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Online Gambling Operators Leave Malta Following MGA Investigation
- April 16, 2018 By Oliver Young -
Malta has always been recognized as a top online gambling market as well as a country whose gambling body the Malta Gaming Authority has boasted with high reputation. Therefore, when the country makes the headlines, this is usually thanks to good news; even if it comes to introducing brand-new gaming legislation.
Nonetheless, this month the situation has changed after the MGA has started an investigation into organized crime links, which led to online gambling companies leaving the Maltese gambling market. According to latest reports, there has been a single license suspension as well as one license cancellation. Moreover, three companies have decided to end their own licensees. Thus, so far, a total of five licensees have departed the country’s shores.
Allegedly, the three companies that have voluntarily ended their licenses are Italian operators. This is interesting to note as for the past few weeks the MGA has been conducting the investigation mainly focused on money laundering after the Italian police stated that certain crime links have been related with online gambling companies in Malta.
MGA Open to Collaboration with Italian Police
As was reported in the local newspaper Malta Today, Joseph Cushieri, MGA chief, said that the MGA was open to collaboration with the Italian police and authorities. He also pointed out that the body was open to collaboration with literally any legitimate enforcement organization in order to remove any concerns or misunderstandings and to keep crime-free gaming in the country.
Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister of Malta, has also commented on the latest happenings. He said that the recurring gambling issues related to Italian operators have led to new initiatives by the MGA. Namely, from now on the authority is expected to strengthen its due diligence activities through training as well as employing more human and technical resources. Additionally, Muscat stated that there have been important improvements in terms of interaction with international agencies, plus money laundering checks and independent audits have been completed.
Italian Operators Associated with Money Laundering
In terms of companies that left the Malta gaming market, the following gambling operators have voluntarily did so: Betent Group Ltd. (Betent.com), Potter Mrc Ltd (Potterbet) and Giodani Ltd. (Giodani). Even though the exact reasons for this step are still unknown, it is obvious that the operators wanted to avoid questioning by the MGA.
Another name whose license has been cancelled is LB Casino i.e. the parent company of Leaderbet. There has been possibly the loudest allegations that this casino has been laundering money via its Malta operations. LB Casino was also part of the Italian investigation under the code name Game Over and yet it still operates on the Italian gambling market under its Curacao license.
Finally, B2875 is the last one to exit Malta; this bookmaker was operated by Phoenix Limited, a company related to Bendetto Bacchi, who was the main subject of the Game Over investigation. Bacchi was arrested alongside 30 other people earlier this year under suspicion of running a network of 700 illegal betting shops in Italy.
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