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ICE Totally Gaming Flagship Event Expected to Welcome over 30,000 Visitors

Journalist Patrick J O Brien met some of the top CEOs exhibiting at ICE Totally Gaming in London

The global reach and international appeal of ICE London is already reason enough for gaming professionals from 151 nations to attend. The industry views ICE Totally Gaming in exceptionally high regard. The formula, it seems, for creating successful exhibitions such as ICE London is a straightforward approach. You gather an international line-up of quality, innovative companies. These attract an international community of gaming professionals in turn, and this year over 30,000 people are due to attend this three day event.

Malta is well represented by more than 40 exhibitors, spearheaded once again by the participation of the Malta Gaming Authority. The MGA’s Executive Chairman, Joseph Cuschieri, will participate in a Regulators’ Question Time Session as part of the debate entitled: “Harnessing a Hybrid Solution: Application for Blockchain for Traditional Online Operators.” This will look into how regulators could make use of Blockchain in their activities.

An contingent of Malta-based firms will be in attendance. These include NetRefer, a leading provider in Unified Performance Marketing, BDO, CSB Group, EMD, and an array of betting and casinos companies. The ground floor will see presentations by employees from companies like Multi Group (of MultiLotto and LottoWarehouse fame) and a total of 62 nation states and jurisdictions will be represented by exhibitors on the show floor, a fact which underlines the unique international credentials of ICE London.

Prominent British Economist, Sir Alan Budd will provide the keynote ahead of the ICE Annual Regulators Luncheon. Sir Alan Budd was a founding member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, as well as a former senior economic adviser to HM Treasury. His Gambling Review Report (2001) provided the foundation for current British gambling legislation, and he will provide his unparalleled insight and analysis in a live interview.

 

Malta as the Upcoming Blockchain Capital of Europe

Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and Other Usage in the Gaming Industry

Blockchain is without any doubt one of the technologies most talked about in the world today.
The Maltese Government has recently announced a drive to promote innovation and to make Malta the blockchain capital of Europe. Being at the forefront of innovation in the gaming sector, but also enhancing Malta’s reputation and economic activity in other areas of the economy is crucial.

Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Ripple or Etherium, just to mention a few, make use of blockchain technology. Essentially, they are digital money in which computational algorithms rather than central banks or financial authorities, are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds.

The authority’s approach to the acceptance of cryptocurrency as a form of payment using a controlled framework (as a test and learn environment) is a sensible step forward that balances risk with opportunity through a well thought out and coordinated initiative.

Blockchain, however, is not just limited to cryptocurrencies in its adoption and usage. The technology provides an innovative model, which along with the world wide web, delivers an infrastructure for the recording and verification of data on a distributed platform. We are now seeing the latest wave of blockchain, generally referred to as blockchain 3.0, which embraces wider adoption in areas of government, healthcare, transportation and energy.

The Malta Gaming Authority is in fact looking into other possible applications of blockchain technology to further enhance the regulatory landscape in Malta and truly make it future proof and innovative.
One such area being considered is a Unified Self Exclusion platform residing on such technology. It is still early days in this ambit but work has already commenced in exploring this project.

SIGMA-igaming-Joseph Cuschieri

Joseph Cuschieri – Chairman & CEO of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA)

Definition of a blockchain and its advantages

What is a blockchain? The blockchain, is essentially a software database which creates a revolutionary way of storing, retrieving, allocating and interacting with digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies or smart contracts, in a secure and transparent manner.
The blockchain is a global online distributed database which anyone, from anywhere, with access to an internet connection can safely and transparently make use of.

Unlike traditional databases which are generally owned by central figures such as banks or governments, a blockchain does not have one central figure owning and regulating it, and with an entire network looking after it using the distributed concept, cheating the system by faking documents, transactions or other information becomes extremely difficult if not near impossible.

Blockchain stores information permanently across a network of computers. This not only decentralises the information but distributes it to all nodes (computers) on the network, too. Since, blockchain applications may have millions of users it is almost impossible for one person to hack the system or take down the entire network.

The many people who run such systems use their own computers to hold packages of records submitted by others. These records are known as blocks. Each block has a timestamp and a link to a previous block, forming a chronological chain of records. One can view the information stored in a blockchain, add records to it, but more importantly one cannot alter information that is already stored on the blockchain. This is achieved using the cryptography techniques mentioned earlier.

