With the current changes in the iGaming business, issues have cropped up regarding competition and the future of licensing bodies. Some countries have established their own regulatory organizations which govern gambling in their territories.
In light of this development, not all iGaming companies may work in a country with just the MGA regulatory approval, especially because many emerging markets have their own licensing bodies.
What is the Malta Gaming Authority?
The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is a body that issues licenses to online gambling companies. This European regulatory organization has its base on the island of Malta, and, initially, it was known as the Malta Lottery and Gaming Authority.
This regulatory body does not engage in profit-making. Its main responsibility is regulatory by issuing licenses to gambling companies who meet the set requirements to operate in different territories.
The MGA is one of the most trustworthy and recognizable licensing bodies in the world. But as countries are starting to issue their own licenses through their own regulatory bodies, will the MGA soon become irrelevant in the market?
The Impact of Country-Level Regulation
Hand in hand with the MGA for prestige and importance, the United Kingdom has its own regulatory body, the UKGC (United Kingdom Gambling Commission).
The existence of this entity did not scratch the licensing power of the MGA. More and more European jurisdictions regulate their gambling markets by introducing not only local-level licenses issued by their own regulatory bodies, but the cracks may also start to show.
The Portuguese Case
One European country where the MGA has little to no importance is Portugal. As one emerging gambling market, it has reached top-level numbers during the Covid-19 pandemic — and the country has its own regulatory body and issues its own licenses. Online casinos and sportsbooks that want to operate in the Portuguese market may only do so by having an SRIJ (Serviço de Regulação Inspeção de Jogos) issued license.
The Emerging Southern European Gambling Markets
Alongside Portugal, Spain and Italy also issue their own gambling licenses, so the MGA has virtually no impact in these emerging markets. Gambling operators that pretend to operate in Spain must have a mandatory license issued by the DGOJ (Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego). The same goes for those seeking to enter the Italian market. In this country, the ADM (Agenzia Delle Dogane e Dei Monopoli) is the entity responsible for licensing gambling operators, including high-profile international ones.
Why Markets Still Seek MGA Licences
The Malta Gaming Authority controls multiple online gaming segments, and having a license issued by this regulatory body is still a great deal in numerous cases. While most EU countries implemented country-level regulations, many jurisdictions worldwide still don’t have specific laws targeting gambling activities, mainly license issuing.
These countries must rely on strong, prominent, and popular bodies to license online casinos. Even though new regulatory entities appeared in the market — like Kahnawake and Curaçao — the Malta Gaming Authority is still the most respected.
Two major examples of markets still relying on MGA issued licenses are Canada and New Zealand.
MGA in Canada
Canada has strict and highly regulated laws regarding land-based gambling facilities. However, the same does not happen when it comes to online gambling. Even though Canadian online operators must expressly have a government issued license to carry on their businesses, the same doesn’t happen to overseas-based ones. So when it comes to foreign online casino operators, the law has some loopholes.
International online gambling operators don’t have to follow any official procedures to operate in the country.
Therefore, the only thing they have to rely on is their reputation. What better way to achieve a reputation than have a license issued by one of the most reputable online gambling regulators in the market? That’s where MGA comes in.
MGA in New Zealand
Even though New Zealand has a Gambling Commission of its own, the laws and legislation in the country regarding land-based and online gambling are quite particular.
All sorts of gambling are illegal unless authorized by this regulatory body. But the commission only issues land-based licenses and has a list of activities that are strictly prohibited.
Under this category, remote interactive gambling is forbidden, and this is, so to say online casinos. Advertising overseas online gambling is also on the list. But New Zealanders often seek online casinos targeting them.
This is another case where MGA comes in. As a handy help for online casinos that depend on nothing but their reputation to attract customers, a strong and reliable license is a must-have.
There’s typically a choice between casinos licensed in Malta and those holding a much less reputable Curacao license for NZ players. If you take a look at NZ online casino comparison site, you’ll see that the ones promoted are almost exclusively MGA licensed brands like Casumo and Leo Vegas.
MGA in Finland
The state of online gaming in Finland is rather ironic. Online gaming operates in a monopoly. The only two licensed operators are VeikkausOy and Paf.
However, several companies have recently maneuvered their way through and got access to the Finnish market. They sought a license from the Malta Gaming Authority and operated electronically.
With Malta’s license, they can avoid troubles from authorities. As a result, the Finnish market has witnessed a rise in the number of companies regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority.
To get a Malta operating license in Finland is a process that takes not less than six months. Operators must submit several documents, and they must be in English or translated to English. During the application process, authorities also approve the software license that must be tested before going online.
With increasingly changing market trends in online gaming, the future is unpredictable for the Malta Gaming Authority. Even though the world reputation associated with this regulatory body and the licenses it issues is undeniable, more and more countries are starting to have their own regulated gambling markets, free from overseas issued licensed operators.
Its adaptability to marketing needs and the ways the Malta Gaming Authority will cope with less demand from emerging markets while fighting for unregulated ones will define the future of one of the most prestigious gambling government bodies.
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