Operator talk: Malta to speed up changes after Italian arrests

Operator talk: Malta to speed up changes after Italian arrests

Thursday, July 30, 2015 Totally Gaming
BetUniq had its license suspended by the MGA

Malta’s gaming regulator has told TotallyGaming.com that it will act decisively after companies it had licensed were implicated in an anti money-laundering swoop by Italian police.

The Italian authorities last week arrested 41 people, seized 82 online gambling websites and froze more than €1.81bn ($2bn) of assets owned by 11 companies based in Malta, Austria, Romania, and Spain.

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has already suspended the licenses of BetUniq and Betsolutions4U, with the former founded and run by Mario Gennaro, one of the men arrested and believed to be close to the 'Ndrangheta criminal organisation.

While Malta is just one of the jurisdictions implicated, an MGA spokesman said that it planned to speed up planned changes to its regulations.

“The MGA was already undergoing a number of strategic reforms and changes in its internal processes as announced in the MGA’s 2014 annual report by the Chairman,” the spokesperson told TotallyGaming.com. “This includes an overhaul of the regulatory framework to make it more innovative and cutting edge for today’s realities.

“The events of last week may result in the fast tracking of certain changes which were already in the pipeline.”

Malta is considered one of Europe’s most reputable locations for the remote gaming industry, with the likes of Unibet, Betsson and Interwetten based there. Last week it issued a statement in which it said it would “strongly enforce its rules and regulations to sustain its reputation and will aggressively bring in further measures to combat this type of licence violation”.

The MGA has suspended the licences of six companies in the last week, having taken such action just once in the first six months of 2015. BetUniq had been operating in Malta since 2011, with Betsolutions4U licensed in the jurisdiction three years ago.

The MGA has vowed to help the Italian authorities with any information they require and has also publicly offered support for any customers that may have funds deposited with companies that have had their licenses suspended.

“The request for collaboration from the Italian authorities was received by the Malta Executive Police and the Attorney General’s office in order to execute the European Arrest Warrants issued by the Italian authorities for alleged crimes taking place in Italy,” the spokesperson said.

“The MGA cooperated and will continue to cooperate in full in the investigations underway.

"The number of complaints or requests for information from players of the Maltese licences/companies has been minimal so far. The MGA’s player support unit is available and ready to offer all the support to the affected players and provide up to date information.”

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