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Malta Lotteries & Gaming Authority: Online Casino Regulator

20 January 2010 by Devon Chappell
lga-02

the Malta Lotteries & Gaming Authority

Malta is one of the leading online gambling regulatory jurisdictions in the world. Overseen by the Lotteries and Gaming Authority, Malta has earned a reputation as a strict and diligent regulator – one which often serves as a benchmark for other regulatory jurisdictions to follow. That said, when the LGA speaks, the online gambling community listens. One would also hope it to be the other way around. However, the LGA has been under fire of late (update: January 8, 2011) for being non-responsive to player complaints and slow to launch investigations.

lga-03Speaking on behalf of the LGA lately has been Reuben Portanier – the relatively new and youthful CEO who stepped in to fill the demanding role nine months ago. On second thought, up until recently, Portanier has not been saying much about anything, and thus pretty much out of the media spotlight. Granted, Portanier himself pointed out that the last few months have been consumed by consultations with local industry to ensure the LGA is on the same page – technically and legally – with the European facing online gambling industry.

As recently interviewed by the Malta Sunday Times, Portanier shed a great deal of insight on where the LGA is going and what he believes to be the direction of the online gambling industry as a whole. For Portanier, consolidation of legal framework and staying abreast of technological developments are keys to the ultimate mission of the LGA. And that is preserving the “ecosystem” of the online gambling industry.

Unlike licensing jurisdictions (such as Costa Rica), or as Portanier pointed out “fly-by-night” regulators, the LGA is a regulatory jurisdiction (52 staffers including auditors, certifiers and legal experts) charged with oversight of a complex industry. Just how complex is what 99% of online gamblers do not understand (not to mention government officials), and is precisely why Portanier’s interview with the Sunday Times is especially enlightening.

The LGA, which has an advisory capacity to the legislation body, is highly active in working groups at the European Commission and is in constant consult with industry experts at the EU level, where regulatory guidelines can change by the week. As Mr. Portanier stated, “For Malta’s (online gambling) industry to be sustainable, the regulator, for one, cannot afford to be complacent.”

LGA CEO Reuben Portanier

LGA CEO Reuben Portanier

And most e-gaming experts will agree that Malta has been anything but complacent over the years. Now home to over half of the European online gambling industry’s workforce, Malta even has the private sector vying to be associated with the LGA, which is a win-win considering the heightened degree of checks-and-balances that comes with the employment of a growing network of third-party, independent certifiers. As for online casino operators like Will Hill Online, they simply want the prestige and peace of mind that comes with being regulated by a respected and serious authority. Just let it be known that obtaining a gaming license from Malta is no easy task.

Another testament to the LGA’s lack of complacency is it’s streamlining of the licensing process for online casinos without compromising due diligence. Turnaround rate has seen a 27% increase, and Portanier says a target to speed up the processing rate by 40-45% has been set. Also promising are improvements that were slated following consultation with the Remote Gaming Association (RGA), which represents a large number of Malta online casino license holders. FYI, if you ever wondered what good ever came of the RGA, this is a perfect example.

In his interview with The Sunday Times, Portanier also dished out numbers, which point to a positive outlook for the online gambling industry as a whole. Malta’s online gaming revenue generated by the LGA’s 250 licensed operators (335 granted licenses), was at 19 million Euros – up nearly 20% from 15.9 million Euro’s generated the previous year. Despite a slowing economy, Portanier says the numbers are continuing to rise, and is expecting ever larger revenue this year.

Malta

Malta's a Great Place to Live and Gamble Online!

If you are an online casino operator, a great time to get to know many of the people at the LGA will be in London (Earl’s Court) at the International Gaming Expo (IGE) – the largest online gambling convention in the world. This year’s event is right around the corner (January 25-28, 2010), and the LGA – for the seventh year in a row – will be sporting a stand in the exhibition hall (stand # 5140), which incidentally, will be the largest exhibition stand at the convention. In fact, over half of the exhibiting companies at the expo are said to have a connection with the Maltese regulatory industry. Other regulatory jurisdictions, such as the UK, Isle of Man and Italy will also be in attendance at IGE, along with software providers, online casino gambling operators and affiliate recruiters.

Participation at the IGE will be had by several LGA officials (fourteen in attendance), including pre-event panels on topics ranging from legal matters to cyber crime. The LGA will also be participating  in the capacity of sponsor and chair of a CEO strategic convention at the World Gaming Briefing in Malta, come March 2010.

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4 Responses to “Malta Lotteries & Gaming Authority: Online Casino Regulator”

  1. Devon says:

    I am the original author of this article, and I find it only right to update this post with…well….an update.

    That said, the Malta Lotteries and Gaming Authority has been coming under some intense criticism of late, which some folks in the industry say has been building up over the last few years.

    The Number One complaint against the LGA is that they are slow to respond or are not responding to player complaints and launching investigations like they are supposed to.

    I personally don’t know the details of these complaints, but can honestly say that enough affiliates, players and respected names in the gaming industry have expressed concerns about the LGA, that such concerns warrant merit. One would hope the LGA would take heed and at least let people know they are listening.

  2. Devon says:

    Hi Joao,

    That’s precisely what the LGA is for – to investigate complaints. We are not the LGA. You will need to go through their site directly and post your complaint with the appropriate channel.

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