Malta regulator issues integrity guidance amid Covid-19 crisis

6 April 2020

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has published new guidance for operators to help safeguard integrity during the ongoing novel coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, while the regulator has cancelled Bimbabet’s licence after it was found to have breached regulations.

The regulator said that as most sports events have been postponed, this will spur more operators to focus on other betting markets, which it said have different risk profiles to traditional sports.

The MGA highlighted esports as one market that is set to experience an increase in interest during the period of sporting shutdown. Like other sports, it said, esports has varying levels of professional, semi-professional and amateur tournaments, and while many events are run in a professional manner, others may not be so carefully arranged, and this could create integrity issues.

The regulator has therefore has released guidance to assist licensed operators with esports betting, pointing out that events are currently only run online, with the the standard integrity checks carried out at physical events not necessarily being carried out.

The MGA advised operators to ensure matches are not pre-recorded. Risk mamangement teams were told to be mindful of the fact that games are not always broadcast in real time, and there is often a pre-set delay between the actual match and public broadcast.

Customers should be made aware of the distinction between esports and virtual sports, while operators should look into whether events benefit from integrity controls and if participants are professional when deciding on what markets to offer, it added.

Operators were also advised to seek information about participants and officials involved in events, as well as maintain their betting integrity and fraud checks, including making sure that those involved in the events are not placing bets.

All suspicious betting activity should be reported to the MGA, while any other suspicious activity not related to betting related should be reported to relevant sports governing bodies or the event organiser.

In addition, the MGA advised tournament organisers, broadcasters and sports governing bodies to revise any policies regarding misuse of inside information to include also any participants or officials involved in their events.

In separate news, the MGA has cancelled Bimbabet Limited’s licence after ruling that the operator breached a number of regulations, including failing to pay its licence fee.

Bimbabet had been operating its website under an B2C gaming service licence, but the cancellation, effective from today (6 April), means it is no longer authorised to carry out any gaming operations.

The operator must also not register new customers or accept new deposits, but has been ordered by the MGA to retain and provide all players with access to their accounts, as well as refund any outstanding monies to customers.

Bimbabet was found in breach of sections C and I of regulation 9 in the Gaming Compliance and Enforcement Regulations.

Section I relates to the failure to pay relevant annual licence fees or compliance contribution fees, while section C covers the failure to submit a key functions list, audited financial statements for 2018 or interim financial statements for 2019 to the MGA.

Bimbabet may be permitted to appeal the decision.