As of August 1st 2018, the new Gaming Act came into force in Malta. Amongst many changes made, one of the most salient is the point that licensees are now required to identify each individual that is responsible for key functions as defined by law, rather than having one Key Official responsible for all operations.
Who is included?
These individuals, once identified are then required to undergo vetting by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) so that their fitness and proprietary can be ascertained and confirmed. Those that fit the necessary criteria and are deemed certifiable, are then issued with a key function certificate enabling them to perform the relevant function, or functions as applicable.
Job titles that fall under the scope of the Authorisations include Chief Executives or anyone that is appointed by the licensee to liaise with the Malta Gaming Authority on behalf of the operator.
Licensees are required to notify the MGA of any key functions that will be required by one, or more, individuals that have already been certified and approved, either as an employee of the licensee or as providing the services of Key Official under the previous regulations (Remote Gaming Regulations (S.L. 438.04)). If an individual already has clearance under either of these provisions, the MGA may prepare a relevant key function certificate that will be issued in due course. Any individual that is not previously approved by the MGA who has been given a key function, had to make themselves known to the MGA before the end of September, being sure to submit all relevant documentation and paperwork. Until an individual has been approved by the MGA, they will be unable to fulfil a Key Function role and the responsibility for the vacant key functions will fall temporarily with the Key Official that was appointed under the Remote Gaming Regulations.
Those applying for the position of a Key Function must take care to avoid any possible or actual conflicts of interest. These include compliance, player support, and responsible gaming roles, and anyone in a position such as Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Marketing Director or similar.
Additionally, any person involved in the prevention of money laundering and financing of terrorism is expected to recuse themselves from any additional role that may cause conflict such as Data Protection Officer (DPO). Likewise, the DPO cannot take on additional roles such as data controller or Money Laundering Reporting Officer.
Any individual that is responsible for internal audits is not allowed to have any other function as this may also constitute a gross conflict of interest.
Of course, with every business having a different structure, it can be difficult to know who may have conflicts and who may not, but it remains the responsibility of each licensee to be sure that there are no conflicting functions being excercised by the same person.
The Start-Up Undertakings Directive
This obligatory segregation of roles can be difficult for start-ups who may have limited budgets, particularly when it comes to personnel. In respect of this, the MGA, in line with the Start-Up Undertakings Directive, may allow a single individual to conduct multiple roles that may appear to have a conflict, but only during the first year of operation. This is assessed on a case-by-case basis and is dependent on the satisfaction of the Authority that the integrity of the license will not be compromised in any way. Unfortunately, this does not apply to those individuals undertaking the role of internal audit, as the integrity of that role falls under the scope of other applicable laws.
To find out more about Key Functions and obtaining a certificate for your start-up or business, contact us today.