Malta Gaming Authority Moves Forward With Self-Exclusion

Malta could soon implement a unified self-exclusion measure.

30-second summary:

  • MGA opens consultations on “united self-exclusion system”
  • Aims to register and block all self-excluded players from engaging with MGA operators
  • The unified system aims to reduce self- related gambling harm

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has commenced a preliminary market consultation to gather information and guidance on its plan to launch a unified self-exclusion system in the country’s regulated gambling market.

The unified system

The MGA first proposed a united system in May last year. It is now set to embark on the ambitious project, which will lead to the implementation of a unified self-exclusion system for all its remote gaming licensees.

The unified system will mean that players will be able to block access to all Maltese licensees’ services when they self-exclude from one. At the moment operators have to offer players the option to self-exclude, but there is no link to different companies’ databases. This means that a player who blocks themselves from one operator’s site could still gamble via another.

The MGA is conscious that there is a gap in the protection offered within its regulated environment. It is committed to working towards a system that will offer players the possibility to self-exclude across all licensed operators.

Under the proposed system, if a player self-excludes from one site, that operator would then pass their information on to all other Maltese licensees, which can then block the individual from their platforms.

The regulator said it may also consider expanding the system to incorporate operators that are not licensed in Malta, but target customers in the country by virtue of a license in another jurisdiction. Ot it could allow operators to plug into the system on a voluntary basis, always ensuring a robust protection of data, in line with the GDPR.

A range of technical solutions

The MGA said that the system should include a dedicated, central self-exclusion website, an online form to capture consumer details and a database for self-exclusion, as well as data protection-compliant systems and a record-matching process.

The authority will assess the suitability of a range of technical solutions for such a system over the coming weeks, including the possibility of leveraging distributed ledger technology (DLT, aka blockchain). Such technology has the potential to provide an ideal platform for this system due to its inherent characteristics of immutability and decentralization.

The system could also feature functionality for third-party exclusion as well as operator-imposed exclusion.

With this in mind, the MGA is seeking to gather opinion on the type of technologies that are available, stating that the final system may be a combination of solutions. This could include products that are either centralized or decentralized in nature, as well as those that make use of the cloud or are hosted on premises.

The regulator believes an online variant of its land-based solution is necessary to ensure players are protected across all channels.

Key statistics

From January 1, 2018, to June 30 2018, the number of requests from Maltese consumers to self-exclude from land-based gambling amounted to 869, up 19% in the same period in the previous year.

For remote gaming activities, the same six-month period saw self-exclusion requests for gaming websites licensed by the MGA reach around 540,000, up 31.9% on 2017.

The MGA said it will strengthen its consumer safeguards and all-around gambling protections, adding new enforcement to its online gambling licensing framework. It envisages that a unified self-exclusion system would be a significant step forward for the prevention of gambling-related harm.

This is a key project initiative for the MGA and its government stakeholders; the gaming authority seeks to deliver the most comprehensive self-exclusion system for use by all licensees.

In its update, the MGA stated it is seeking “stakeholder advice/opinion on current self-exclusion protocols (benefits/flaws), as well as guidance on technology matters attached to consumer protections, databasing, record keeping and developing further comprehensive ‘compliant systems’ benefiting gaming/betting consumers”.

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