MGA report: new online casino players up 56% in 2022

The MGA has reported on its gambling licence applications, actions and revenue for 2022.
The MGA has reported on its gambling licence applications, actions and revenue for 2022.

The Malta Gaming Authority has published its annual report for 2022. 

Malta.- The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has issued its 2022 annual report, detailing its actions and revenue for last year. The report shows that the number of new casino players at MGA-licensed operators rose by 56 per cent from 75,262 in 2021 to 170,303 in 2022.

The number of online active players accounts rose by 2.5 per cent from 35,459,498 to 36,388,607, surpassing the 2020 record of 36,196,001. The number of new active player accounts rose by 9 per cent from 16,498,630 to 18,095,980.

Malta gambling licences

The MGA reported that it received 41 gaming licence applications in 2022, 31 of which were issued and 21 of which were unsuccessful. The number of MGA B2C licensees fell slightly from 197 to 187, but the number of B2B licensees rose from 155 to 160. Some 155 of these held type one licences covering online casino and lotteries (154 offering casino, 26 lotteries and nine secondary lotteries), 117 holding type two licences for fixed-odds sports betting. 

Some 44 held type three licences (30 peer-to-peer betting and bingo, 12 pool betting and exchanges, 10 other peer-to-peer betting and three lottery messenger services). Meanwhile, 13 held ‘type four licences for ‘controlled skilled games.

MGA-licensed land-based casinos had 12 sports betting terminals, down from 17 in 2021, but the number of slots rose from 887 to 897, meaning that the total number of gaming devices rose from 904 to 909.

The MGA reported operating revenue of €82.2m, including the release of unclaimed player funds. That’s a rise of just under 1 per cent from €81.5m in 2021. The revenue left the regulator with a surplus of €70.2m, also up by just under 1 per cent year-on-year.

MGA enforcement actions 

The MGA said it conducted  28 compliance audits and 228 desktop reviews during 2022, accompanied by additional AML/CFT compliance examinations that are carried out by the FIAU, or by the MGA on its behalf. On the back of these, it issued 10 warnings and cancelled six licences. In addition, the MGA issued 16 administrative penalties and three regulatory settlements, with a collective total financial penalty of €179,150.

Some 25 licensees were subject to remediation and/or administrative measures by the FIAU, ranging from written reprimands to administrative penalties, based on the breaches identified during examinations carried out in previous years, including by the MGA. These amounted to just over €738,000.

Six individuals and companies were deemed by the Fit & Proper Committee to not be up to the Authority’s probity standards due to various factors, including due to the risks of money laundering or funding of terrorism.

Over 1,500 criminal probity screening checks were undertaken on individuals, shareholders and other key persons. The regulator’s Commercial Communication Committee of the MGA issued nine Letters of Breach following breaches of the Commercial Communications Regulations.

The MGA said it supported 5,280 players who requested assistance, covering most of the cases received during 2022 and the spill-over from 2021

Carl Brincat:  “Standing still is the same as moving backwards”

In his forward to the MGA report, CEO Carl Brincat highlighted that the Maltese regulator had introduced new business intelligence tools to inform its decision-making as it continues to expand its use of data and technology.

He said “These tools, coupled with the conclusion of a data strategy which will guide us over the next three years, are aligned with our commitment to base our regulatory decision-making on data and evidence.”

He added that the regulator would continue to seek to close the gap with the industry. 

He said: “We have also taken on the role of facilitating conversation on common challenges. The Authority has encouraged the industry to foster a cooperative relationship and a unified approach to common threats and challenges, which will lead to better solutions and ultimately support the sustainability of the sector.”

MGA Chairman Ryan Pace stressed that the MGA had undertaken work to reduce bureaucracy.

He said: “The work conducted in 2022, and the consequent results I have witnessed, allow me to confidently state that the Authority remains relevant, up-to-date and well-equipped to regulate, oversee and guide an innovative and ever-changing industry.”

Last month, the MGA confirmed its cancellation of Totup System’s gaming licence for failure to pay its fees. The regulator had issued a notice of cancellation after finding the online pools specialist to be in breach of regulation 10(1)(a) of Malta’s Gaming Compliance and Enforcement Regulations.

The MGA said Totup had failed to pay its licence fees for 2022 and 2023. It also breached Regulation 6 of the Gaming Licence Fees regulations by repeatedly failing to pay compliance contribution fees on time.

See also: Former Maltese PM faces media scrutiny over casino lease

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