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Malta Proposes Regulatory Regime for Skill Games

December 2014

The Lotteries and Gaming Authority has recently issued a policy document outlining guidelines regarding games of skill.

Currently games of skill, are outside the scope of a gaming licence, which licence is confined only to games of chance (such as lottery / slot machines – the outcome of which is decided by an independent arbitrator) or games of chance of chance and skill (such as poker – whereby even if the game is a strategy based one, ultimately the sequence of the cards is mandated by a random event).

Skill games are defined as games whose outcome hinges entirely or a major degree on intellect, knowledge, speed of execution, dexterity etc; The applicability of these skill games can include puzzle games, music games board games, action games etc; irrespective of whether the medium for play is internet or mobile applications.

Social games, are at least for the time being, outside the scope of the aforesaid discussion, albeit the Lotteries and Gaming Authority has reserved judgment as to whether these forms of social games, shall be subject to regulation in the not so distant future.

The main reasons for the discussion to regulate skill games has been motivated by the need to regulate transaction, in which vulnerable players, may be lured into gaming for a monetary prize. Other consideration include the possibility that such forms of gaming could be used as a pretext for the laundering of illicit proceeds of crime. There are also considerations, given the fact social games have a wider audience (in terms of age-group) than regulated games, that these be regulated to ensure protection for the most vulnerable players and an element of fairness and impartiality in the distribution of prizes.

The said policy document therefore should be interpreted as a positive sign towards ensuring an element of certainty and formality in this wide and potentially lucrative market. Whilst the consultation process is still ongoing, and shall be subject to final changes, our directors shall be reverting back with the final legal position, as soon as skill games have been enacted into a legal framework.

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