Maltese government reportedly contemplating reversal of policy for Malta-licensed gambling firms

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is reportedly revisiting its position on the Macolin Convention, signaling a potential change in direction concerning the adoption of the agreement, which impacts the definition of illicit sports betting. According to local media reports, the authority is seeking legal guidance on the implications of endorsing the convention, which it had previously refrained from since 2014.

If ratified, the Macolin Convention would modify the definition of illegal sports betting. Under the revised interpretation, sports betting websites operating from Malta and providing services to jurisdictions where such activities are prohibited would be considered as “illegal“.

Presently, sports betting websites operating under the MGA license are not obligated to prevent players from countries with gambling restrictions from accessing their platforms. Instead, the onus falls on players to opt out themselves.

MGA has approached Van Bael & Bellis, an international law firm headquartered in Brussels and London specializing in EU and national competition, to consult on the potential repercussions of Malta signing and ratifying the Macolin Convention. As per The Shift, MGA has issued a direct order contract worth €22,750 ($24,683) for the consultation.

This change in stance follows international advisors’ recommendation for Malta to embrace the convention, seen as a gesture of goodwill towards the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) during its evaluation of whether Malta should be placed on the FATF’s grey list.

The potential shift in strategy coincides with the enactment of a new gaming bill in June, introducing amendments to the existing Gaming Act to protect the gaming community from legal action beyond the nation’s borders.

The law stipulates that Maltese-licensed entities and their officials cannot face legal action for providing online gaming services sanctioned by the MGA, the report said. Furthermore, the bill empowers the Maltese court to deny recognition or enforcement of foreign court decisions in this context.

The new law has garnered attention within the European Union, prompting inquiries from the European Parliament and the European Commission regarding its potentially anti-competitive implications.