Since their inception in 2009, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have gained in popularity and consumption. According to a study published by the University of Cambridge in 2017, the current number of unique active users of cryptocurrencies is estimated to be in the region of 2.9 to 5.8 million users with up to 11.5 million wallets currently estimated to be active.

Risks of Blockchain technology and preventative activities

The Malta Gaming Authority has been closely following the rise of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Conscious of the need to remain at the forefront of innovation and to keep up with new developments in technology and the industry, as well as being fully aware that the system at the back of such transactions provides the industry with fast and cost- effective alternatives to traditional payment mechanisms, the Authority is committed to allow the use of cryptocurrencies by its licensees in the immediate future.

Having said that, the Authority is mindful that there are also risks which have to be addressed in order to ensure that such developments do not prejudice the protection of players, the importance of the prevention of crime in line with the 4th Anti Money Laundering directive and the reputation of the Maltese jurisdiction. To this effect, the Malta Gaming Authority commissioned a study
to assist in the development of an all-encompassing framework, to be inclusive of all necessary safeguards.

While the risk discovery process highlighted challenges in the adoption of cryptocurrency it also served to confirm that through a robust framework, a contained approach and proper guidance, the risks associated to cryptocurrencies may be well mitigated.

The Authority has embarked on a journey in identifying a potential way forward to develop the right balance of measures which will safeguard the gaming industry against such risks but without stiffing innovation and suffocating the legitimate use of cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrencies in a sandboxed approach

To this effect the Authority will be looking into adopting a sandboxed approach to the acceptance of cryptocurrency in the Gaming industry. The idea is that cryptocurrency as a form of payment would be introduced in a controlled framework and for a period of time, to test the proposed controls and legislation with a view to further refining the regulatory approach. This approach is ideal since it gives exibility to be able to manage the various variable risks and allows for a track record of cryptocurrency usage in the industry to be built in a controlled manner.

The Malta Gaming Authority will be adopting a supervisory role in all aspects of the cryptocurrency introduction in the gaming industry.

The Authority will soon be publishing a framework within which cryptocurrency payments shall be permissible in the online gaming industry. The framework will include controlling parameters for operator restrictions, game restrictions, restrictions on Payment Service Providers, transaction limits and nature of transactions. The framework will also include monitoring, supervision and reporting requirements and a validity period for the authorisation granted.

MCAST to Host the First iGaming Course

Malta Gaming Authority partners with MCAST to launch the European Gaming Institute of Malta (EGIM)

The European Gaming Institute of Malta (EGIM) was officially launched through a signing of an agreement between the Malta Gaming Authority and Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST).

The gaming industry of Malta continues to demonstrate an impressive growth, and the aim of the EGIM is to bring more talent into the field and enhance the sustainability and growth of the workforce within the industry by developing training and educational programmes.

The announced partnership will see two organisations working together to offer the first iGaming focused course which will help prepare both local and foreign students for a career in the industry. According to the MGA chairman Joseph Cuschieri, the project had been into the pipeline for more than two years.

Dr. Silvio De Bono, President of the MCAST Board, said, “The gaming sector contributes €1.2 billion to the Maltese economy – 12 per cent of GDP. It certainly has room to grow, however, we need to encourage the young people to begin looking at professions in the iGaming industries, which are a reality of today’s digital age. This is us reacting to the industry’s demand.  Today’s setup of EGIM is the cornerstone of tomorrow’s workforce in this digital revolution. I encourage you to visit our website and discover what EGIM and MCAST can do for you.”

According to Silvio de Bono, from next year, MCAST will be offering two master’s courses related to the gaming sector. There will also be a mix of short-term courses for potential candidates coming from non-related gaming industries to achieve adequate knowledge and skills. 

For more information visit egim.com.mt

 

 

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

MGA Plans A Cryptocurrency Legalisation At Online Casinos

Malta’s government has advanced its plans for a cryptocurrency legalisation  and allow the usage of so called cryptocurrencies, as for example Bitcoins at online casinos.

To effectively regulate the digital currency in gaming, a detailed technical study was already commissioned by the MGA (Malta Gaming Authority), which is in charge of supervising the offline as well as the online casinos operations in Malta.

Joseph Cushier the Executive Chairman of MGA, is convinced that cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technologies are rising innovations. Therefore, they want to determine carefully which opportunities but also which potential risks they hold if they are adapted to the gaming industry.

Cuschieri indicates: “The shape and form of the framework governing cryptocurrencies will be announced in due course and once the risk assessment is carried out. Once the results of the study are evaluated, the MGA will make its position official on how cryptocurrencies will be adopted.”

