Editorial - Confusion in Malta

16 May 2005

In my research for a profile of Malta as an I-gaming jurisdiction (to be featured soon in IGN), I was hoping to publish a list of the remote gaming operators located there, but the Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) informed me that they could not provide one.

So I did some searching on my own, and I came across a notice at EUVegas.com, stating: "EUVegas.com is the first online casino with a legal authorization from the government of an EU state, Malta. It guarantees transparency, security and fair gaming."

Above that, the LGA logo was on the homepage of the EUVegas.com Web site.

LGA CEO Mario Galea later informed me that "the company EUVegas is not licensed in Malta and has been abrogated. This casino does not have any affiliations with the E.U. as it claims and was never licensed by the Gaming Authority."

A published list of licensees in good standing would do a lot to eliminate questions as to who is legitimately licensed, so why hasn't Malta done this?

The problem, suggests Olga Finkel of the law firm Gatt Frendo Tufigno, is that there are too many applicants undergoing various stages of the licensing process.

"There are about 66 licenses granted through today," Finkel explained. "The problem of getting information from the LGA is, I hope, transient. It seems to rest on the premise that the operators are not fully licensed yet. The licensing process is three-staged. Most operators have not passed certification as yet, so, officially, they cannot be called 'operators' or 'licensees' . . . only applicants. Once they've gone through certification and compliance, they will get an official seal of approval."

Whitehorse betting exchange Betfair is the most recent operator to be granted an online gaming license by LGA, and the approval could trigger a chain reaction. Looking forward to a period of accelerated growth, and within the framework of gaming transparency, it would be advisable to publish all the remote gaming operators located in Malta. Then, the LGA can again proudly call itself the "European Hub of I-Gaming."

Rob van der Gaast has a background in sports journalism. He worked for over seven years as the head of sports for Dutch National Radio and has developed new concepts for the TV and the gambling industry. Now he operates from Istanbul as an independent gambling research analyst. He specializes in European gambling matters and in privatizations of gambling operators. Rob has contributed to IGN since Jul 09, 2001.