Following the extension of a general licensing exemption to the offering of ‘fantasy sports games’ back in August 2016, the new Skill Games Regulations (S.L. 438.11) have now entered into force as at the 24th January 2017. The Regulations seek to govern the provision of certain games of skill, including Fantasy Sports, in or from Malta.
The enactment of a specific regulatory regime governing the provision of skill games is consistent with the MGA’s long-held position that, whilst games of skill should clearly be differentiated from games of chance, such games still warrant a degree of regulatory intervention which is appropriate and proportionate to the level of risk to the player.
the Regulations strike an effective balance between avoiding unnecessary regulatory burden and preserving the needs of the industry by tailoring specific regulation to this specialised sector of the market
The Skill Games Regulations effectively empower the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) to regulate the Skill Games sector pursuant to various prescribed public policy objectives, including consumer protection, ensuring fairness and transparency of such games and the prevention of criminality.
The Regulations aim, inter alia, to draw a distinction between games in respect of which the Regulator’s intervention is warranted and justifiable and others where it is deemed not to be necessary on the basis of the degree of risk posed to consumers. To this end, only certain types of skill games are deemed to be “Controlled Skill Games” and will be subject to the corresponding licensing requirements and other obligations envisaged in the Regulations. Accordingly, the Regulations strike an effective balance between avoiding unnecessary regulatory burden and preserving the needs of the industry by tailoring specific regulation to this specialised sector of the market.
The effect of the enactment of the aforesaid Regulations, which also comprised the repealing of the Fantasy Sports (Exemption) Regulations, is that fantasy sports operators (as well as applicants wishing to establish such operations in Malta) are required to obtain a controlled skill games licence from the Malta Gaming Authority. As such, Fantasy Sports operators currently operating in and from Malta will need to obtain a licence within the prescribed three-month transitory period (by the 27th April 2017) in order to ensure the uninterrupted continuance of their business.
Fantasy Sports operators currently operating in and from Malta will need to obtain a licence within the prescribed three-month transitory period (by the 27th April 2017)
A controlled skill games licence may be issued by the MGA in relation to the provision of service/s for the purposes of engaging with end consumers (Controlled Skill Games Services) or to provide a supply on a business-to-business basis (Controlled Skill Games Supplies). Controlled skill games licences will be valid for a period of five years and may be duly renewed by their holders.
Malta has long been at the forefront of European regulatory innovation in the remote gaming industry and it is widely anticipated that the regulation of skill games will effectively facilitate the growth of this specific sector, complementing the island’s existing extensive gaming offering and further securing Malta’s role as a leading jurisdiction in the global gaming industry.