tech, digital health, and digital marketing. The middle of the Mediterranean is the perfect place for multi-faceted business deals and face-to-face conversations with leading affiliates, policymakers, and thought leaders.
SlotStars, a brand-new online casino brand that promises to make players the star of the show, has gone live to players in regulated markets including the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and all Malta jurisdictions via the award-winning SkillOnNet platform.(more…)
Upon receiving spectacular feedback and genuine excitement from those involved, BetConstruct is ready to repeat the success with East & West: New Wave which will take place on June 1 with dozens of exhibitors, speakers and thousands of visitors.(more…)
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