8th May 2020

Author: Michael Agius, Associate

On Monday the 27th of April, the Malta Gaming Authority (the ‘MGA’) through their website, notified stakeholders about amendments which had been made to the Gaming Premises Directive (the ‘Directive’). This Directive deals with requirements which must be followed by the licenced operators of Gaming Premises.

Gaming Premises are defined under the Gaming Act as being “any premises accessible to the public, which is used or intended to be used for players to participate in a Gaming Service”, whilst a Gaming Service is detailed as “making  a  game  available  for participation by players, whether directly or indirectly, and whether alone or with others, as an economic activity”.

The below changes should therefore be noted by anyone operating any premises in Malta under an MGA licence with the main scope of making specific games available as part of their business activities.

Junket Gaming

A Junket is defined within the Gaming Definitions Regulations as being an arrangement the purpose of which is to induce any person resident outside Malta to attend the Gaming Premises in order to partake in the Gaming Service.

Article 4(1)
Old Regulations New Regulations
Provided that, in exceptional circumstances, a casino licensee may convert a regular player into a junket player if, without prejudice to all other criteria required in order for a player to be considered a junket player, the player has converted money into chips, or has played, or otherwise gives concrete evidence that he is going to play, not less than seven thousand five hundred Euro (€7,500) in a single gaming session at the casino:

Provided further that in any such case as envisaged in the immediately preceding proviso, the Authority shall be informed forthwith and any additional information required by the Authority shall be duly provided.

Provided that, in exceptional circumstances, a casino licensee may convert a regular player into a junket player if, without prejudice to all other criteria required in order for a player to be considered a junket player, the casino must be in possession of concrete evidence that the player is going to play, within a specified timeframe, not less than seven thousand five hundred Euro (€7,500) at the casino.

Provided further that in any such case as envisaged in the immediately preceding proviso, the amount of seven thousand five hundred Euro (€7,500) shall be converted into chips by means of a single deposit and such amount must be wagered within the specified timeframe.

The above changes to Article 4(1) have clarified the position of the junket player. It is through the newly introduced Article 4 (2) that the licensee has been given a specific time frame in which to register the conversion of the junket player.

Article 4 (2) – If the casino licensee converts a regular player into a junket player in accordance with the first proviso to sub-article (1), the casino licensee shall be required to submit the application referred to in sub-article (1) forthwith and in any case not later than twenty-four (24) hours following the conversion of the regular player into a junket player.

Identification of Employees

The amendments to Article 7 have introduced a proviso which requires the licensee to keep an internal register of all employees working within the Gaming Premises.

Counting Procedures – Land based Casinos

The amendments made to Article 16 have mainly altered the procedure as described within Article 16(1)(g). Here, the MGA have introduced the requirement for the operator to make the box or stacker visible to the camera when uttering that they are empty.

Another minor change to Article 16 has also been made to sub article 5, with the time frame in which the licensee would need to transmit the results of the count of a particular business day being extended to 2pm of the following business day, instead of 8am of the following business day. A proviso has also been added which now allows the operator to extend the time frame in which they are obliged to report the results of the count in exceptional circumstances. The exceptional circumstances are not defined within the Directive.

Counting Procedures- Bingo Halls and Controlled Gaming Premises

As was done for land-based casinos, Article 19(4) has extended time frames from 8am of the following businesses day to 2pm of the following business day, and has introduced a proviso allowing the operator to request an extensions in exceptional circumstances in relation to the transmission of counting results for bingo halls and other Gaming Premises..

No Objection Procedure

Article 21 describes the requirement for the licensee to obtain a certificate from the MGA not objecting to the site becoming a Gaming Premises, which is referred to as a no objection certificate. The amendments have introduced Article 21(5) which details the period of validity of the objection certificate, being that of 3 months, with the possibility of its validity being extended by the MGA for another 3 months.

The MGA have also introduced Articles 22 and 23. Article 22 involves new requirements relating to the publication of a notice furnishing information about the no objection certificate by the licensee. The notice must include specific information about the Gaming Premises, the date when said certificate was issued, and details on how one could obtain more information about the application. The notice should also inform the public that they would have a time frame in which to object or raise any concerns.

Article 23 of the Directive, allows the applicant, following the issuance of the no objection certificate, to affix a notice on the site of the proposed controlled gaming premises containing the information listed in article 22.

Effective Date

Article 28 states that all the requirements introduced by Articles 18, 19 and 20 of the Directive shall come into effect on 1 January 2021.

Should you require any further information or assistance on the matter, please do not hesitate to reach out to us personally on antonio.ghio@fenlex.com and michael.agius@fenlex.com.

©Fenech & Fenech Advocates 2020

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