The Malta Gaming Authority (the “MGA”) has taken various measures in order to ensure that regulatory obligations continue to be abided by regulated entities during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this respect, a number of Press Releases and Circulars were issued, the contents of which will be outlined below.
In a statement published on the 18th of March 2020, the MGA informed the public that in terms of L.N. 76 of 2020, entitled “Closure of Places Open to the Public Order, 2020”, all bingo halls, casinos, gaming parlours, and lotto booths, have been closed to the public for an indefinite period.
The MGA also made reference to the guidelines issued by Maltco Lotteries regarding the games offered and the payment of winnings thereto.
In a statement issued on the 25th of March 2020, the MGA referred to licensees’ obligation to submit audited financial statements by not later than 180 days after the end of their financial year end.
The MGA recognizes that the difficulties the COVID-19 pandemic has caused and therefore has decided to extend the deadline for the submission of audited financial statements for those licensees whose financial year ends between December 2019 and March 2020, to the end of October 2020.
The MGA however noted that notwithstanding this extension, licensees are still required to submit unaudited accounts by not later than 180 days after the end of their financial year end.
In light of the difficulties the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about, the MGA has issued a statement highlighting the fact that this situation could also be particularly distressing to players.
In this respect, the MGA reminded all its licensees that, in accordance with the Commercial Communications Regulations, all commercial communications must be socially responsible, especially in light of the current situation. It added that any direct or indirect reference to Covid-19, or any related circumstance, would be considered to amount to a breach of this regulation.
Amongst other requirements, the MGA emphasised that at no point must any commercial communications made by licensees, directly or indirectly:
In a statement issued on the 6th of April 2020, the MGA recognizes the fact that sports worldwide was disrupted to the COVID-19 pandemic, and consequentially, the betting sector is facing unprecedented challenges. The MGA added that since sporting events came to a complete halt, licensees were looking into alternative events on which players can bet on, including some having different risk profiles to those traditionally offered. These may include sporting events which are not run to the same professional degree such as amateur or minor leagues.
The MGA also stated that amongst the alternatives gaming operators are turning to, e-sports is gaining significant traction. However, the MGA added that while many e-sports events are organised in a highly professional manner, others may not.
In order to safeguard the integrity of such events, and warn betting operators of the risks involved, the MGA recommended the following:
To keep up to date with the latest developments on the legal ramifications of COVID-19, check out our dedicated website page or contact us on [email protected].