Malta gambling regulator playing safe with Bitcoin

Malta gambling regulator playing safe with Bitcoin

- in Casino

Currently, Malta Gambling Authority is developing legal framework in order to keep their gaming stance up-to-date.

Despite the global industry of virtual casino gaming being very open-minded towards innovative solutions, Malta Gambling Authority’s chief executive Joseph Cuschieri believes there is a necessity to have a “flexible regulatory framework” capable of both letting the gambling field turn its account in the latest modern-day developments, and reducing the possible risks for customers. One of the most sensitive areas for the Bitcoin casino gaming industry in this respect is the usage of Bitcoin and altcoins as a payment method.

According to Cuschieri, such currencies may have started feeling comfortable in the Maltese market for the reason certain financial establishments adopting the conservative anti-risk approach. Overall, Cuschieri adds, there has been inadequate control in the gaming supply chain and audit trails. Digital currencies like Bitcoins, as seen by Cuschieri “are an attempt to create a virtual currency, backed up by a technology block-chain that manages its transactions”. He says he still sees them as a risk, with “the authority’s position [being] that [they] still do not accept crypto-currencies”. MGA “has received very few requests to accept crypto-currencies, and [they] have always refused”, so now they are “looking to adopting a national approach and given it’s a financial instrument [they] shall be collaborating with the Central Bank, the FIAU and the MFSA”.

Just as the UK Gambling Commission, the Malta Gambling Authority may consider to change their stance on virtual currencies and start deeming them as a cash equivalent. In such case, their licensees would be able to accept payments in BTC and altcoins from players. As provided by the 2001 Lotteries and Other Games Act, MGA, being the one and only independent regulatory establishment of the Malta jurisdiction, is in charge of competently ensuring gaming is fair and transparent to the players in various sectors of the gaming industry, including both online and land-based gaming activities. Currently, the Authority is developing legal frameworks in order to keep their gaming stance up-to-date.

Seeking to have the new legislation in place in early spring 2017, MGA intends to have a series of consultations with the industry’s stakeholders later this year, so as to finally submit the draft bill to parliament. Cuschieri, though, looks even further ahead in the long term, as in some 10 years, he wants to see an even bigger-scale industry of online gambling. His vision for Malta, he says, “is the Silicon Valley of the industry, and [he thinks they] are getting there”, but, so as to reach that goal, the state requires incentives, the proper regulatory framework, and further support of the industry.

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