Communicated Content – Whether it is because public opinion has become clouded as a result of the true-life horror stories we hear about problem gambling or the way casinos are portrayed as venues for illicit activities in old-school gangster movies, this sector doesn’t necessarily have the most positive image in our minds.
So when people hear allegations about regulatory bodies such as the Malta Gambling Association (MGA) having ties to the Italian Mafia, it is easy to feel somewhat hopeless. After all, such regulatory bodies exist to monitor actors operating within the gambling space and ensure they are adhering to the laws of the land, following responsible gambling policies, and protecting vulnerable consumers.
The Impact of The Allegations Against The MGA
Earlier this year, concerns were raised about Italian mafia associates using Malta’s gaming base to participate in various illegal gambling activities and carry out money laundering operations. Thankfully, however, intensive investigations by the Italian authorities have revealed that these allegations were unfounded, and there were never any connections between Italian nations, the MGA or Maltese gaming companies.
Moreover, the investigations confirmed that members of Italian mafia organizations did not have many connections to the ownership of online gambling companies that have been licensed by the MGA. Despite the fact that the MGA has been cleared of any potential wrong-doings, the impact of these allegations is still felt across the industry.
We got in touch with a few industry experts to get a holistic understanding of the latest updates. Senior Writer at NoDepositDaily Joyce Tannehill was candid in her opinion:
‘As they say, news travels fast, and despite the fact that the online casino sector is made up of thousands of affiliates, partners and casino providers, such stories certainly leave an impact – one way or another.
Indeed, these allegations have not helped people’s already negative, preconceived ideas about such businesses, particularly those who are looking from ‘the outside’. And yes, while the online gambling scene tends to be quite notorious with certain stories of illegalities, we’re at a point where there are so many laws and strict regulations put in place it’s pretty hard to breach them. Moreover, it’s the onus of regulatory bodies such as the MGA to lead by example.’
The MGA’s Response
The MGA released a statement in response to the allegations clarifying that the investigations had cleared the authority of any connection with individuals associated with the Italian Mafia and stating that none of these people formed any part of the ownership structures of the online gambling companies that have received licenses by the MGA.
The authority reiterated this point further by confirming that nobody associated with the Italian Mafia was deemed to be a director, shareholder, and ultimate beneficial owner or key person connected to any MGA licensed organization.
Looking To Future
Moving forward, the MGA clearly acknowledge the impact these serious allegations have had, and they are doing their best to reassure the public that there really is no cause for concern. The regulatory body has said that they are committed to liaising with both local authorities and those in Italy to continue to monitor any further development in the situation.
Furthermore, the MGA has demonstrated its commitment towards responsible gambling by taking part in a conference organized by UEFA and the Council of Europe, established to discuss and tackle the use of social media networks in match-fixing. Other notable participants at this conference included INTERPOL and the International Olympic Committee.
Antonia Abdilla Zerafa, the MAG’s Money Laundering Office and Head of Financial Crime Compliance, has expressed how important the MGA felt it was to attend this event and to work together with law enforcement authorities and sports regulatory bodies in terms of any ongoing investigations and monitoring activity within the online gambling sector. He went on express positivity at how social media platforms had been brought into the fold for this event, and he acknowledged the crucial role these entities would play in terms of preventing and investigating financial crimes in the future.
At the end of the day, it is great news that there is really no cause for concern in terms of links between the MGA and the Italian Mafia; however, this incident does highlight that regulatory bodies will need to continue to monitor the landscape for illicit activities especially given the global nature of operations.