Malta’s foundations are much stronger after the work that was completed to remove the jurisdiction from the FATF grey list, but challenges remain, Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) CEO Dr. Carl Brincat said.
Speaking on a panel on the first day of SiGMA Europe, Brincat said that the regulator had learned that before taking steps to innovate, that it had to make sure the groundwork had been done.
“Now that the foundations are strong we can move ahead,” he said on the panel, which focused on how Malta can retain its preeminent position amongst global iGaming jurisdictions. Brincat was appointed as head of the regulator in January last year.
Malta was removed from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey-list of jurisdictions subject to closer scrutiny in June, a year after the designation was imposed.
FATF had cited among other issues, concern over the regulatory infrastructure to combat tax evasion, the level of information on ultimate beneficial owners and the provisions for knowledge sharing with local and international bodies.
However, Brincat and other panelists all agreed that even if the lifting of the grey-list status was positive, the industry is facing headwinds from increasing regulatory scrutiny.
The panelists also expressed disappointment at the recent publication of the European Commission’s 2022 Supranational Risk Assessment report, which gave online gaming the highest risk factor rating at 4. This was for both AML risk and for terrorism financing.
In comparison, land-based casinos were given a 2 rating for AML risk.
Lack of understanding
Pontus Lindwall, president and CEO of Betsson Group said he was very disappointed at the report.
He said it appeared to be desk-top research from someone who doesn’t understand the controls imposed on the gaming industry.
Other panelists also expressed concern at the ranking, saying it didn’t make sense that despite ever increasing regulation, the perceived risk level had risen.
Although the industry in Malta and across Europe is facing greater scrutiny, the panelists agreed the jurisdiction is in a strong position moving forward.
Enrico Bradamante, chairman of iGen, pointed to the critical mass that had been achieved in Malta, which has led to a strong base of skill sets and knowledge.
“The whole ecosystem is second to none,” he said, adding that for companies located here, there are many more advantages than just an MGA license.
14 – 18 November for SiGMA Europe
Being one of the first European countries to regulate the gaming sector, Malta is a hub of global business. With a plethora of prospects for both investors and entrepreneurs looking to shape the future, SiGMA’s Malta Week event will bring together industry giants among the affiliates, operators, and suppliers of the sector.