MGA warns licensees about marketing during Covid-19

27 March 2020

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has reminded licensees to be socially responsible with their commercial communications during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The regulator reminded licensees that the current situation is likely to be highly distressing to many players and said that any marketing communication that makes a reference to the disease - either directly or indirectly - would be considered in breach of its regulations.

The MGA added that commercial communications must not encourage antisocial behaviour or suggest that gaming can be a resolution to social, educational, personal or professional problems, portray gaming as socially attractive or suggest that solitary gaming is preferable to social gaming.

In addition, communications must not suggest that gaming can be an alternative to employment, solution to financial concerns or a form of financial investment.

The MGA also instructed operators to remind affiliates of these rules to ensure that they are marketing and licensees’ products responsibly.

The Maltese regulator's intervention is the latest instance of a gambling supervisory body cracking down on those that may look to exploit the pandemic for financial gain.

Earlier this month, Dutch regulator the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) criticised unlicensed operators for publishing adverts encouraging consumers to use their illegal online services to gamble while gaming venues in the country are closed due to the outbreak of Covid-19. It then announced a €50,000 premium on any fine levied on offshore operators that referenced the pandemic in its marketing.

Yesterday (26 March), British Gambling Commission chair Neil McArthur issued a message to online gambling operators, reminding them of the importance of consumer protection and responsible marketing amid the effects of the novel coronavirus.

McArthur said that, given the massive increase in people who will be at home for most of the day, licensees must make sure their standards of consumer protection remain as high as possible. There had already been a notable increase in activity around online slots, poker, casino gaming and virtual sports, he noted.