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Is the MGA Entering a New Era?

The year 2023 was pretty rough for the Malta Gaming Authority. What was once a powerful and probably the most influential authority in the online gambling industry was reduced to the class clown. 

As local authorities gained importance, the Maltese one was slowly digging its own grave. First came the infamous Macolin Convention. Long story short, it is a document that gives more power to local regulators and deems “universal” authorities like the MGA invalid. The other step in the wrong direction was the even more notorious Bill 55, which protects companies over customers. 

Yikes! Despite all that, it seems that the MGA got the message and kicked off 2024 with success. However, one can’t help but wonder whether it is for real, or just for show.

MGA Enters the Cancel Culture 

To use the language of youths, the MGA was one step from being canceled. In the summer of 2023, everything seemed to work against it. As local European authorities stood against it as one, the MGA was struggling to keep the public image neat and tidy. Still, it seems that something has changed in the way this popular authority approaches things. 

Instead of being canceled, in 2024 it became part of those who are canceling. By January 15, 2024, the authority stripped five operators of their licenses

I understand that this doesn’t seem important. After all, the UKGC does the same amount of work every week! However, I’ve been following the iGaming industry for a decade, and have never witnessed such efforts. 

The MGA was always one of those authorities that was just…there. 

It was never as diligent as the UKGC or Scandinavian watchdogs, but it was not as horrible as the so-called “Curaçao authorities”. It was an authority that put in some effort, and that’s it. 

Ultimately, it was up to the customer to read the T&C and call the shots. While this was sufficient back in 2001, two decades later, we all expect more. 

Doing the bare minimum of what you are supposed to do is not worth praise.

Did Anything Really Change?

While some praise the fact the MGA finally moved from the status quo, I still have my doubts about it. 

The fact it is prosecuting a handful of brands doesn’t mean there was a serious change of heart. Call me a skeptic, but I am used to press releases that explain what the brands did wrong. 

Just look at how efficiently the UKGC does it. You get two pages of info on everything the operator did wrong. You know all the bits and pieces. 

Besides, the authorities often use such releases as a way to warn other brands and the general public. 

The MGA often struggles to provide consistent information on why a certain brand is losing its license. For all I know, they might be selling players’ data on the dark web and doing god knows what. Let your imagination run wild. 

New Times, New Rules

At the same time, I have to cut the MGA some slack, even if I don’t feel like it. 

This regulator was one of the first who at least had some standards. It was a pioneer whose seal was a sign of fairness, integrity, and trustworthiness. 

With all that in mind, it must be said that the MGA operated on a market with zero standards. Online gambling was a novelty and completely unregulated. 

During those wild years of the iGaming industry, the ads were blatantly convincing players that bonuses were free money. Jackpot wins were promised on every corner. Payouts took ages. Standards were so low you had to look for them in the basement. Any kind of license was the good kind! 

Unfortunately for Malta, as time passed, other authorities proved to be stricter and more efficient, especially in terms of customer protection. 

In the late 2010s, the MGA started losing momentum. More and more local watchdogs popped up, stricter and more diligent than the MGA ever was. 

Malta-based brands got blacklisted, and the island authority continued to act as if nothing happened. 

Not a good look, if you ask me. 

Will Malta Sign the Macolin Convention?

Another thing that is bothering me is that Malta still hasn’t signed the Macolin Convention. 

In October 2023, it was implied that MGA might take a U-turn and ratify the new rules and policies. We are still waiting for it to happen. I wouldn’t hold my breath for it. 

According to some sources, they are considering ratifying it soon. It is the same term I use to distract my kid when they are begging for the 1,000th Pokémon card. We can all be pretty sure they won’t consider it and are looking for ways to avoid it. Therefore, they hired the Van Bael & Bellis law firm to help them figure things out. 

On top of all that, the Gaming Amendment Act that was voted on last year (with Bill 55 attached) shows a clear stance that money is more important than customers, or local gaming laws.

Nothing New on the Southern Front 

The old proverb says the wolf sheds hair but never its temper. I would never go as far as saying the MGA is a predatory authority. But that won’t stop me from saying it will, sooner or later, become obsolete. 

There will always be players willing to take a higher risk, but the gambling community is becoming more educated and careful than ever. 

Doing the bare minimum of what you are supposed to do is not worth praise. 

Especially not when the other side of the same coin shows zero interest in playing by the book and getting back on track with the latest customer protection trends. 

As the MGA continues to sit on two chairs at the same time, the list of countries that blacklist and block brands with its license gets longer. A couple of years from now, Maltese hotshots might end up wondering whether it was all worth it. 

This article delivers the thoughts and opinions of the author, and it doesn't represent the stance of GoodLuckMate.

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Borina Kopcic Pandur
Borina Kopcic Pandur
Last Update: 13 Feb 2024
Borina Kopcic Pandur is a skilled and imaginative writer with years of experience in the gambling industry. As a writer for GoodLuckMate, she specializes in crafting detailed and engaging casino reviews that offer a fresh perspective on online gambling. With her unique writing style and profound industry knowledge, she provides readers with expert evaluations and insightful perspectives.

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