Last month, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) released new guidelines for licensees’ advertising and established a Committee to ensure compliance with the new rules.

The main functions of the new Committee lie in reviewing commercial communications brought to its attention and assessing any possible breaches.

The new guidelines consist of a 30-point checklist for licensed operators that will also outline new enforcement in relation to responsible promotion of gambling activities.

Helping operators interpret the law

The changes have been made with the purpose of ensuring Malta’s Gaming Commercial Communications Regulations, which were enacted in 2018, are being adhered to.

‘The MGA published the guidelines with the intention of sharing the manner in which it interprets the word of the law, most notably by providing practical examples of commercial communications that the MGA considers as falling both inside and outside the parameters of the law,’ says Yanica Sant , Senior Legal Counsel at the MGA.

The MGA has taken action on numerous complaints forwarded to it since the law came into force in 2018.

‘In the great majority of cases, operators were quick to remedy the breach,’ explains Yanica.

‘Upon an internal analysis of the operators’ feedback, the MGA considered it beneficial to good-willed operators to have a documentation of the Committee’s interpretation of the applicable legal requirements. Such guidance is intended to provide greater clarity to operators that strive to advertise their products and services in a lawful, fair and responsible manner.’

The guidelines themselves are not of a binding nature and are in no way intended to be a replacement of the laws and regulations.

‘The guidelines document the Committee’s interpretation of the law, however, it is possible for the Committee to consider another interpretation to be equally lawful,’ explains Yanica.

The MGA is encouraging operators to go through the guidelines and continuously refer to them as they plan their marketing campaigns.

‘We equally suggest that operators take heed of the decisions taken by the Committee as listed on the MGA website.’

Encouraging and supporting responsible gaming

Malta’s Commercial Communication Regulations enacted last year, together with separate legislative instruments such as the Player Protection Directive, include specific provisions relating to the promotion of responsible gaming and player support.

‘Such rules relate to, among others, responsible gaming messaging and information, the protection of minors and vulnerable persons, and a prohibition on any advertising targeted to self-excluded individuals,’ explains Yanica.

‘The guidelines expand upon the said provisions with the intention of assisting operators in meeting these requirements and engaging in a responsible marketing strategy.’

Global implications

‘The Committee will decide upon all the complaints it receives, whether it relates to a local, overseas, or online promotion, advert or campaign if such a complaint relates to the promotion of a gaming service offered on the basis of an MGA licence.

‘The MGA enjoys a healthy collaboration with an ever-increasing number of other gambling regulators, and we are grateful to receive any notifications by our colleagues within other jurisdictions that highlight any alleged breach of the licensees’ applicable legislation and licence conditions.’