The Maltese government is convinced by the potential and the opportunities Blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies hold. Therefore, they intend to boost their development in the country aggressively. Aim is to position Malta as one of the leading users of digital currencies and Blockchain worldwide.

During the launch of the government’s Blockchain strategy, in April 2017, Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat stated, that the country should be one of the first to adopt Blockchain.

During the launch Muscat said: “We must be on the frontline in embracing this crucial innovation, and we cannot just wait for others to take action and copy them. We must be the ones that others copy.”

Silvio Schembri, the Digital Economy Parliamentary Secretary, has announced that, in order to attract Blockchain companies to the current project, the Maltese government is already committed to introduce the ledger technology to the public.

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Sky Betting and Gaming applies for local licence

Sky Betting and Gaming, one of the UK’s leading online bookmakers, has applied for a sports betting licence in Malta.It is the biggest online player by customer numbers in the UK market.

Sky betting & Gaming

Headquartered in Leeds and led by chief executive Richard Flint, Sky Betting & Gaming was formed in 2001 and now has a team of 1,200 employees.

It has offices in Sheffield, London, Rome and Munich, recently expanded into Italy and has plans to do the same in Germany soon.

Sky Betting & Gaming today operates five major online products – Bet, Vegas, Casino, Poker, and Bingo – as well as leading sports affiliate Oddschecker. Sky Betting and Gaming was recently valued at £800million.

The Gaming Authority has received 59 applications from gaming companies in the first four months of the year and approved 36 of them.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had yesterday hinted at gaming application, telling journalists that a “household name” in the gaming sector was seeking to relocate to Malta.

Joseph Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

 

Golden Race First to be Awarded Class 4 Licence by the MGA

Betting industry supplier Golden Race has become the first ever virtual sports developer to receive a Class 4 licence in Malta.

The innovative company received recognition from the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) earlier this month following an extensive application process.

The award of this license is the latest development in Golden Race’s push to be the largest virtual sports provider for the regulated markets in the industry.

Golden Race CEO Martin Wachter commented: “We are extremely proud to be the first virtual company to receive a Maltese Class 4 licence, which allows all companies who work under the Maltese Gaming Regulations to take advantage of our product there.”

He went on to say that: “The process takes a lot of time and effort to ensure all of the stringent guidelines are adhered to, but at Golden Race we strive to provide exactly what customers need to be successful, regardless of their location and regulations. Now those operators who love our products can use them fully licensed – it’s win-win all around.”

The supplier’s games suite is used all across Europe, Africa, CIS countries, Latina America and Asia. Golden Race is the creator of the new revolutionary Real Fighting game – a global pioneer in pre-recorded video virtuals, and its 3D Virtual League product is one of the most commonly played in the world.

The MGA license is one of three recently obtained by the heavy-hitting company as it continues to expand across the globe.

Golden Race will also be showcasing at SiGMA16 – Malta’s biggest upcoming gaming event of the year. If you’re interested in coming to watch Golden Race along with our many other exhibitors this month between the 16th and 19th November, click here to register.

For more updates, click here or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

MGA to Simplify Regulatory Regimes for Gambling-Related Businesses

When investing in a certain country, one of the factors that businessmen consider is the time needed to process business permits and licenses. Joseph Cuschieri of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is working on improving the business environment for Malta-based operators and future investors.

Businessmen do not have the time to go back and forth submitting necessary documents and other requirements needed to open a business. Due to the legendary bureaucratic red tape that they must cut through, many businessmen have no choice but to sometimes forego their investment plans in other countries.

For this reason, the MGA is planning on simplifying regulatory regimes in order to give operators some elbow room to move in order for the country’s gambling industry to keep flourishing.

Joseph Cuschieri said that the regulatory regime needs to be simplified and must focus on objectives rather than prescriptive and expired kind of processes and regimes.

He said: “It’s about simplifying because the industry has been through major changes in the last 12 years and the cost of compliance have increased significantly, particularly in Europe. I think that will give regulators more flexibility to focus on outcomes and objectives, and the industry will have an environment which enables it to innovate and grow sustainably.”

He also pointed out that the government is trying its best to provide a conductive environment for the industry to develop, in order for consumers and players to have a better overall experience.

With regards to providing opportunities for gambling operators, Cuschieri believes that Malta continues to be an attractive jurisdiction. He also believes that gambling operators that are considering to move out of the UK following the country’s historic Brexit vote will find Malta to be a viable location due to its size and reputation within the industry.

