MGA releases a De Minimis Games Directive and Gaming Premises Directive
By virtue of article 7(2) of the Gaming Act, the Malta Gaming Authority has released two directives; a De Minimis Games Directive and a Gaming Premises Directive. The directives are applicable as from 1st February 2019.
- De Minimis Games Directive
In terms of article 1(d) of the Gaming Authorisations Regulations, the MGA has released a directive defining what constitutes a de minimis exempt game. The provision of a gaming service or a critical gaming supply carried out solely in relation to such games is exempt from requiring a licence from the MGA.
A de minimis game is classified as such where it contains all of the following factors:
- It may consist solely in a lottery or raffle-type game (the MGA shall decide on the classification of the game where there is doubt as to the nature of the game)
- The stake to take part in the game does not exceed one euro
- The prize of the game does not exceed one hundred euro
- The result of the game is not based on the result of another game
The directive further stipulates that a maximum of ten de minimis games may take place in any given year with no more than two de minimis games organised in a single month.
- Gaming Premises Directive
The Gaming Premises Directive provides licensees with additional guidelines as to what gaming premises must abide by in order to be compliant. The directive establishes several guidelines relating to a number of matters.
- Junket Gaming
The directive provides for the application for a gaming junket which must be filed with the MGA by not less than five working days prior to the start of the junket. The directive enables regular players, albeit under exceptional circumstances, to be converted into junket players where the players have converted money into chips or have or will play not less than €7,500 in a single gaming session.
An application for a junket event is also regulated and must be filed not less than twenty working days before the start of the junket event. The directive outlines that an extended area adjacent to gaming premises may be used to hold a junket event and further provides various conditions related to the use of such extended area.
- Various Gaming Premises Requirements
The directive provides several rules relating to matters dealing with; employee and customer identification, access control, unattended money or chips, win certificates, surveillance and, device restrictions.
- Gaming Tables
Gaming tables may only be installed in gaming premises in possession of a concession granted by the Minister in terms of Article 11(3) of the Gaming Act. The opening and closing of a gaming table must be carried out by at least three of the licensee’s employees with a fourth employee monitoring the situation through surveillance. The movement of chips and cash to and from a gaming table must also be monitored by surveillance by properly trained personnel. At least two persons must be involved in this procedure excluding the individual monitoring through the surveillance system.
- Counting Procedures
The directive provides for a number of rules for land-based casinos, bingo halls and controlled gaming premises, relating to the procedure for counting revenues generated from each gaming device in the premises of a licensee. It includes a number of criteria that need to be satisfied when carrying out a counting exercise. The count room, members of the team conducting the count, drop boxes and stackers and, surveillance of the counts are all matters which are regulated under the directive. The counting procedures under the provisions relating to bingo halls and controlled gaming premises shall come into effect on 1st January 2020.
- Controlled Gaming Premises No Objection Procedure
In accordance with regulation 14 of the Gaming Premises Regulations, the approval of controlled gaming premises is subject to the relevant permit issued by the Planning Authority to be issued for the appropriate class. Pending such approval, an applicant may request a certificate from the MGA confirming that it does not object to the premises being used as controlled gaming premises. The directive provides a list of documentation required by the MGA to support the request for the certificate.
- Cruise Casino Permits
Apart from the provisions relating to cruise casino permits under the Gaming Authorisations Regulations, the directive includes further requirements to which cruise casinos are subject. A cruise casino permit shall be made not less than twenty working days prior to the cruise ship being moored at or within Maltese territory during any particular voyage. The permit that is granted by the MGA may impose conditions in relation to the protection of players and the prevention of money laundering, apart from others. The approval of a permit for a cruise casino is subject to the payment of a fee of either €500 or €1000 depending on the maximum amount of passengers it can hold.