Malta Gambling Regulator Hands Blackrock Media Record €2.34m Fine

  • Blackrock Media allegedly operating a gaming service without the necessary authorization
  • Company had previously been named as part of the Paradise Papers investigations
  • Maltese authorities showing increased commitment in handling money-laundering cases
financial penalty document and judge's gavel
Malta’s gambling regulator has issued a record fine of €2.34m to Blackrock Media Ltd. for operating an unauthorized gaming service. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A significant financial penalty

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has handed out a penalty of €2.34m ($2.6m) to Blackrock Media Ltd as part of a settlement agreement. This is the biggest-ever fine issued by the MGA, which has already been paid out by Blackrock Media. 

The gambling company was fined for “operating a gaming service through a Maltese legal entity without being in possession of the necessary authorization”, according to the MGA. This is in violation of Article 25 in the Maltese Gaming Act.

The penalty follows a joint investigation carried out by the executive police in Malta and the MGA in relation to the firm’s operations. The conclusion of the investigation was that Blackrock Media had been:

processing payments to and from players as part of a gaming service which was never duly authorized.”

Blackrock featured in offshore activities investigations

Blackrock Media operates under the ownership of Dutch gambling firm Blackrock Entertainment N.V. The parent company is also the operator of the Wild Sultan online casino platform that is licensed in Curacao. 

Blackrock Media had previously been named as part of the Paradise Papers investigations. The papers compile a massive leak of more than 13 million documents relating to the offshore financial practices of many of the world’s powerful people and companies.

A win for the Maltese authorities

The Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services in Malta, Silvio Schembri, said the record fine is a clear sign of how the MGA is taking its policing role in the gambling sector very seriously. 

Schembri added that the penalty also reflects the Maltese government’s increased commitment to implementing the key recommendations from a 2019 report relating to anti-money laundering practices. The report was published by the MONEYVAL anti-money laundering group, which forms part of the Council of Europe. 

The document made 58 different recommendations to Malta, with the aim of improving the investigation and prosecution of cases related to bribery, financial, and corruption offenses. It also discussed its view on potential failings in Malta’s capabilities to properly pursue these types of cases. The report found there were limited financial and human resources available to conduct such investigations.

Speaking about the fines issued by the Maltese authorities to parties that do not provide information about the beneficial owners of a company, the report concluded that they were “not effective, dissuasive and proportionate.”