As of next month, the Malta Gaming Authority’s (MGA) new CEO Charles Mizzi steps in to replace Charles Brincat. This is a particularly relevant update for the newcomers within the industry, be they tested and reviewed casinos, affiliates or other B2B companies within the online gambling niche.
After serving at the Residency Malta Agency for five years, Mr Mizzi will be starting his new role at the MGA on the 26th January. During a recent press conference, Mr Mizzi noted that he was honored to have been given this opportunity, and that he was “keen to build on past successes together with the team”. He also mentioned the importance of strengthening Malta’s position within the industry “while delivering value to all stakeholders”.
Silvio Schembri, Malta’s Minister for the Economy, European Funds and Lands and Chairman of the Responsible Gaming Foundation Malta welcomed this appointment by noting that “Charles is undoubtedly the right candidate to continue building on what the Malta Gaming Authority has achieved so far.” He also spoke about Mr. Mizzi’s past achievements and contributions to major projects, while expressing his confidence with regards to Mizzi’s future endeavors.
Have You Heard About Bill 55?
One of the tasks that’s potentially at the top of the list for Mizzi once he steps into the MGA is following up on Malta’s Bill 55, which Europe is currently opposing. This has proved to be a tough nut to crack for the Authority, with various European stakeholders claiming the latest amendment was not compatible with European law.
This issue was raised last August, when the German gambling regulator, Gemeinsamen Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL), expressed that the controversial bill, Article 56A of Malta’s Gaming Act, essentially protects gaming operators from legal liabilities while operating under MGA licensed activities. The GGL reacted to this by stating that the amendment goes against the Recast Brussels Regulation of 2013, and “should not be compatible” with European law.
Is History Repeating Itself?
In a nutshell, Bill 55 will protect gambling operators from any liability, while they operate within the parameters of the MGA. This also means that any foreign judgements or enforcements against MGA licensed gambling businesses would not stand in a court of law whenever the activity is carried out under their license.
The questionability of Bill 55 has now become more relevant, following precents in Germany and Austria, with a landmark case causing Germany’s Leipzig Regional Court to rule that online operators are not obligated to reimburse players on the grounds that players were aware that online casino gambling was illegal in most parts of Germany. A similar court ruling also happened in Austria in 2021, with the Supreme Court ruling that since online gambling is illegal in Austria, then any player contracts made with foreign online casino operators are null and void, and no losses need be refunded. To this day, Austrian gamblers seek to recoup millions from online gambling operators offering services in the country.
A Legal Dispute
In the past, the MGA has argued that its gambling jurisdiction is covered by the rules concerned with the free movement of services within the European Union. Here, the Regulator noted that the local gambling framework was in full conformity with European law.
The issue concerning the Commission’s decision to close complaints and infringement procedures against operators in the gambling sector back in 2017 was also raised. They argued that in this scenario, MGA licensed operators would be able to offer a gambling service that’s not actually considered a service at EU level.
This is not the first time that this issue has been flagged, with the European Commission committing to examining the compatibility of this Bill with European law. At the moment, the Commission has requested additional information from the Maltese authorities.
Once the Commission reaches a decision, there is the chance to escalate to the European Courts of Justice. Historically speaking, this court has always been the one to step in as the final decision maker whenever there have been disputes between domestic and European law.
Seasoned writer David Redknapp has over a couple of decades’ worth of experience under his belt. From working with top ranking magazines, papers and even a short stint in TV, his favorite niche is by far the online gambling one. As a fan of the pastime himself, when he was given the opportunity to join this thriving industry, he didn’t give it a second thought.