Malta Reconsiders Laws Around Illegal Sports Betting
25 August

Malta Reconsiders Laws Around Illegal Sports Betting

The Macolin Convention of the Council of Europe is something the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is thinking about ratifying. The action represents a complete 180 degree turn from its prior position.

Following the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA)'sadmission,the Macolin Convention, which it has purposefully avoided since 2014, has become the subject of a debate. If the MGA chooses to join, Malta's definition of a legitimate sportsbook would be drastically altered.

No official statement has been made regarding a potential change or how it might impact the recent passage of Bill 55. That legislation effectively granted gaming operators with a Malta license a pass to avoid being charged in lawsuits filed abroad.

As of right now, players from nations where gambling is prohibited can access bookmakers licensed by the MGA. It's up to the players to determine whether they are accessing a platform that is prohibited by the laws of their nation rather than imposing a legal ban.

According to the new Macolin Convention, those platforms are prohibited. If the MGA joins, the operators would be liable for any legal actions brought against them in the nations where those users reside.

Gaming advisors persisted in urging the Maltese government to change its mind despite its stated opposition to joining the Macolin Convention. When joining was seen as a way to placate the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), this became a bigger deal in 2021. The goal at the time was to ensure Malta could avoid the FATF’s grey list. It didn’t work, though the country only stayed on the list for one year.

The MGA seems to be taking seriously the possible adoption of the Macolin Convention. It reportedly hired a law firm, Van Bael & Bellis, to explore the pros and cons of joining.


Bill 55 Controversy

But Bill 55 has been a source of friction since it was introduced. The European Council has spoken out against it, and the European Commission will explore whether it’s legal under European Union (EU) laws.

Germany’s Joint Gaming Authority (GGL, for its German acronym) has also raised concerns, stating that the new laws violate EU regulations. 

Germany and Austria have been at the center of various lawsuits pitting users or states against operators. Recently, they have sought to take their fights directly to Malta to try to find a resolution. Bill 55 would prevent that. Bill 55 would prevent that.


European nations strive to improve sports

In September 2014, The Macolin Convention first appeared. Its main objective was to stop match-fixing.

It is referred to as the "only rule of international law on manipulating sports competitions" by the European Council. The agreement was finally ratified in 2019 after years of tinkering with the language.

The leading nations were France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and a few others. A total of 32 European nations have joined since then.

The compact ultimately accomplished much more than its initial goal of stopping criminals from tampering with sporting events. Eventually, a definition of unlawful sports betting was added. 

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