New MGA boss and the state of the gambling protection umbrella

The well-known Malta Gaming Authority recently had a new chairman. Charles Mizzi takes over the management of the licensor. Among other things, he will have to deal with the controversy surrounding Bill 55, the so-called gambling protection umbrella, which is being strongly questioned in several EU countries. What is the current state of the law?

Charles Mizzi new MGA Boss

Charles Mizzi has officially been working in his new position at the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) since the end of January. As boss, he replaces Charles Brincat, who resigned after two years at the helm of the authority. Mizzi already has experience as a CEO, but comes from a different area. Before his new job, he was head of the Residency Malta Agency for five years, which enforces the regulations surrounding residence permits in the state. This also addressed the concerns of foreign investors.

At the MGA he also deals with laws and rules for companies, but of course he will primarily deal with gambling providers. Presumably one of his first areas of focus will be Bill 55, passed in the summer of 2023, with which Malta protects its gaming companies from lawsuits from abroad.

The last we heard about the protective shield was some time ago: in late summer, the GGL officially took a position on Bill 55 – the EU Commission had already been called in to check the legality of the provisions. Is there anything new?

Mizzi and the MGA look forward to working together

Charles Mizzi is highly praised in the MGA’s press release upon his arrival. During his work at the Residency Malta Agency, he made a significant contribution to Malta becoming one of the most respected and sought-after residency countries for investments. There is no doubt that he will also perform equally well at the MGA.

Mizzi himself says:

“I feel honored to have been given the opportunity to lead the authority. I want to build on the successes of the past and, together with the team led by the responsible minister and the Board of Governors, strategically align the authority in such a way that Malta’s already solid position in this area is further strengthened and all parties involved receive added value.”The Maltese Minister for Economy, EU Funds and Lands, Silvio Schembri, congratulated Mizzi on his appointment:

“With his experience of leading a range of agencies and his contributions to major projects, Charles Mizzi is undoubtedly the right candidate to build on what has been achieved to date and lead his outstanding colleagues within the authority to further success.”

The international press assumes that one of his main tasks is to strengthen or justify Bill 55.

This law has proven controversial among other European interest groups, as many believe it is incompatible with European law. The bill, also known as Article 56A of the Maltese Gambling Act, protects operators licensed in Malta from lawsuits from other EU countries arising from their gambling activities there.

And what about the gambling protection umbrella?

Bill 55 is still in effect. “The Maltese government defends its legislation as guardian of the principle of free movement of goods and services within the EU. “It proposes a nuanced debate about the balance between national sovereignty and EU-wide regulations.” This is what international reporting suggests. Malta even questions whether the local licensing regulations – for example in Germany – are compatible with European law.

“The Maltese gambling framework is fully consistent with EU law and is based on the freedoms afforded to a company established in the internal market”

Regulatory authority literally.

European regulators and governments have previously pointed to a 2017 decision by the EU Commission that said gambling could not be considered a service that could be available across Europe with an MGA license. The European Commission said it would examine the gambling protection shield for its compatibility with EU law. The Maltese authorities have been asked for further information for this purpose.

There is no decision yet. Once the Commission has taken a decision, there is a possibility that the case will go to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The ECJ has always been the final decision-maker in disputes between European and national law.

Conclusion

Charles Mizzi could soon be faced with some pretty important tasks in his new position. If the EU determines that Bill 55 is not legal, it will not only mean that foreign lawsuits in connection with gambling offers licensed in Malta will go through again. The entire licensing system with its EU-wide orientation will probably be examined more closely and ultimately questioned. It remains to be seen whether things can continue as usual with the MGA approval. But nothing has been decided yet.

About Kevin Rendel 111 Articles
I'm Kevin Rendel and I'm testing online casinos for you. As a journalist and gambler I have been working in the iGaming sector for many years. Before that I published books and produced content for websites. At Casinova.org I am responsible for the English and German language content of the casino guide. In the online casino I know exactly what is important. I do not hesitate to call myself a real expert and I assure you, gamblers can rely on me and my experience!

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