MGA A Seal of Approval in the Online Gambling World

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) was established in 2001. It is in charge of regulating the entire gambling industry, online and offline, and ensures fairness, transparency, and player protections. It was one of the earliest gambling authorities to regulate online gambling, and this has helped Malta establish itself as one of the leading hubs for the industry. Here you can find information about the licenses issued by the MGA and the benefits they deliver.

Location

What Is Malta Gaming Authority?

The MGA has a number of functions. Essentially, its job is to protect players and ensure that they are receiving a high level of service, and it does this in several ways.

Firstly, it certifies that gambling operators are fair and honest. This means that it will make sure that the games are not rigged, that operators have the financial resources to pay players, that operators will properly protect players’ money and privacy, and that operators are not exploiting those at risk from problem gambling. It continually monitors licensees to ensure that the highest standards are upheld and will investigate player complaints as needed.

The second role of the Malta Gaming Authority is to prevent criminal operations from taking advantage of gambling sites for activities such as money laundering. If the MGA finds an operator has failed in its duties, it is able to issue fines and revoke the relevant licenses.

How to Obtain an MGA License

In order to obtain an MGA license, the applicant must submit all the required information, and the application goes through a number of stages. There are several forms to submit, including:

MGA License
  • Financial Management Information
  • Entity Declaration
  • Personal Declaration
  • Source of Wealth Declaration
  • Statement of Affairs
  • Criminal Conviction Sheet Authorisation Form
  • MLRO Eligibility Form

The first stage is the “Fit and Proper” check. The Malta Gaming Authority will review the applicant’s finances and business management practices to ensure that the business is viable. The MGA will also carry out checks on the applicant with other international regulators and law enforcement agencies and carry out background checks on the key people involved in the application.

The second stage is the “Business Planning” check. This involves an in-depth financial analysis of the business plan. Applicants are expected to have submitted detailed financial projections, including Cash Flow, Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet, marketing and distribution strategies, HR plans, growth targets, and so on.

The third stage is a check of “Operational & Statutory Requirements.” This involves checking incorporation documents, the games on offer, business processes related to games, the rules, terms, conditions, policies, procedures, technical documentation of the gaming platform and back end, and so on.

The Malta Gaming Authority will also check that the applicant has enough financial reserves. The minimum amount of money required depends on the type of license being applied for.

When applying for an MGA Gaming Service License, the minimums are as follows:

  • Type 1 — €100,000
  • Type 2 — €100,000
  • Type 3 — €40,000
  • Type 4 — €40,000.

When applying for a Critical Gaming Supply License, there is a minimum of €40,000.

If applying for multiple licenses, the applicant is required to meet the above requirements up to a cumulative maximum of €280,000.

If the first three stages are successful, the applicant is informed and then invited to begin the preparations to go live. Applicants are given 60 days to complete the technical preparations, and then an MGA-approved service provider must carry out a system audit. The purpose of the audit is to ensure that the live system matches the proposals in the application. If the audit is passed, then a 10-year license is awarded.

Finally, after going live, the licensee must agree to undergo a number of compliance audits of its operation carried out by an MGA-approved auditor.

There are, of course, a number of costs involved in the application process, and they are dependent upon the type of license being applied for.

MGA license fees:

  • Application fee for a new license – €5000
  • Application fee for renewal of license - €5000
  • Key function certificate – €50
  • Transfer of a qualifying interest in a license - €1500
  • Application fee for a material supply certification – €1000
  • Maintenance fee for a material supply certificate – €500.

There are also yearly license fees. Those with license types 1, 2, and 3 have to pay €25,000, and those with license type 4 have to pay €10,000

There are then further costs faced by a license holder, such as an annual compliance contribution and special fees for a B2B license, which are based upon revenue.

Submitting a Complaint to the MGA

If you have a complaint about an MGA licensed casino, the MGA states that “It is strongly recommended that you actively seek to resolve your dispute directly with the operator’s support and management prior to lodging your complaint with the Malta Gaming Authority.”

However, should you need to escalate your complaint to the MGA itself, you can do so via a complaints form on its website, found here. You will be required to submit various pieces of information, and the MGA states that it reserves the right to request identification before processing a complaint.

In addition to providing personal information, you will be asked to provide details of:

  • The gaming operator you are complaining about
  • Your username at the site
  • The game you were playing
  • The disputed amount
  • The date of the incident
  • The time of the incident
  • A short description of the claim.