He also revealed that the MGA is already in touch with other regulators in South America and Asia, adding that they have established some very good contacts. “Nothing has materialized but I believe that Malta can help,” he said.

UKGC Makes Bitcoin Payments Available to Online Licensees

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has given online licensees the green light for digital currencies such as Bitcoin to be accepted payment methods.

Following a series of consultations with licensees and industry stakeholders, the UKGC released its updated License Conditions and Codes or Practice (LCCP); regulations which are set to take effect on October 31st 2016.

In the LCCP, Section 5.1 addresses “cash and cash equivalents, payment methods and services.” Licensees are told that they are to “implement appropriate policies and procedures concerning the usage of cash and cash equivalents by customers.” These cash and cash equivalents include bankers, drafts, cheques and debit cards, as well as digital currencies.

The intention behind this is to reduce the risk of money laundering activity and to “provide assurance that gambling activities are being conducted in a manner which promotes licensing objectives.”

Licensees were advised that they need to take into account any applicable learning or guidelines issued by the UKGC from time to time.

Quoting CEO Sarah Harrison, the UKGC’s annual report last month said that digital currencies were among the regulator’s areas of “continuing future focus”, but Harrison gave no specifics on what that might entail.

The acceptance of Bitcoin by UKGC, a high-profile body, could help to stimulate public acceptance of alternative currencies. The only jurisdiction to date that has allowed online gambling licensees free reign to accept the Bitcoin as payment is that of Curacao.

Momentum seems to be increasing, however, as in May, Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission proposed allowance of its online licensees to accept deposits made in “convertible virtual currencies.” The Malta Gaming Authority also reportedly held a meeting recently on this very subject.

A year ago, the UKGC wrote to emphasise that any Bitcoin gambling operators wishing to serve the UK market will still require a UK license. It also hinted at its upcoming policy adjustments by saying that the form of currency is “almost irrelevant”, as long as licensed operators could demonstrate that “crime is kept out of gambling and consumers are protected.”

Join Games Acquires New MGA License

Join Games at SiGMA15

Join Games at SiGMA15

Join Games Malta Ltd., a Software Casino Provider, has acquired a new license from the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA).

The license acquired is of Class 4, which allows the company to host and manage remote gaming operators, excluding the licensee itself, whereby software vendors provide management and hosting facilities on their platform, essentially making it a business to business (B2B) gaming license.

The MGA is the single, independent and regulatory body that is responsible for the governance of all gaming activities in Malta, both land-based as well as online.

Join games was founded in 2014 through a partnership between two professional business managers with ample experience in the gaming industry. Both having the same vision of creating an innovative Slot Concept, they chose the name “Join” to symbolise the union between the different ideas of the team working to reach the goal of becoming a renowned Casino Slot Provider.

Join Games Malta Ltd. will be showcasing at SiGMA16, Malta’s biggest gaming event in November. If you would like to come and see Join Games and other exhibitors, click https://maltaigamingsummit.com/register/ to register. The early bird offer is available until the end of May.

 

Interview with Joseph Cuschieri (MGA) by CalvinAyre.com

Joseph Cuschieri

MGA Chairman, Joseph Cuschieri

At SiGMA15, Malta Gaming Authority Chairman Joseph Cuschieri was interviewed by CalvinAyre’s Rebecca Liggero on the changes introduced by the regulatory body in 2015. And it was a busy, yet very successful year.

“Throughout this year we’ve undergone massive changes internally, so that the regulator becomes more efficient, more robust. We have invested a lot more in technology and facilities and business intelligence, information, people and I would say that at the end of this year, I think people can start feeling the difference,” Cuschieri said.

In the interview Cuschieri also comments on the new legislation being on MGA’s agenda: “Hopefully… we’ll be presenting a new bill in parliament, which will see Malta having a new legislation which is more modern and more adjourned to the changes in consumer needs and the technology and in the systems that the operators use. And I think the businesses will be quite happy with the changes that we are proposing,”

Cuschieri also talks about a fruitful cooperation with operators concerning player protection, which is highly important for MGA.

As he said, MGA is “learning a lot from most of the operators and the way they manage consumer protection and player protection.”

“Within the authority as well, we invested a lot in our player protection units so customers and players who are playing on sites regulated by the MGA can come to us if they have any complaints and we’ll see to it in the shortest time possible. We believe that customer protection is key to build trust, trust in the jurisdiction, trust in the operator, and enlightened businesses can grow in a very safe environment, and that’s what we are going to do” – Cuschieri further comments.

cuschieri