In 2017, 1,739 people applied to be excluded from gambling in casinos and other gambling venues in Malta, local news agency Malta Today reported, citing official figures from the Malta Gaming Committee (MGA).
The figure presented represents an increase of 9% since 2016, when 1,277 such requests were sent. The MGA found that more than half of the self-exclusion requests it filed are for a six-month period, and the rest for one year. Only one request was for indefinite self-exclusion from slot machines in Malta.
Every gambling operator holding a license from the Malta Gaming Authority must offer its users the opportunity to participate in a self-exclusion program, in accordance with the 2011 Directive. The Island Self-Disconnect Program is one of the tools used by local regulators to minimize the negative impact of gambling.
According to the MGA report, about 76% of those who chose to participate in the self-exclusion program last year were citizens of Malta. A number of non-Maltese casino visitors and customers of other land-based gambling establishments on the island have also submitted self-excluding inquiries. Italians made up 4% of the latter group, followed by Syrian, Bulgarian, Romanian and Somali clients at 2%.
The MGA has found that players who choose to self-exclude from casinos are getting younger over the past few years. Official data showed that while 35-45-year-olds were the most likely to participate in the program in 2015, 18-24-year-olds and 25-34-year-olds accounted for nearly half of the requests submitted last year. Male casino players remained the dominant group of self-exclusion clients in 2017, accounting for 71% of all inquiries.
As mentioned above, online gambling operators are also required to provide their customers with a self-exclusion option. A recent report from the MGA reports that approximately 790,000 self-termination claims were submitted by players on sites licensed in Malta in 2017, up 5.3% from a year earlier.
This has been an important year for Malta and its gambling industry as the new Gambling Law, drawn up long ago, was finally approved by local legislators and passed a three-month period of inactivity, during which it was reviewed by the European Commission, and entered into force on 1 August.
A recently passed law aims to cement Malta’s reputation as the preferred hub for online gambling and to simplify some of the associated processes. The simplification includes replacing the old licensing system, which required gambling companies to obtain licenses for each of the services and products they provided. Currently there are only two categories of licenses: B2B and B2C.
The new Gambling Law also expands the MGA’s power to regulate the sector so that the organization can introduce stricter tools and measures to monitor and combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other criminal activities often associated with the gambling industry.