It is possible to attach files to the complaint, which could be beneficial if you have any evidence. You should also check the box marked “Send a copy to my email” as this way, you can be sure that the complaint was properly submitted.

MGA Licenses – Types and Details

The Malta Gaming Authority has two broad categories of licenses that it issues:

  • Gaming Service License – This is a B2C license that allows the licensee to offer and provide gaming services
  • Critical Gaming Supply License – A license to provide critical gaming supply and management of material elements of a game.

The difference between the two is that a Gaming Service License is what is needed by gambling operators who want to offer players the chance to play games and place bets, while a Critical Gaming Supply License is what those who supply the technology behind the games need.

Those applying for either type of license will need to specify which of the following game types they will be offering:

  • Type 1 – Games of chance played against a house, the outcome of which is decided by an RNG. This includes games such as slots, roulette, virtual sports, and so on
  • Type 2 – Games of chance played against the house but with an outcome that is not generated randomly but determined by the result of an event or competition and where the operator manages its own risk by choosing the odds offered to the player, for instance, sports betting
  • Type 3 – Games of chance not played against the house and that do not expose the operator to gaming risk. Rather the operator generates revenue by taking a commission, such as in player versus player games, including poker
  • Type 4 – Controlled games of skill.

It is not necessary to apply for an MGA license for each type of game. An operator that wishes to expand its services simply needs to apply for approval.

Knowing If a Casino Holds an MGA License

There are two ways of knowing if the casino you want to play at holds a license from the MGA. The first is by looking at the casino’s footer. There you should be able to see the regulator’s logo, which is simply the letters ‘MGA’ superimposed on top of a Maltese flag.

The other method is to check the MGA’s website, where you can search the Malta Gaming Licensee Register. It is possible to search by Licensee Name, URL, Authorisation Status, or Gaming Service. There are drop-down menus for each, making it particularly easy to find the operator that you are interested in.

MGA logo 01

Look for the MGA logo in the footer of the casino website.

MGA website 02

Go to the official MGA website and search by name or account number.

If you cannot see the MGA logo on the casino website or find them in the MGA Licensee Register, then it is best to assume that the operator does not hold an MGA license.

The Clear Benefits

There are several reasons why an operator should obtain an MGA license. To begin with, the Maltese government is very supportive of the iGaming industry, which means that taxes are relatively low. Furthermore, the regulator is respected around the world, which means that operators with an MGA license are able to accept players from several key jurisdictions. The island is also a beneficial place to be. It is a massive iGaming industry hub with a huge number of companies located there. Some of the biggest iGaming events take place in Malta, and there is a large number of highly trained iGaming professionals in the workforce.

PROS
  • Globally respected
  • Low taxes
  • Business-friendly regulations
CONS
  • High licensing fees
  • Strict checks for license applicants

The Best MGA Casinos

There are hundreds of casinos regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority. Together with the UKGC, it is the best-respected license an operator can hold. We always take the MGA license seal seriously when doing research for our casino reviews. It demonstrates that the casino is a safe and fair place to play with properly tested games, reliable banking, proper data protection measures, and safer gambling procedures in place. Furthermore, as the MGA license is recognized in numerous jurisdictions, it opens up a huge player base to operators. This means that you have a vast amount of choice if you want to play at an MGA licensed casino. Here are our top 10 choices:

FAQ

What Countries Recognize an MGA License?

Players in countries from around the world are able to play at MGA-licensed casinos. Unless a country has laws that stipulate that a local license is required or a country has been blacklisted by the FATF (Financial Action Task Force), players from any country can join an MGA casino. If you are interested in playing at any of the MGA casinos, it is best to check the casino’s terms and conditions first to ensure players from your jurisdiction are accepted.

How Much Does an Malta Gaming Authority License Cost?

This depends on the type of license being applied for. The basic application fee is €5,000, and the yearly fees are €25,000 for those with license types 1, 2, and 3, and €10,000 for those with license type 4. There are then various other fees that are based upon revenue.

How Do I Complain about an MGA Licensed Casino?

The Malta Gaming Authority recommends that you first take up all complaints with the operator. If you are unable to resolve your issue, then you can submit a complaint using a form on the MGA’s website, and it will do its best to help you reach a satisfactory resolution.