Following a public consultation process with industry stakeholders – and the subsequent publication of feedback and emerging guidelines in October 2020 – the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) introduced new compliance regulations requiring business-to-consumer iGaming operators in the field of sports betting to report instances of suspicious bets to the authority through a new online platform, the Suspicious Betting Reporting Mechanism (SBRM).
The portal was established with the aim of providing an efficient system by which these iGaming companies can fulfil their legal obligations in the fight against money laundering and financial crime, while ensuring their integrity and reputation. It was made available on the 23rd November of last year, giving firms almost six weeks to test the mechanism before the obligation to report suspicious betting came into effect on the 1st January 2021.
Karl Gonzi, the local Managing Director for Entain, the international iGaming firm behind bwin, Ladbrokes, partypoker, partycasino and Coral, calls the new requirements “another step forward in the country’s efforts to help protect the integrity of sport and betting, following the enactment of the Prevention of Corruption in Sport Act in 2018, the establishment of the MGA’s Sports Integrity Unit in 2019 and the consultation process undertaken by the MGA last year.”
The new system is “user friendly and easily navigable”, Mr Gonzi says, adding that it is now much simpler to file a Suspicious Betting Report and to upload all required files than it has been in recent years. “Whereas before, suspicious betting reports used to be communicated by means of emails to the various authorities, it is now easier and more straight forward.” Moreover, the recently introduced mechanism has had no impact on the company’s internal process since such suspicious betting reports used to be prepared for other jurisdictions at any rate.
Fundamentally, for the Managing Director, the new requirements, together with the SBRM, “represent another opportunity to continue to build trusted relationships with our customers and other stakeholders”, for “it is vital that both local and international sports governing bodies, regulators and operators work together and maintain constant dialogue to ensure that sport is conducted in a fair and open manner while remaining corruption-free.” Indeed, he continues, “these new requirements are a big piece in that puzzle at a local level and indicate Malta’s willingness to do its part in this major and continuing challenge.”
A spokesperson for Tipico, one of Europe’s most recognisable sports betting brands, echoes these sentiments, calling the new mechanism “a positive development for Malta”, since it encourages transparency and accountability.
“With the new requirements, the MGA has enhanced communication and the exchange of alerts received by different monitoring systems. As these are used by the providers, it may result in an increased capacity to identify potential fraud and manipulation. Ultimately, through collecting consistent data, manipulation can be prosecuted more thoroughly,” the spokesperson asserted.
Moreover, reflecting the experience of Entain, Tipico has not registered any negative impact on its operations, since the information had to be submitted to authorities in other jurisdictions. However, the company is driven to see more harmonisation across countries in this regard, and proposes that a single, centralised authority would be responsible for collecting suspicious reports and sharing them amongst the concerned countries.
“Since we are operating across jurisdictions, it would certainly be more efficient if we would only have to deal with a single authority – hence sharing information once. While this might not be feasible in the short-term future, we have seen significant progress in cooperation amongst different gaming authorities in this area and welcome these efforts,” the company affirms.
Yet, overall, the spokesperson insists on the productivity of the new system and requirements. “Looking ahead, we think that the impact will be positive. The MGA will now have access to a large and consistent set of data allowing for the analysis and evaluation of potentially fraudulent activities. Therefore, it contributes significantly to the fight against fraud in the industry. And we are happy to contribute our part to it,” they conclude.
This is an extract of a feature first carried in the summer edition of iGaming Capital magazine, the sister brand to iGamingCapital.mt
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