Malta’s online gambling regulator has parted company with several of its Italy-based licensees following a probe into their activities.
In February, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) announced it was conducting a probe of seven Italian licensees, asking each of them to provide answers to 20 specific questions regarding their operations, including their anti-money laundering (AML) protocols.
The probe came shortly after Italian authorities busted an illegal online gambling ring linked to MGA licensee Phoenix International Ltd, which operated the Bsport24.com and B28sport.com domains. It was the latest in a series of Mafia-connected busts linked to MGA-licensed gambling sites.
While the MGA has so far been silent on the results of its probe, Italian media outlets recently reported that several of these Italian MGA licensees had been found wanting and had severed their ties with the MGA.
The LB Group Ltd’s Leaderbet.com site reportedly had its MGA license cancelled as of February 27. Three other operators – Betting Entertainment Group Ltd’s Betent.com, Pottery Mrc Ltd’s Potterbet, and Giodani Limited’s Giodani brand – reportedly opted to unilaterally ‘terminate’ their MGA licenses rather than submit to further scrutiny.
On a more positive note, the Betn1 brand of Sogno di Toloso Ltd has reportedly emerged from its regulatory proctology exam with flying colors. The company issued a statement saying it had received confirmation of “the correctness of its corporate policies aimed at protecting the consumer / player, compliance with the regulations of each country where the MGA product and the community directives against terrorism and money laundering are offered.”
Gambling accounts for roughly 12% of Malta’s economic output, and thus any aspersions cast on the MGA’s licensees represent an existential threat to Maltese society. As such, the MGA recently announced the formation of a new anti-money laundering unit in the hopes of eliminating future embarrassing episodes stemming from the potential antics of its licensees.