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Mallia pledges Bill to update 2004 remote gaming legislation

Opposition MP Kristy Debono warns remote gaming industry passing through a rough stage, urges government to simplify licensing process

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
28 June 2016, 6:28pm
Minister Manuel Mallia
Minister Manuel Mallia
Competitiveness minister Manuel Mallia pledged to update Malta’s remote gaming legislation, in what would be their first major overhaul since 2004.

Mallia said he will discuss a draft law with Malta Gaming Authority executive chairperson Joseph Cuschieri in the coming days, with the intention of tabling it in Parliament “shortly”.

“The government has long been conducting studies on how to improve Malta’s gaming legislation. Nobody ever felt the need to update them since 2004, but I will table a Bill to do so shortly.”

He was speaking during a parliamentary debate on a Bill to lower risk exposure in the issuance of electronic ID cards, the transposition of an EU directive. However, debate focused on remote gaming, with Opposition MP Kristy Debono warning that the sector is passing through a particularly rough stage.

She urged government to come up with a retention strategy to prevent a hammorhage of companies, which she warned could cause a recession.

She spoke of growing pressure by EU countries towards tax harmonization and towards forcing remote gaming companies to obtain their license in the same countries in which they operate.

“The EU’s freedom of movement principle is growing weaker. It has proven crucial in economic growth across the continent, but it is being hindered by the attitude adopted by certain countries to shove services offered by countries such as Malta into the corner.”

She urged government to update remote gaming legislation, simplify the licensing process, and seek to branch into the licensing of digital games of skill. 

“The legislation was modern and avant-garde when it was introduced back in 2004, but the gaming sector changes so rapidly that it is now obsolete,” she said. “Everyday we delay action is a wasted opportunity to update the law to once again render our laws ahead of our times as they were back in 2004. The licensing process for gaming companies must be simplified, and excess and repetitive paperwork slashed. She urged government to study the possibility of branching into skill game licensing.

“The gaming sector faces times of challenge, and if we don’t diversify and return to our old status as leaders in the sector, we will risk losing our competitive edge.

“We mustn’t just protect the hen that lays the golden egg, but continuously harness it to make hay while the sun shines”.