Following a public consultation process initiated at the end of 2014, the Malta Gaming Authority (“MGA”) has, this month, published its position with respect to digital games of skill with prize offered by means of distance communication (the “Position Paper”).
Notably, the Position Paper relates to games of skill that offer a prize of money or money’s worth. In addition, the MGA has excluded social games – which it described as, ‘games of varying degrees of chance and/or skill which may be played for free or against payment, or for free but subject to the possibility of paying for additional functionalities or other advantages within the game, but which do not offer the possibility of winning a prize of money or money’s worth’ – from the scope of the Position Paper, noting that these shall, in the near future, be the subject of a separate analysis.
In the context of the overhaul of the Maltese gaming regulatory and legal framework, and in line with its conclusions in the Position Paper, the MGA is of the opinion that skill games offering the potential to win a prize of money or money’s worth – with a negligible, or no element of chance – ought not to become subject to a licensing requirement, particularly as the risks correlated with said games are adequately countered by existing general and consumer protection legislation. Nevertheless, the Position Paper maintains that skill game operators and their gaming activities should fall within the MGA’s remit, and consequently be subject to a degree of monitoring, compulsory standards and, or soft law mechanisms so as to cultivate a secure environment for players.
The Position Paper also contemplates games the outcome of which is predominantly chance-based, but also influenced considerably by the player’s skill. These games are currently licensable under Maltese gaming legislation. The MGA holds, in this regard, that such games ought to remain subject to a licensing requirement – however, any such requirement imposed by the law ought to appropriately reflect the risk implicit in the games’ operations; and as such, must be differentiated from games of chance. The Position Paper emphasises that, in any case, regulatory intervention should not go beyond what is necessary to ensure that consumers are protected and that the industry remains free from fraud and crime.
The MGA shall continue to gauge developments taking place in the skill games segment, and has posited its intention to review its position, if necessary, in the future.
The above constitutes a general overview. For further details, please access the Position Paper on the MGA website at: http://www.mga.org.mt/mga-issues-position-paper-on-digital-games-of-skill-with-prize/.