According to CEO of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), Carl Brincat, the greylisting of Malta by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will not have any practical effects on the iGaming industry “in principle”, and as such “not much has to change”, in how companies operate.
The status, which the FATF placed Malta under on Thursday night, is officially referred to as ‘Jurisdiction Under Increased Monitoring’, and is expected to send a signal to the international banking and commerce community that there are heightened risks with regards doing business in Malta.
Speaking on Thursday’s episode of Lovin Daily, Mr Brincat acknowledged that he was receiving phone calls from industry players regarding the practical implications of the greylisting, but insisted that most of the effects of the development are reputational.
Certainly, he said, the listing would be factored into the decision making of international partners dealing in Malta, but this will be “an additional factor”, and will not necessarily “change the whole outlook”.
The CEO cited the situation in Iceland, which was greylisted in 2019 before being removed in 2020, where despite the blemish, international ratings agencies did not change their risk ratings for the country.
Considering this, however, it is imperative Malta escapes the category as soon as possible, and Mr Brincat claimed that whilst he could not give a specific timeline, he is “extremely confident… we will be out of the grey list soon”.
Aside from its participation in the overall drive to bring Malta off the list as soon as possible, Mr Brincat stated that the MGA would be aiming to increase its transparency so that stakeholders in Malta’s iGaming industry and their international partners can see that the jurisdiction’s regulatory framework remains strong.
This would help mitigate the implications of the development on the industry, according to Mr Brincat. It’s a matter of saying: “You are concerned because we have this label, let us show you why you needn’t be”, he argued.
Addressing the specific reasons why Malta failed the FATF vote, Mr Brincat says that whilst he could not provide exact reasons, as the FATF will be making a public disclosure on Friday or Monday, but that according to his advanced view, they will be citing a number of improvements which Malta has already been working towards.
“We are fully committed to undertaking the necessary reforms soonest, and in fact it is already being implemented”, he said.
Whilst Mr Brincat was tightlipped about the specific shortcomings cited by the FATF, local media has previously cited Malta’s refusal to ratify the Macolin Convention on sports betting as a key stumbling block for the country’s passing of the assessment.
Under the Council of Europe’s Convention, which aims to combat the manipulation of sports through illegal betting, Malta-based betting operators would need to honour the laws of the jurisdiction in which players using the online services are based.
The ratification of the Convention, as previously reported by iGamingCapital.mt, would not have operational impacts on the local industry in Malta, because “it is limited solely to combating match-fixing, an endeavour which [local sports betting companies] are already key stakeholders in”.
Mr Brincat was emphatic that when the FATF report becomes publicly available, it will be clear that it is not Malta as a whole that is an untrustworthy jurisdiction, but that it has certain specific shortcomings.
Regarding the MGA, the CEO stated that the greylisting is not a reflection on it as a systematic institution: “We were not criticised during the assessments. On the contrary”.
Asked how the Authority will be responding to the news, Mr Brincat insisted that any fear that institutions would go into overdrive and overcompensate was untrue and that it does not want to stifle legitimate businesses.
“Whatever difficulties [iGaming companies] may face, they will find our full support”.
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