Malta’s Principal Permanent Secretary visits MGA office amid time of change for the regulator

Malta’s Principal Permanent Secretary visits MGA office amid time of change for the regulator

Malta’s Principal Permanent Secretary Tony Sultana has visited the Malta Gaming Authority office at SmartCity. MGA Chairperson Ryan Pace and CEO Carl Brincat discussed the Authority’s strategy with Sultana, and presented ongoing and future projects for the regulator.

His visit comes at a time of change for the Authority, which in its recent 2021 report said it is now seeking to take a different approach to regulation, issuing fewer license cancellations and suspensions while making better use of administrative penalties and warnings to discipline licensees.

As a result of this new approach, the MGA canceled seven licenses and did not suspend a single license in the 2021 period, compared to the 14 canceled and 11 suspended in 2019. Brincat had said that the Authority is “laying the groundwork” for improvements that will be seen in the years to come, moving towards “leaner and more efficient processes.”

Sultana’s visit to the MGA headquarters took place last Wednesday, where he was welcomed by the regulator’s Executive Committee and staff. At the premises, the Principal Permanent Secretary was given a tour of the office and talked to a number of employees across all departments about their work, as well as the operations and challenges of each department.

Among the changes the MGA is working on is a proposed set of amendments to the regulator’s player protection rules. A period of consultation on the regulations was opened earlier this month and runs until October, Monday 24, extended from a prior Friday 14 deadline. “This extension will allow all stakeholders additional time to thoroughly review the amendments and provide feedback,” the MGA said.

The amendments proposed that are currently being subject to consultation delve into the licensees’ obligations regarding their responsible gaming policies and procedures, and the introduction of five markers of harm that must be considered when determining effective measures and processes to detect and address problem gambling.

Provisions relating to real-money reinforcement and staff training have also been included in the proposed amendments. The new rules are being suggested on the basis of a review of the key sections of the Player Protection Directive carried out “by an expert in the field,” and on the basis of the Authority’s own research and experience garnered “through the Responsible Gaming Unit’s audits and familiarization visits.”