The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) regulates land-based and internet gambling in Malta. It serves as one of the largest online gaming authorities in the world.
Due to the size and scope of Malta’s jurisdiction, many internet casinos seek licensing here. This guide covers more on MGA online casinos and considers their trustworthiness.
What Types of Licenses does The MGA Offer?
Malta offers four different types of licenses. Each of the following licenses varies based on which gaming style it covers:
- Class 1 – Remote gaming license for online casinos and lottery-style games.
- Class 2 – Remote license for sports betting.
- Class 3 – Advertising license revolving around poker and other types of peer-to-peer gambling.
- Class 4 – Remote license for hosting and running other operators’ remote gaming operations (i.e., B2B).
Therefore, one must obtain a Class 1 license to offer online casino games to MGA-approved countries.
How do Online Casinos Obtain an MGA License?
The Malta Gaming Authority’s website homepage features an application section. Prospective licensees can fill out this application to start on the path towards obtaining a license.
All licensees must house at least part of their operations in Malta. Therefore, applicants must be prepared to make a commitment beyond covering licensing fees and taxes.
MGA online casinos also need to offer services beyond just gaming, such as banking options, website security, fraud prevention, and customer support.
Malta gaming sites must provide resources for problem gamblers. For example, casinos should give players the option to self-limit or even self-exclude themselves from the market.
The MGA also prods operators to maintain transparency in large-scale decisions. For instance, an online casino must seek approval before making a major change on the corporate board (e.g., changing CEOs).
MGA casinos need to pay the following application fees and “compliance contribution” for B2C operations:
- €25,000 in total application fees.
- Annual compliance contribution based on the following revenue:
- 1.25% rate for the first €3,000,000
- 1.0% rate for the next €4,500,000
- 0.85% rate for the next €5,000,000
- 0.70% rate for the next €7,500,000
- 0.55% rate for the next €10,000,000
- 0.40% for any higher amount
- Compliance contributions range from a minimum of €15,000 to a maximum of €375,000 per year.
- 5% tax rate on revenue generated through Malta-based online gamblers.
Benefits of an MGA Casino License
Malta has become one of the industry’s most popular gaming jurisdictions for many reasons. Operators can expect the following benefits when obtaining an MGA license.
Malta is one of the world’s most reputable gaming jurisdictions. Its licenses inspire comfort in many online gamblers.
Formerly the Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA), the MGA became the first gaming regulatory body in the EU.
It has worked closely with the EU to ensure fair gaming ever since. As a result, MGA online casinos can be confident when serving relevant EU nations.
Ability to Serve Many Countries
Malta offers one of the most comprehensive licenses. An MGA casino license currently covers over 180 countries.
Some restrictions apply both within and outside of the EU.
What Countries do MGA Online Casinos Restrict?
MGA gaming sites restrict a few dozen countries and territories, including:
- Czech Republic
- Hong Kong
- North Korea
- South Sudan
- United Kingdom
- United States and all associated territories (e.g., Puerto Rico, Marshall Islands)
These restricted countries and territories generally fall into one of two categories:
- They feature their own regulated gaming market.
- They either ban online gambling (e.g., North Korea) or feature ambiguous gaming laws (e.g., US).
The MGA’s Functions
As a highly popular regulatory body, the Malta Gaming Authority carries many responsibilities. Its main roles involve:
- Reviewing applicants and issuing licenses to approved parties.
- Lending help and guidance to applicants.
- Preventing minors from gambling with MGA-licensed sites.
- Protecting problem gamblers.
- Monitoring licensees to ensure that they uphold the MGA’s standards.
- Requiring licensees to obtain third-party RNG testing and offer fair gaming.
- Working to prevent criminal activities in the market (e.g., money laundering).
- Responding to gamblers’ complaints.
The MGA can receive and respond to player issues. However, it can’t force gambling sites to return bets that players have lost.
However, the MGA can work to settle disputes between gamblers and online casinos over deposits and winnings.
How Effective is The MGA as a Regulator?
Malta has tweaked its procedures over the years to keep up with the times. For example, it improved the process for handling player-licensee disputes in 2019.
Operators can now choose from a list of approved Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services. Players who experience issues can either complain directly to the MGA or choose one of the gambling site’s preferred ADRs.
The Malta Gaming Authority has also proven to take extreme action when necessary. In 2012, for instance, it revoked Everleaf Gaming’s license.
Everleaf customers lodged complaints about the gaming network failing to make payouts. The MGA investigated the matter and had Michael Zwi Oros—an Everleaf executive—arrested for misappropriation of funds.
Unlike some regulatory bodies, the MGA can refer crooked operators to the local police. This aspect provides an extra incentive for licensees to avoid cheating players.
What Could The MGA Improve Upon?
Unfortunately, this gaming jurisdiction hasn’t been as tough on operators as in previous years. During the 2019 Safeguards Standards conference in Malta, UKGC CEO Neil McArthur urged the MGA to up its standards on licensees.
McArthur noted that the UKGC took the majority of its disciplinary actions against Malta-based operators—some of whom also hold UK licenses. He noted that these operators did a poor job with anti-money laundering measures and social responsibility.
The MGA could certainly improve its problem-gambling policies. Its self-exclusion measures are limited.
Currently, gamblers can request to self-exclude themselves from a single site. However, their request doesn’t apply to Malta’s market as a whole.
A player could ban themselves from an online casino only to have many other MGA-licensed operators to choose from.
Additionally, self-bans are finite. A gambler can exclude themselves from a gaming site and later request that their account be reinstated.
Operators are allowed to reopen excluded players’ accounts by request. They simply need to ensure that a 24-hour or 7-day cooling-off period has subsided.
Can You Trust MGA Online Casinos?
The Malta Gaming Authority used to be one of the world’s strongest regulatory bodies. With overall standards improving in recent times, though, the MGA has slipped behind some competitors.
It doesn’t maintain a strong commitment to responsible gaming or anti-money laundering measures. The UKGC, in contrast, excels in both of these areas.
Nevertheless, the MGA is still one of the best online-gaming jurisdictions. It vets applicants more closely than the average regulatory body and takes action against licensees if necessary.
You can play at the average MGA internet casino with a high level of confidence. This licensing jurisdiction features multiple channels for resolving player-operator disputes and can rely on the Malta Police Force when necessary.
On the other hand, you should be careful when playing at Malta-based sites if you’re a problem gambler. The MGA doesn’t feature the strongest problem-gaming measures.
You can exclude yourself from a single online casino at any time. However, you can just as easily get off the self-ban list once the relevant cooling-off period is over.