Outreach is central to the Malta Gaming Authority’s (MGA) strategy following the June decision of the Financial Action Task Force to place Malta under increased monitoring, or the so-called grey list.
This was shared by Yanica Sant, general counsel to the national regulator, who took part in a webinar hosted by SBC and presented by Joe Streeter – editor of Payment Expert. She was also joined by Enrico Bradamante – CEO at Maverick Slots but speaking in his capacity as chairman of the iGaming European Network, and James Scicluna – co-managing partner at WH Partners (legal firm).
To read about what Mr Bradamante and Dr Scicluna had to say about the impacts of greylisting on Malta’s significant iGaming community, click here.
On her part, Dr Sant shares that the MGA is “still in the process of speaking to a lot of stakeholders because we [the MGA] still need to understand the practical ramifications they are experiencing”, such as increased documentation requests by financial institutions and banks outside of Malta
The regulator takes outreach a step further, however. Dr Sant is at pains to encourage any stakeholder in the industry which may be having difficulty with partners, banks or financial institutions outside of Malta to get in touch with the authority.
Through a dedicated unit for outreach, she shares how the MGA is mitigating the fall out of not just of greylisting, but effects that were happening before the FATF decision:
“Whoever they are, they may be having issues with operating in Malta, perhaps even before we were greylisted, or now, get in touch so that we can explain and share our best practices, our regulatory processes, our oversight on licensees, our compliance process and our licensing process. Essentially, everything that goes into it, from due diligence to making sure players are safe”.
Elaborating on what impacts to the industry prior to greylisting, she stresses that iGaming has always been viewed as high risk, and the recategorisation only increased the risk profile.
“Striking a balance is hard, from a regulatory perspective we need to ensure that the market remains open and that consumers have a fair choice. At the same time, that choice needs to be regulated in a way that meets the objectives of the law. In our case it’s keeping gambling fair and free from crime.”
She discusses the complexities of ensuring operators are regulated appropriately, striking a balance between observing due diligence and avoiding making it difficult for organisations to operate, “because that might consequently be a problem for the players”.
“Outreach is part of our plan and part of our programme”, she attests.
Elaborating further, she explains that identifying the need for collaboration and outreach is what the MGA “has taking out of this”.
“As I said, there are no specific points identified by the FATF that the MGA needs to address. We need to continue improving our regulatory processes, but that is something we have always done, not just because of the grey list – that is normal procedure.
“At the same time what we are doing for business, Malta and the FATF is increasing our collaboration. Be it the police, the FIAU and other regulators, but also with operators, stakeholders, service providers, and more importantly international service providers who might have doubts because we are on the grey list.
“So, we are here to explain that the gaming industry was not particularly targeted – or rather the regulatory process was not particularly targeted [by the FATF] and we are here to explain what goes on behind the scenes when giving out a licence, the terms of a licence, how it is issued, the oversight and all due diligence.
She closes off by stressing that the MGA is doing all it can to contribute towards Malta’s departure from the grey list.
“It shouldn’t be longer than the 18-month time frame mentioned. And, I hope businesses have faith in our efforts.”
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